Discover hidden gems and history with this month’s FREE Heritage Open Days
This September, hundreds of places of heritage across the country will be opening their doors to the public to encourage residents to take an interest in the culture of their towns, villages and countryside. The Heritage Open Days will provide access to listed houses and museums as well as hidden gems that you would not usually get to see!
There will also be a special programme of talks, walks and exhibitions on ‘Extraordinary Women’ in celebration of the centenary of the Universal Suffrage Act. The open days are across two weekends, the 6-9 and 13-16 September, and best of all, entry, tours, walks and talks are free!
With hundreds of events to choose from, here are a few highlights in East Anglia, most of which are not usually accessible to the public.
Madingley Hall, Cambridge
On 15 September, very unusually, both the Hall and the surrounding Estate will be open to the public, giving visitors a chance to explore features from its 400-year history. Madingley Hall is now the home of the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education. There are surprising features to uncover, including an oven that may have baked bread for bears, an original staircase from the reign of Henry VIII and the 400-year-old paintings concealed at the top of a turret. www.madingleyhall.co.uk
Transforming Tudors, St Neots Museum
On 8 September, St Neots Museum opens its doors for a special Tudor event featuring Mistress Kate Fletcher, Tudor Housewife, and other Tudor experts who will be at the museum to reveal local life during Tudor times. There will be food to taste, costumes to try on plus a pop-up café. This will be excellent informative fun for all the family. www.stneotsmuseum.org.uk
Peterborough’s New Open Days
Among 30 buildings taking part in the open days in Peterborough, this is the first year that has included the Faizan E Madina Mosque, the Bharat Hindu Samaj (a Hindu temple) and Gurdwara Baba Budha Sahib Ji (a Sikh Gurdwara). These places of worship open their doors during the first weekend for people to learn about the Islam, Hindu and Sikh cultures. www.heritageopendays.org.uk
St Albans Signal Box and Railway Museum, Hertfordshire
A great opportunity to get little ones involved, celebrate 150 years of the Midland Railway in St Albans, with interactive fun for all the family. Visitors will get to ring the bells and pull the levers in the signal box, see a great collection of large miniature railway engines and even take a ride on the miniature steam railway. The event is available from 8-9 September, 10am-5pm.
Thames Sailing Barge Edme and Pottery, St Osyth Boatyard
The 120-year-old Thames Sailing Barge Edme will be open on the first weekend of the month for people to step aboard and view her rigging, unchanged since 1898, and below deck. The barge will be moored in St Osyth Boatyard where you will also have the opportunity to see potter Rosie Harman’s studio and her exhibition titled ‘New Blood, Fresh Stains’. It will showcase four young female artists’ work in sculpture, drawing, paint and ceramics. www.edmebarge.com
The Great Hospital, Bishopgate, Norwich
On 16 September, The Great Hospital will host Professor Carole Rawcliffe who will give a fascinating talk titled ‘Healing Bodies and Curing Souls: The Great Hospital in the Middle Ages’. She will discuss the rich history of the only Medieval hospital in England to survive the Reformation with a substantial amount of its documentation and buildings intact. Using its detailed records, Professor Rawcliffe will discuss how it is possible to reconstruct realistically what life in the hospital would have been like for patients and staff during the Middle Ages. www.greathospital.org.uk
Textile Conservation Studio, Blickling Estate
While tours are available around the Blickling Estate, there is an exclusive opportunity to tour the National Trust’s Textile Conservation Studio, of which would not normally be open to the public. Take a tour to see the important conservation work in progress. The studio is built on the Blickling Estate and tours are available on 8 September only. The studio is very important as its skilled and flexible team of conservators undertake textile conservation work for the whole of the National Trust. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/textileconservation
These are just a few of the hundreds of events happening in East Anglia and there is sure to be something for everyone. To search for more events, visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk