Thousands of heritage sites open their doors
Heritage Open Days presents latest September showcase
September once again sees thousands of heritage sites normally closed to the public or only available occasionally throw open their doors to the public as part of the national Heritage Open Days scheme from 7-10 September. The scheme has been running annually since 1994 and typically encompasses around 5000 events, organised by around 40,000 volunteers and typically receiving more than three quarters of a million visits in total.
The festival organisers said: ‘We’re opening up everywhere from artists’ studios to nuclear bunkers, revealing hidden gardens and historic houses, and telling the stories of those who lived, built, worked and died in them.’
At the heart of this year’s festival are four ‘Unsung Stories’; newly- created arts events, made possible by funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, focusing on personal histories from the LGBTQ community. Annie Reilly, manager of Heritage Open Days, said: ‘We have artists looking at Alan Turing with a fresh lens and uncovering the love story of WW2 soldiers Gilbert and Gordon, as well as the story of the first mosque in England, and the opening of secret tunnels used by mill workers in Shipley.’
Gilbert Bradley and his lover Gordon’s story is only able to be told thanks to the recent discovery of a series of their love letters in Oswestry. England’s first mosque is in Liverpool, founded by Abdullah Quilliam, who converted to Islam in 1887. The secret tunnels of Shipley meanwhile are part of the Saltaire community – the tunnels have never been publicly accessible before, and will be open from 10am to 4.30pm on 9 and 10 September.
For the first time in more
than 30 years, the derelict Hopwood Hall estate in Manchester will open some areas for public viewing. This site is currently on Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register, and features extensive Jacobean carvings. It was recently acquired by the American actor and philanthropist Hopwood DePree, a descendant of the Manchester Hopwoods.
In Kent, visitors can explore USN P22, a United States Navy Cold War gunboat which partially sank and is now permanently moored in Ramsgate, and Liverpool Heritage on the Dock will celebrate the rich history of Albert Dock with four days of free boat trips, walks, talks and workshops.
Among venues only open for the Heritage Open Days is the Gieves & Hawkes Archive, showcasing tailoring worn by the royal family for more than 200 years, along with historic uniforms. Durham Cathedral garden and a Royal Observer Corps nuclear bunker in Farmborough, Somerset, are among other sites not normally accessible.
Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse in Norfolk will be offering children the opportunity to learn about workhouse chores, and at the battle site of Morimer’s Cross in Herefordshire, families can see the Yorkist and Lancastrian camps depicting military and civilian life from the Wars of the Roses. Children can also enjoy the ‘Stinky Tudors’ at Worcester’s Tudor House Museum. For details of these and thousands more events, visit www. heritageopendays.org.uk.
There are plenty of sites in London open during the festival, but the capital also has its own celebration of architectural heritage (much of it modern) in particular in the form of Open House London ( www.openhouselondon. org.uk) – this takes place on 16 and 17 September.
Clockwisefromtopleft: MiddletonHall, Warwickshire; theGribbinDaymark, built in1832asanavigationalaidforsailorswho wouldconfuseFoweyandStAustellharbours; CalshotCastle, Southampton; andNewman BrothersCoffinWorks, Birmingham