Thou­sands of her­itage sites open their doors

Her­itage Open Days presents lat­est Septem­ber show­case

Your Family History - - Agenda: History And Genealogy News -

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

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