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National Trust And Heritage Open Days

England's biggest festival of history and culture takes place this month, thanks to the National Trust and our players
Venturing into the Secret Forest (photo credit: Heritage Open Days, Chris Lacey)

This year's Heritage Open Days events will see more than 2,000 historic locations from churches to cotton mills, fire stations to museums, throw open their doors.

The National Trust supports the programme of special events and local exhibitions using funding provided by People's Postcode Lottery players. Players have raised more than £5.4 Million for the National Trust since 2013.

The work of the National Trust allows organisers and venues across the country to access the help and advice they need to run a successful Heritage Open Days event. The Heritage Open Days team advises on everything from creating new events, to recruiting local volunteers, to running a marketing campaign.

The team brings the Heritage Open Days community together so that organisers can get tips, share challenges and swap great ideas.

Public demand is huge. More than a million people took part in Heritage Open Days in 2022, when visitors had the opportunity to take part in some very unusual activities.

A "drainspotting" tour of Sheffield's Victorian pavement features proved popular, as did the opportunity to be a firefighter for a day at the Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum.

The programme of events for 2023, which runs from September 8th to September 17th, is equally eclectic.

BFI Film & Television Archive

A humble driveway in a small Hertfordshire town leads to a world class archive with an extensive and surprisingly diverse range of material in its collection.

The sensitive nature of the site and its work means that the doors can only be opened to the public for just one day each year. The festival gives the public a rare opportunity to see behind the scenes, where visitors can view the technology and vaults preserving the nation's film and TV heritage.

Jo Molyneux, Conservation Centre Co-ordinator, said, "The look of surprise and gasps from people when they enter our film vault make the team smile - most people are not prepared for quite how big it is!"

Paint Your Wagon

At Castlepoint Transport Museum in Canvey Island in Essex, you can take a ride into a different era. Learn about the history of Canvey's old bus garage from wartime onwards and find out about the shenanigans of the early bus companies.

Hop aboard vehicles from a range of areas and operators, and examine transport memorabilia like ticket machines, racks, clippies bags, old money, timetables, rule books, badges, bus stops and blinds. New for this year is an innovative mural featuring local children's artwork.

Lamport Hall Conservation Unlocked

Visitors to Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire will have the opportunity to explore this well-known stately home and gardens.

They can also meet the skilled conservators who work on the Hall's important collection of furniture and paintings. This will include a scanning demonstration and gilding workshop by Lincoln Conservation, a workshop by Landi textiles conservators and a book conservation demonstration by Bendix Library. Claire Seely Glass Design will also be showing visitors how to make stained glass with opportunities to have a go.

For families and younger visitors, there will be activities and hands-on crafts to enjoy, as well as a treasure trail and Georgian characters to encounter.

Winchester Muse Poetry Reading

Winchester Muse is described as Winchester's "premier poetry platform".

Audiences will hear from accomplished local poets who will be performing original works based on the Heritage Open Days theme of "Creativity Unwrapped".

The event will be held at the beautiful St. Lawrence Church in the heart of Winchester.

Old Southampton Cemetery: A Titanic tour!

Take a tour around Old Southampton Cemetery and discover the impact the sinking of the infamous Titanic had on Southampton. See the many graves and hear the stories of those lost at sea, including that of the lifeboat crew who saved the Countess of Rothes. Come hear the full story - and its aftermath!

Manchester Northern Quarter Street Sign Talk

At Manchester Craft & Design Centre, Tim Rushton and Liam Curtin, creators of the iconic Northern Quarter Street signs, will be talking us through their designs. They'll also be sharing tales of the centre back in the 1980s and 1990s. The talk will be followed by a print demonstration and a hands-on mono-printing session where visitors will be able to make prints and take away their creations.

Dereham's Fiery Dragon

At the railway station in Dereham in Norfolk, you can watch the 'fiery dragon' as it arrives and departs on scheduled passenger services and get a close look at the loco from the station platform. Listen as a retired railwayman reminisces about life on the tracks and keep an eye out for the fireman replenishing the train's tank from the water crane.

And So Much More

For your creative fix visit London's Museum of Brands, which will be screening nostalgic television adverts. Find out about the history of brick making at Hampshire's The Brickworks Museum. See where the magic happens and meet the talented team who build incredible jukeboxes at Sound Leisure in West Yorkshire.

And there is plenty for the younger generation. Visit London's The Golden Hinde during her 50th anniversary year, have a day out at Bradwell Abbey Medieval Family Fun Day, and delve into some incredible historical cases at Lancashire Police Museum in Lancaster Castle's former prison.

New Wave is a series of innovative youth-led events being produced for this year's Heritage Open Days festival. Enjoy the Cranford Park 'Out of Time' - Interactive Maze, sing your heart out at a Shanty Social in Portsmouth, and discover the amazing and secret history of Oxford's graffiti through the ages in a Hidden Heritage Graffiti Trail.

Liam Montgomery from the Heritage Open Days team said, "Creativity is abundant in the heritage sector - whether it's stories about creative people and the places that inspired them, or spotlighting the historic spaces home to creativity old-and-new such as theatres, cinemas, art galleries, libraries, and more, or focusing in on the ingenious creativity behind heritage skills such as conservation and heritage crafts that help preserve creativity for centuries to come.

"There are already over 2,000 events registered this year and we can't wait to see how our community celebrate the history of creativity this year."

Full details of these events and the rest of the Heritage Open Days programme can be found at (opens in new tab).

Making A Difference

People's Postcode Lottery players are helping deserving causes like the National Trust make a difference every single day. Read more about the range of Charities which our players support.

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Published: 11/09/2023

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