England’s largest festival of history and culture returns in September, and for the first time, the programme will include a mix of virtual tours and digital experiences as well as in-person events.
New online activities mean that communities across the South East will be able to celebrate the stories of the places and spaces that are important to them in different and innovative ways. Meanwhile, people from across the country will be able to ‘visit’ the region and participate in events such as interactive workshops and digital tours from the comfort of their home.
Many events will be also exploring this year’s theme – Hidden Nature – offering opportunities to discover the secret natural histories and stories of not just our landscapes, but also gardens, urban green spaces, farms, waterways, buildings and culture.
“Heritage Open Days is all about sharing amazing stories of the places, spaces, nature, heritage and history around us, and feeling part of a community has never been more important”, says Annie Reilly, Head of Producing at Heritage Open Days. “We’ve been planning new ways to keep people connected with each other and their local area, whether it’s from home with our new digital programme or exploring Hidden Nature in the great outdoors”.
In-person events will include exclusive walks, talks and exhibitions and explore archives, tunnels and gardens not normally open to the public, with adherence to local government guidelines ensuring a safe and relaxing visit. Continued support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery means every Heritage Open Days event is free – including entry to museums, country houses and other attractions which usually charge for admission.
HERITAGE OPEN DAYS’ 2020 HIGHLIGHTS
Rediscover Britain’s Lost Foods, Proudfoot & Co., Winchester (online)
Sat 12 and Sat 19 Sept, 7pm
Journey through the historical cookbook collection of drinks innovators, Proudfoot & Co. Participants for this live online recipe demonstration will learn about lost ingredients that can still be found in the wild, while learning how to make a variety of creative non-alcoholic drinks.
575 Wandsworth Road, The National Trust, London (online)
Tues 15 – Thurs 17 Sept, various times (booking required)
Explore this extraordinary home, intricately decorated with carvings by poet, Khadambi Asalache, with a 40-minute online experience. Access is normally very limited, but this series of interactive tours is using digital technology to share this building’s magical secret with more than people ever.
Live from Abingdon Museum, Abingdon County Hall Museum, Oxfordshire (online)
Sat 19 Sept, from 10:30am
Join a virtual tour around the galleries and through the history of England’s oldest continually inhabited town, from the iron age to car manufacturing. Visitors can meet the staff, ask questions and even join a live streamed character illustration masterclass with a local children’s book author.
Millennium Walk 20th Anniversary, Maidenhead Civic Society, Maidenhead
Sun 20 Sept, 1:45pm (booking required)
Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Millennium Walk and discover the Hidden Nature of the Berkshire countryside. This three-hour guided trail follows the town’s boundary stones which were placed in 1934, with plans hoping to also include part of Battlemead Common.
Rothamsted Manor Heritage Weekend, Harpenden
Sat 19 – Sun 20 Sept, 10am – 5pm (booking required)
Take an expert-led guided tour of this historic house and admire its many unique features. The whole family can also enjoy explore Hidden Nature through science activities, including an insect and plant scavenger hunt, a talk on food, and a look at agricultural machinery.
Mote Park Walks, Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone
Tues 15 – Thurs 17 Sept (dates and times vary per walk, booking required)
Enjoy a series of walks with the Park Manager to discover the Hidden Nature of this living landscape. Visitors can choose between a day time walk about the site’s past and present, twilight tales about wildlife emerging as the sun goes down, or even take a bat walk and discover the diversity of species which call the park home.
Hidden Spaces: Art and Nature, Tempo Arts Ltd, Eastbourne
Both weekends, Fri – Sun, 12pm – 4pm
Visit Langney Priory, thought to be the oldest building in Eastbourne. As well as exploring the gardens, visitors can also see sculptures, drawings and other art works from the Compass Community Arts group; an organisation working to support and empower people vulnerable to social exclusion.
The Peace Garden at the Muslim Burial Ground, Woking
Sun 20 Sept, 11:30am – 4pm
Reflect in this Islamic style Peace Garden set within the walls of Woking Muslim Military Cemetery on Horsell Common. Opened in 2015, visitors can learn about both the site’s natural environment as well as its symbolic architecture which commemorates the sacrifice of all Muslim servicemen who fought during the World Wars.
Grand Junction at St Mary Magdalene, Westminster
Sat 19 Sept, 11am – 4pm (booking required)
Visit one of the finest neo-Gothic churches in the country; a hidden gem in the heart of the capital. Visitors can learn about its history and recent conservation, marvel at the great artistry of its architecture and unique painted ceiling, and take a closer look at the new community heritage wing.
Full event listing are now available at: www.heritageopendays.org.uk
To ensure that visitors are safe and that events can keep to the latest government guidelines, all event details are subject to change or cancellation. Visitors should re-check details on our website and read the festival COVID considerations before confirming their plans nearer the time.
About Heritage Open Days
- All events are free, including access to many sites that usually charge for admission.
- Heritage Open Days is coordinated and promoted nationally by the National Trust with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, and run locally by a large range of organisations (including civic societies, heritage organisations, and local councils, community champions and thousands of enthusiastic volunteers).
- Heritage Open Days is England’s contribution to European Heritage Days, taking place across 50 countries. Other events in the UK are Doors Open Days in Scotland, Open Doors in Wales, European Heritage Open Days in Northern Ireland and Open House London.
- Heritage Open Days will continue to monitor government guidance and public health advice in respect of the coronavirus pandemic and act in accordance with the requirements. The HODs website will be updated accordingly; please check the site regularly for updates.
With a theme of Hidden Nature Heritrage Open Days bring a series of events to venues across the country and online, on Fri 11 – Sun 20 Sept 2020
All images by Heritage Open Days / Chris Lacey