You can explore the ruins of a Benedictine Priory, unravel the stories of heroes, police officers and politicians buried in Eastbourne, and discover the heritage, history and folklore of the cliffs of Seaford in this year’s Heritage Open Days. Running on Fri 8 Sept – Thurs 17 Sept, historic sites will throw open their doors for England’s largest festival of history and culture.
Councillor Margaret Bannister, Eastbourne Borough Council’s Lead Member for Tourism, Leisure, Accessibility & Community Safety said: “There is something to interest everyone of all ages during the Heritage Open Days and I hope people enjoy discovering our wonderful town’s rich heritage.
“It is an ideal opportunity for people to discover the stories behind the buildings and places in Eastbourne we walk past. This gives people the chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – all of which are free to explore.”
Eastbourne Heritage Centre will be open on Fri 8 – Sun 10 Sept for people to discover and explore Eastbourne’s story.
Visitors can learn about the glorious seafront parades, pier, bandstands, architecture, how the railway brought prosperity, the town’s survival of more than 90 Second World War air raids, east end fishing and working communities.
Wilmington Priory will also be offering free admission to its historic site on Sat 16 – Sun 17 Sept. Dating back to 1215, this former Benedictine Abbey just below the Long Man of Wilmington is a complex puzzle of structures. This is a rare chance to stroll the ruins and see inside the Landmark Trust’s restoration of the farmhouse, now normally let for holidays.
On Mon 11 – Sat 16 Sept, there will be a chance to explore the inside of Motcombe Garden’s historic Dovecote and learn about the history of one Eastbourne’s most important medieval farms. Opening especially for Heritage Open Days, visitors will also get the opportunity to learn about the archaeology, history and stories of the site and there will be a small display of finds and photographs.
There will be a guided tour of Ocklynge Cemetery on Sun 10 Sept.
This will include a history of burial in Eastbourne and of the cemetery and explain some of the symbolism shown on gravestones. There will be stories of both local and national heroes from police officers to politicians and several war graves.
There will also be a Motcombe Meander on Mon 11 Sept with Kevin Gordon, who will talk about the historic Dovecote and medieval tales along with a tour exploring local history illustrated with copies of old photographs.
On Sat 9 & Sat 16 Sept, the Walk the Chalk team will be meeting in Seaford for a tour which teaches us about the ground beneath our feet. Daring smugglers and determined Excisemen, stoic Coastguards and the thousands of men who journeyed through on their way to the Frontlines of the First World War- you’ll discover art installations, tales will be told and stories unravelled in this exciting tour put on only for Heritage Open Days! Booking is essential.
Sir Charles Lucas and his heritage will be uncovered at a Heritage Open day at the home of his ancestors in Compton Place Road.
Visitors can view portraits and objects relating to the history of the family. Sir Charles Lucas, who was the third son of a wealthy and not particularly well-behaved Essex family, rose to be a senior cavalry commander under King Charles I until he was executed after the siege of Colchester at the end of the Civil War. With hourly tours running Fri 15 – Sat 16 Sept, you can discover the story of his family, and of what happened over the next 370 years, all framed around the portraits which document their history.