The annual celebration of our countries fantastic history, architecture and culture returns between Thurday 8th and Sunday 11th September for Heritage Open Days.
The free event ran by volunteers up and down the country gives numerous rare opportunities to visit some of our oldest buildings and get a sneak peak in to the every day workings of other cultural hotspots. We’ll break down our top picks in to the different areas of our beautiful region to give you an overview of some must see spots over the course of the event.
Tyne And Wear
With the most events listed, Tyne And Wear will probably be the most popular spot for most culture crawlers. Starting around the river, the Dunston Staiths will be giving visitors a chance to visit one of the largest timber structures in the world ahead of its restoration as a future tourist attraction. There’ll even be a food market on the 10th to keep those bellies full. St. Mary’s Heritage Centre will be opening its doors to explorers and hosting its annual Heritage Pub Quiz with added parlour games. Brush up on your 19th century history for this one. For architecture enthusiasts, Saltwell Park Heritage Walk offers a guided tour around the 12 Grade II listed structures situated within the park. The Grainger Market will offer guided tours of its Grade I architecture and the history behind the inception and restoration of the market. For those eager to learn more about the history of Newcastle, John Grundy will give a talk delving into the cities medieval history and beyond. A bit further afield we have the Tynemouth Lighthouse, giving visitors an inside look in to the building and its history from its inception, and for those still sore from mine closures many moons ago, visit the Rising Sun Country Park for a film and exhibition exploring the coal mining heritage of North Shields.
County Durham and Tees Valley
For literature and history fans, Bowes in the Footsteps of Charles Dickens gives the opportunity to trace Dickens passage through Bowes in the aid of research for his novel Nicholas Nickleby. Those wanting to visit the beautiful architecture of the county can head to Auckland Caste to bask in its fascinating history and original structure before major restoration works begin, or head to Durham Castle for a guided tour of the Grade I listed building. All Saints church provides a chance to admire its ancient architecture as well and even invite you to try your hand at bell ringing. If you’re wanting to engage with the rural landscape then the Flass Vale event offers beautiful walks as well as some poetry pit-stops along the way. For those not afraid of heights, head down to the Tees Valley to experience the views from the 160ft elevation of the Tees Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough. Or for a decent chunk of history, visit the original Methodist octagonal church in Yarm, built in 1763. And for those train enthusiasts out there, Head Of Steam – Darlington’s railway museum – is offering free tours around its establishment.
Northumberland’s leg of the open days is crammed with churches, so if you’re into religious heritage and architecture then this is your place. Otherwise we have The Dilston Physic Garden, which offers one of the biggest collections of medicinal plants for your educational perusal. Or be fascinated by crime, punishment and torture with a free talk in one of the oldest prisons in England, Hexham’s Old Gaol. A rare treat presents itself in the form of Rocket House in Newbiggen by the Sea. It was once a supply centre for those in turmoil on the waters which has been closed off since 1970, giving visitors a glimpse of the past.
We hope you’ve found something that sparks your interest, if not, there are heaps of listings on the Heritage Open Days website here for you to start to plan your days out.