From today (September 7) until this Sunday (September 10) you can experience tourist attractions and sites in England for free as part of Heritage Open Days. The venues included usually charge an admission fee or are closed to the public.
Over 5,000 free events will take place over the four-day festival, with some of our best-loved institutions taking part, including the M&S Archive, the British Film Institute, the Bourneville Village Trust, Tate Liverpool and the Ashmolean Museum. In addition, over 120 National Trust properties will open their doors for free. See the full list of heritage sites open for free.
Here’s what’s new for 2017
Human Henge, Dorset
Join the Human Henge group for a sensory experience of Stonehenge's ancient landscape. Together we will walk a circuit of the stones, sing and learn in the company of archaeologists and musicians, and have the opportunity to hear about people's experiences of Human Henge and their connection to this mysterious place.
From Wivenhoe with Love, Wivenhoe, Essex
One of four landmark events focusing on LGBTQ history, From Wivenhoe focuses on the extraordinary 71-year love affair between renowned landscape painter Denis Wirth-Miller, and his partner Richard Chopping - famous for his cover illustrations of James Bond novels. For over fifty years they lived in Wivenhoe, Essex, bringing a frisson of bohemian life to a small, provincial town, along with five decades of British Art. Renowned artist Scottee, along with Miller and Chopping’s official biographer, Jon Lys Turner, will celebrate their lives in a weekend festival of new performance work, talks and workshops.
Top Secret, Farmborough, Nr Bath
Normally only accessible to the public, when booked as a holiday home, Top Secret is a former Royal Observer Corps Master Nuclear Bunker. It was the site for activating the four-minute nuclear attack warning for the surrounding area during the Cold War; surprisingly it was built in the heart of a megalithic barrow. Visitors can learn about 4,000 years of activity on Barrow Hill, in the exhibition ‘From Romans to Radiation.’
Strawberry Studios, Stockport
Explore the building that housed the famous Strawberry Recording Studios from 1968-1993, and stand in the control room where 10CC, Joy Division, The Smiths and hundreds of other famous artists recorded their hit records. Thanks to the generosity of the Chris Hewitt Museum of Rock, see some of the authentic Strawberry technical equipment back in its original surroundings and learn about Strawberry's rich history, as Stockport celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Studio's formation in 1967.
A Look Inside the Old Post Office, Newcastle
The Old Post Office opened in 1876, and was once the hub of Newcastle City Centre, handling 81 million lettersand over 4.8 million telegrams per year. New owner NBS invested £6m in 2016, creating an award-winning office space and ensuring it remained part of the city’s heritage. NBS also launched a Memory Box campaign, to encourage those who worked in or used the post office to share their memories – some of the collection will be on show as an exhibition, along with the chance to tour the building and see the rooftop garden.
Sat & Sun 11am-4pm
England’s First Mosque, Liverpool
Discover the story of Abdullah Quilliam, who converted to Islam in 1887 and founded the first Mosque in England. For almost 100 years the building was Liverpool Records office, whose staff called it 'The Little Mosque', unaware of its history. Learn about the building and the work of the team aiming to restore it.
Sat & Sun 10am-5pm
'Swarm', Skelton Grange, Leeds
Created to celebrate Skelton Grange's 25th birthday, ‘Swarm' is an ecologically-inspired exhibition, created by local artists, responding to the decline of bees in the landscape. Visitors can walk inside an enormous 3D printed ‘Hive’ of 50,000 bees, and through woodland and meadows to see outdoor works of art.
Thurs-Sun 10am-4pm (Sun from 11am)
The Secrets Tunnels of Saltaire, Shipley, W Yorks
A unique opportunity to travel back in time and walk in the footsteps of the millworkers and students of Victorian Saltaire who used tunnels constructed beneath the roads to get to work or to their studies. These tunnels have never been been publicly accessible before.
Saturday & Sunday 10am-4.30pm
Sky Heroes, Kenley Revival Project, Caterham
Sky Heroes is a great family day out highlighting RAF Kenley’s Battle of Britain history, including guided tours and museum and archaeology stands with activities for all ages. Learn about RAF Kenley’s fighter pilots complete with replica Spitfire and Hurricane where you can sit in the cockpit. Visit the Operations Room, meet the pilot re-enactors and hop on a land train to help you explore.