Heritage lets you move forward by looking back – not getting stuck in a boiled version of the past like a piece of pork in aspic (welcome to our Brexit readers). And Heritage Open Days are celebrating 25 years with 10 days of free Heritage events throughout the country.
“Yesterday’s dreams shape today’s reality. What future are you dreaming of?” begins the Unsung Stories commission page for Heritage Open Days. And this year that goes to Craftivist Collective’s Sarah Corbett and Dare To Dream. We spoke to Sarah about craftivism, campaigning and chilling out (and were pretty mind-blown by her calm authority and optimism). Check it out.
And there’s much more going on to. We’ve picked a selection from the South West (see below). But the whole of England is taking part and offering different insights into its rich, varied and sometimes uncovered heritage.
Heritage Open Days is England’s contribution to European Heritage Days, taking place across 50 countries… just saying.
Festival of history
Heritage Open Days is supported by the National Trust and players of People’s Postcode Lottery. It’s England’s biggest festival of history and culture, and it will offer visitors across the South West the opportunity to enjoy family days out, explore places not normally open to the public, and learn more about the heritage on their doorstep.
A special programme of People Power events will also highlight communities, groups and individuals – both contemporary and from history – who have affected positive change; buildings saved, greenspaces created, friendships forged, campaigns fought and voices heard. While a series of ‘craftivism’ workshops will encourage everyone to become change-makers, by combining craft and activism as part of this year’s Unsung Stories arts project, Dare to Dream.
Around 700 events are planned in the region, with highlights including Highcliffe Castle, Roadford Reservoir Pumping Station and the former home of the World Wildlife Fund’s founder.
NEW FOR 2019
Scott House at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Gloucester
See the 1950s home of environmental conservation campaigner, Sir Peter Scott, once visited by the Queen. Learn about his life and work, and the People Power he harnessed in founding the local Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust as well as the World Wildlife Fund. Sat 14th, 10am – 4pm
NEW FOR 2019
Dunshay Manor, The Landmark Trust, Dorset
Visit this newly-restored manor house, normally closed to the general public. Visitors will also learn about the remarkable artistic family who lived there in the 20th century, the SpencerWatsons, whose talents included portrait painting, sculpting, dance and mime. Sat 21st and Sun 22nd, 10am – 4pm
Railway Village Museum, Swindon
Learn about Victorian reuse, repair and recycling! Visitors to the museum can find out about life before plastic, have a go at upcycling 19th-century style with rag rug making, and think about how People Power can reduce pollution and waste by learning from the past. Sat 14th and Sun 15th, 10:30am – 4pm
Dare to Dream Workshop, Curzon Cinema and Arts, Somerset
Join this workshop exploring positive change through gentle protest, as part of this year’s Dare to Dream arts project. After taking inspiration from a tour of the historic cinema, participants will stitch a dream for the future onto a fabric ‘dream cloud’, to share publicly and encourage us all to be solution-seekers. Sun 15th, 12pm – 2pm
GREAT FOR FAMILIES
Avebury, National Trust, Wiltshire
Go back in time at the world’s largest prehistoric stone circle! Kids will have fun exploring the site outside, handling and drawing some of the museum’s exhibits, and even unearthing a replica Neolithic burial on an archaeological-dig in the activity area. Sun 15th, 11am – 5pm
GREAT FOR FAMILIES
The Secret Forest, Coleford Area Partnership, Gloucestershire
Explore the Secret Forest! Children will be enchanted by the ancient twisted branches and magical cave-like hollows in the trees on a walk through this incredible woodland, and can learn about the Iron Age while exploring the replica roundhouse village. Fri 13th and Fri 20th, 10am – 4pm
NOT NORMALLY OPEN
Roadford Reservoir Pumping Station, South West Water, Devon
Find out where the region’s water comes from at this reservoir pumping station. Containing enough water to fill nearly 14,000 Olympic swimming pools, visitors can walk under the dam, as well as climbing to the top of the valve tower to admire the picturesque Dartmoor countryside. Thurs 19th and Fri 20th, 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1:30pm and 2:30pm
OPENING FOR FREE
Highcliffe Castle, Dorset Architectural Heritage Week, Dorset
Discover a Gothic Revival castle on the cliff tops! With spectacular views across the Solent, visitors can also admire the Grade I architectural French masonry and 9-metre high stained-glass window, with an opportunity to see the newly restored East Wing. Wed 18th, 10am – 5pm
Full listings can be searched here: www.heritageopendays.org.uk