This year’s festival will explore Hidden Nature with a mixture of in-person and online events
11th–20th September 2020
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.
Here’s a look at just some of this year’s highlights in the wider region:
Rediscover Britain’s Lost Foods, Proudfoot & Co., Winchester (online)
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.
Sat 12th and Sat 19th, 7pm
575 Wandsworth Road, The National Trust, London (online)
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.
Tues 15th, Wed 16th and Thur 17th, various times (booking required)
Live from Abingdon Museum, Abingdon County Hall Museum, Oxfordshire (online)
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.
Sat 19th, from 10:30am
Millennium Walk 20th Anniversary, Maidenhead Civic Society, Maidenhead
Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Millennium Walk and discover the Hidden Nature of the
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.
Sun 20th, 1:45pm (booking required)
Rothamsted Manor Heritage Weekend, Harpenden
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.
Sat 19th and Sun 20th, 10am – 5pm (booking required)
Mote Park Walks, Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone
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.
Tues 15th – Thurs 17th (dates and times vary per walk, booking required)
Hidden Spaces: Art and Nature, Tempo Arts Ltd, Eastbourne
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.
Both weekends, Fri – Sun, 12pm – 4pm
The Peace Garden at the Muslim Burial Ground, Woking
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.
Sun 20th, 11:30am – 4pm
Grand Junction at St Mary Magdalene, Westminster
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.
Sat 19th, 11am – 4pm (booking required)
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.