Heritage open days

Historic buildings, churches and venues across West Northamptonshire will be open to the public for free from Friday 10 to Sunday 19 September, as part of the national Heritage Open Days event, now in its 27th year.

The four-day event, coordinated locally by West Northamptonshire Council and run by volunteers, is a once-a-year opportunity to explore some of the area’s unique historic buildings and sites, many of which are usually restricted or charge for entry.

The 900-year old Delapre Abbey will open its doors to the public free of charge, including tours of the walled gardens and talks by local historians, covering the Battle of Northampton and the Eleanor Cross.

The original Jeyes chemists and museum will also be offering special tours and activities at their site in Earls Barton, while there will be talks and activities at the Hunsbury Hill Centre, including William the shire horse harrowing the wild flower meadow in Hunsbury Hill Country Park.

Several churches are among the buildings throwing their doors open to the public as part of the event, which is England's largest festival of history and culture. St Matthew’s Church in Northampton, home to the ‘Madonna and Child’ by world famous sculptor Henry Moore, St Andrew’s Church in Whiston, home to a ‘mysterious stone’ and the Saxon church of St John the Baptist in Kingsthorpe are all taking part.

Other highlights of the nine-day programme include the Northampton Heritage Fair at Delapre Abbey, including demonstrations, crafts and classic cars, 100 years of United Counties buses at Northampton’s Market Square and a self-guided green plaques trail around Cogenhoe Village. The ever-popular free boat trips on the Grand Union Canal will also sail from Blisworth.

Many participating venues will be linked up by the Heritage Bus Service, so visitors can enjoy a free ride on a classic bus, with buses departing from George Row in the town centre.

Pre-booking is required for some of the tours and early booking is recommended to avoid disappointment. Full details, including days and times, plus the bus timetable, can be found in the event brochure which will be available to download on this page from the beginning of September.

Further details about participating venues, plus other venues across the country, can also be found on the Heritage Open Days website: www.heritageopendays.org.uk

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