10 September 2015
SIG: Archaeology and Heritage
You know that sign: whether you’re in a hotel or museum, there’s always a door marked “Private” or “Staff only”. If you’ve ever been tempted to press down the handle and have a quick peek behind those closed doors, you’ll be in for a treat this weekend. Because from Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 September, over 4,800 events across England will invite you to indulge your curiosity as part of Heritage Open Days.
© Chichester Cathedral Library, West Sussex
Venues of every style and function, from castles to city halls, factories to family homes, will open their doors free of charge for Britain’s most popular annual heritage festival. From undercrofts to tower tops, workshops to strong rooms, many places will also be unlocking areas that are usually off-limits. It’s a chance to experience what goes on behind the scenes and discovering countless hidden treasures as well as new perspectives. In short, it’s a dream destination for any photographer in search for new vistas and unusual details to zoom in on.
© Roger Stanley. A Long Way Up, Hadlow Tower, Tonbridge, Kent
And if you think heritage is only about old buildings, you are mistaken. Thanks to a new partnership with RIBA’s Love Architecture programme, Heritage Open Days 2015 showcases a wide range of contemporary buildings and architect-led tours. What’s more, this year’s event has never been more diverse with many regular participants taking new creative approaches to celebrate their heritage assets. In Hastings for example, visitors can strut their stuff at a silent disco on Hastings Pier while in Blackburn they can have a go at clog dancing.
© Gateshead Libraries Local Studies Collection; Dunston Staiths, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
To mark the European Industrial and Technical Heritage Year, the spotlight will also be on a range of industrial heritage sites from Dunston Staiths on the River Tyne, believed to be the largest timber structure in Europe, to the once top secret first model dam in Watford, used by Barnes Wallis to develop what later would become the Dambusters' Bouncing Bomb.
© Michael Imison, Interior of the Cross Ram Offices, Halesworth, Suffolk
Coordinated by the National Trust with funding from Historic England and players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the festival owes its success and appeal to thousands of local people who organise openings and activities to bring local history and culture alive. Its their knowledge, passion and generosity that make this festival truly unique.
So, what are you waiting for? Browse our event directory at www.heritageopendays.org.uk to plan this weekend’s photography trip. And why not share with us your best shots afterwards! You can upload your images onto our Heritage Open Days scrapbook page and if you post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, please use our hashtag #hods.
Katja Condy, Heritage Open Days Manager
Feature photo: Dyrham Park, Bath, Gloucestershire © Chris Lacey