With over 1,000 events involving churches joining Heritage Open Days, there are hundreds of exciting activities happening this September. Equally, we think it is important to share heritage with everyone, and are proud of the number of family friendly events on offer over the weekend. To highlight these events, and encourage all the family to discover the heritage of their local parish, we have put together a list of our favourites.

Glimpse at our treasures

Experience for yourself the sounds and silence of Bristol Cathedral. A whole host of activities across the weekend are on offer for people of all ages. Over the weekend, join the choir for a Friday Evensong session, explore the history through talks and tours or try your hand at the family picture trail. This is the cathedral’s tenth year running an event with HODs so will be a great opportunity to explore the hidden treasures of this Bristol landmark with all the family.

Bristol Cathedral, Bristol

Birds of prey display

Not just a Cathedral, but also a bird of prey display! In the glorious grounds of this Norwich Cathedral, join the Norfolk Wild Encounters team to see the majestic birds of prey in their entire splendour. The Cathedral offers a haven for these rescued birds where they can stretch their wings and show off for your amusement. Not only will you be able to see the birds swoop and dive around the cathedral, there will also be a rare opportunity to stroke and handle some of them too.

Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Norwich

Beasts, Bells and Bishops

Join Sheffield Cathedral for a brand new beast’s trail which will be launched especially for Heritage Open Days all with photo and dress up opportunities! Wander up the cathedral by joining a bell tower tour which will once again be running. Go up the bell tower, see the ringing room and even try your hand at bell ringing. The new bell will be on site prior to its installation in the bell tower. Many HODs visitors may have contributed to the fundraising so do go along!

Sheffield Cathedral, Sheffield

Explore local history

Situated in the ancient Georgian town of Bath, St Swithin’s church is a relic of the town’s fascinating history. Overlooking the Paragon, a classic example of the Georgian architecture which lines the streets of Bath, this church is both impressive and unique. HODs are most excited to showcase this event for its fascinating history too, not only does it have links to Bath’s most famous resident Jane Austen, it is also the only Georgian Anglican church in Bath. Open for the whole festival, this is one event not be missed!

St Swithin, Bath

Arts and crafts for all

In this lovely site in Sheffield, which is one of our most family friendly events, join a local artist for special drop in, free, family art and craft sessions. First, everyone will discover the amazing hidden treasures, secrets and stories of the Cathedral's heritage. Then you will be inspired by heritage to draw, paint and create artwork with a whole range of materials. This will then be compiled for a special children’s exhibition in the Cathedral especially for the Heritage Open Days weekend.

St Marie Cathedral, Sheffield

Explore the parish and pilgrimage

With everything from amazing stained glass windows to flower displays, this church offers a whole host of events over the festival weekend. Join in celebrating 150 years of the present building with tours of the church and churchyard led by some lovely volunteers. You will be able to see the stained glass windows of some significant Victorian designers such as Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. On Thursday and Friday, the flowers will be laid ready for a beautiful festival to celebrate local heritage with all the family over the weekend.

St Michael & St Mary Magdalene, Easthampstead

800 years of heritage

2017 marks the 800th anniversary of the church's first recorded priest, William de Bugden in 1217 and St Mary’s will be holding many events to celebrate this over the weekend. On the Sunday, go along to tours of the current building, which was built in the 13th century, and learn about this amazing period of local history. Set in the most beautiful surroundings, the churchyard and nearby Buckden Towers offer a lovely chance for a family wander, or stop for refreshments to complete your historical weekend in Buckden.

St Mary, Buckden

St Oswald

With the church having been closed for repairs over the last seven years due to death watch beetle in the ceilings, this September offers a brilliant chance to see the building in all its revamped glory! Be sure to visit on the Saturday where a chance to see the tower will offer a spectacular insight into the heritage of this revitalised church. There is even a children's treasure hunt to solve clues in the church and the wonderful churchyard offers a space to play and picnic during the whole festival.

St Oswald, Winwick

Our Norman heritage

A fabulously old church, set in the middle of the beautiful Dorset countryside. A rural Norman church, local people speculate that it may be over 850 years old! Glimpse at the architectural features typical of the 12th century, from the church door to the ceilings and learn about how it has been adapted for modern church life since a fire in 2011. The open day promises to offer something for everyone, with everything from bell ringing, to arts and crafts for children- there will even be homemade cakes and tea for you enjoy!

St Mary, Maiden Newton

Tower tours, cake and heritage

One of the most exciting churches of the 21st century, the Holy Trinity Church became Hull Minster in just May this year! Celebrate this transformation by joining the wonderful heritage event in this striking feature of the Hull city centre. Stop and enjoy a soup, cake or tea in the Minster Kitchen before discovering how remarkable history is everywhere in this city. From tours looking at the stained glass, memorials and tower, to learning about figures of the past, the whole weekend offers a chance for you to explore a church as old as the city itself.

Hull Minster, Hull

The Montagu Monuments

St Edmund’s open weekend offers a chance to see many aspects of the church, from its history, to its architecture and beyond. Visitors on Heritage Open Days will receive a tour from volunteer guides to teach you about the four funeral monuments situated in the church. You will be free to explore the design of the monuments, the importance of the artists and the notable local people commemorated by them. There will also be other walks, tours, art activities and even a surprise very special activity on the Saturday, not to be missed!

St Edmund, Warkton

The UKs favourite

The cathedral in Coventry holds a remarkable story of war, peace and triumph for you to discover this September. The ruins of the Old Cathedral are left from the Blitz and the New Cathedral is celebrated as the UK’s favourite 20th century building and is known all over the world as an icon of peace and a truly stunning venue. Not only can you explore this important piece of heritage, you can also marvel at the third tallest tower in England and the largest collection of stained glass in the UK.

Coventry Cathedral, Coventry

#All Our Stories

Within this Leeds church, a weekend full of stories, tales and rumours can be enjoyed. There will be afternoon talks focusing on funny, serious, mysterious, present and past stories of people in and around Holy Trinity church. This promises to be the most marvellous way to celebrate 290 years since church’s consecration, and is sure to entertain all the family with stories of local heritage.

Holy Trinity, Leeds

Explore hidden places with Heritage Open Days!

Heritage Open Days is England's largest festival of history and culture, bringing together over 2,500 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers. Every year for four days in September, places across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history. This even includes over 1000 events every year involving churches. For 2017, we are running from the 7th-10th September. Heritage Open Days your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences. And it’s all free!

Find out more

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