England’s largest festival of history and culture, Heritage Open Days is back this 9-18 September. Presented by the National Trust, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and run by thousands of local organisations and volunteers, Heritage Open Days (HODs) gives everyone free access to experiences and events across England.
Each year places across the country, including select National Trusts sites near you, throw open their doors and give people the chance to see hidden places and try new experiences for free.
This year, many events will adopt this year’s theme ‘Astounding Inventions’, offering a celebration of cutting-edge creations that make our lives easier, and the imaginative inventors behind them.
Here are some of the National Trust HOD events happening across the East of England…
Heritage Open Days at Horsey Windpump
Saturday 10 September, 10am-4pm
Horsey Windpump is an iconic invention sitting amongst an array of rare wildlife. Discover the history of the windpump, enjoy the buzzing wildlife garden or take one of the many scenic walking routes around Horsey.
Horsey Windpump has a fascinating past and is the perfect gateway to experience the connection between man and nature. Standing sentinel over the mere and surrounding Broadland landscape, a climb to the top is rewarded with beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding countryside an opportunity not to be missed. Come and find out more about this astounding invention and the part that Windpumps played in our local history.
Last entry at 3pm, tour times available on arrival. Free entry, no booking required. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/horsey-windpump
Heritage Open Days at Felbrigg Hall
Saturday 10-Wednesday 14 September, noon-4pm
One of the most elegant country houses in East Anglia, the Hall is a place of surprises and delights, a mixture of opulence and homeliness where each room evokes the imagination.
Inside see stained glass windows, beautiful hand painted wallpaper in the Chinese bedroom and Queen Mary’s teapot. Our room guides will be around to answer any questions you might have about our fascinating history and the collection. Then head outside to enjoy the stunning walled garden, the rolling landscape and waymarked trails.
Free entry from 10-14 September, no booking required. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/felbrigg-hall-gardens-and-estate
BSL Interpreted: Heritage Open Days at Blickling Estate
Conservation conversations (Park Life)
Wednesday 14 September, 11am-1pm and 2-4pm
Join us for a conservation conversation as our experts show you how we look after this special place and plan to protect it for future generations. The park at Blickling has changed over the centuries but there are remnants of an ancient landscape in the woods and park today. Join Countryside Manager, Stuart Banks, for a walk to meet some truly remarkable trees and discover some of the habitats and wildlife that call Blickling home. We’ll also explore the effects of climate change in the parkland setting and how that influences the decisions we make today, as well as how we’re working to discover more about tree pests and diseases.
A BSL interpreter will be available for this guided walk. Booking essential. Free tour. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blickling-estate
Heritage Open Days at Elizabethan House Museum
Thursday 15-Sunday 18 September, 10am-4pm
Explore this charming quayside merchant’s home which was built in 1596 and learn about its historical connections and the lives of the families who lived here. A house where you can experience family life from Tudor to Victorian times.
Free entry. No booking required. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/elizabethan-house-museum
Sheringham Park’s Pill Boxes
Friday 16 and Saturday 17 September, 11am-4pm
Two pillboxes at Sheringham Park that are normally closed, will be open for visitors to step inside. These were part of the defences of this section of the Norfolk coast. Two slightly different designs can be seen in conjunction with other nearby defensive structures. These, along with maps of the complete defensive layouts, will shed more light on Norfolk’s plan of defence.
No booking required. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sheringham-park
Heritage Open Days at Oxburgh
Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 September, 9.30am-5pm
Home to the Bedingfeld family for 500 years, Oxburgh reveals one family’s unshakable Catholic faith and story of endurance. Explore Victorian Gothic interiors, curious collections, peaceful woodland walks and colourful gardens.
Inside, peel back the layers of history as you wander through a house filled with portraits, treasured objects and fascinating documents on loan from the current Baronet, Sir Henry Bedingfeld’s private collection. Especially for Heritage Open Days, we’re taking you behind the scenes to our collections store, which is normally closed to visitors, where you can see how we catalogue and care for Oxburgh’s collection. All tours are bookable on the day.
Outside, the original gardens at Oxburgh Hall have long since disappeared, however what you see today mirrors their footprint and forms a mixture of formal and wilderness. From the productive kitchen garden and herbaceous border to estate walks through woodland and meadows. Find out more about Oxburgh’s fascinating history and how we care for it today, on one of our volunteer-led guided tours.
Free entry throughout the weekend. No booking required. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oxburgh-hall
Heritage Open Days at Anglesey Abbey
Monday 12-Sunday 18 September, 9.30am-4.30pm
Come and explore the beautiful gardens and house at Anglesey Abbey. See riots of colour and rainbow in the Dahlia Border, plus explore the small but significant collection of artwork by John Constable in our Constable Revealed object trail.
Full of adventures waiting to happen, Hoe Fen is great for children of all ages to have a wild adventure. Reach new heights with a trip to the top floor of the treehouse or test your agility with our new scramble climber. There’s plenty to do if you’re looking to get stuck into nature, from den building to scavenger hunting, the possibilities are endless!
Pre-booking is essential for free entry. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/angleseyabbey
Heritage Open Days at Wimpole Estate
Monday 12, Tuesday 13 and Thursday 15 – Sunday 18 September, 10am – 4pm
Come and enjoy the impressive house, once home to Elsie Bambridge, daughter of English writer and Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling. Discover the fantastic gardens, abundant with fruit, vegetables, and herbaceous borders. Visit Home Farm, with its historic barns, modern piggery and cattle shed. Then explore the parkland, where you can enjoy views of the Gothic Folly and ornate Chinese Bridge.
The Old Rectory Restaurant will be open daily for lunch or for you to while away late summer afternoons with tea and cake. In the Stable Block, you will find the second-hand bookshop and shop. Why not pick up a gift or souvenir to remind you of your visit to Wimpole or maybe even that novel you have been searching for?
On selected days, enjoy a tour of the extensive gardens with one of the outdoors team. Tours available Tuesday 13 at 2pm, Thursday 15 at 11am and Saturday 17 at 11am and 2pm. Pick up your tour ticket on arrival at the Welcome Building.
Free entry. No booking required.
Heritage Open Days at Ickworth
Friday 9-Sunday 18 September, 10am-4pm
With over 1800 acres of parkland, gardens and new all-weather path to enjoy, Ickworth is the perfect place to get back to nature. Discover formal gardens, pleasure grounds, rolling Suffolk landscape and woodlands, all of which invite gentle strolls, long walks, runs, bike rides and picnics.
Ickworth house with its classical Rotunda, East and West Wings, forms the centrepiece of Ickworth estate. It reflects its former owners, the Hervey Family’s tenacious spirit and has been preserved by the custodianship and influence of unconventional men and women over successive generations.
The immaculate Italianate gardens at Ickworth encircle the stunning Rotunda. The earliest surviving example of their kind, the 1st Marquess designed the gardens as pleasure grounds for his family and guests to enjoy. The legacy he left has been carefully cultivated by successive generations and continues to delight the senses.
There will be special Heritage Open Day tours. Free entry, no booking required.
Heritage Open Days at Valley Farm, Flatford
Sunday 11 September, 11am-4pm
The ancient hall of Valley Farm in the hamlet of Flatford, will be open to view, allowing visitors to look up at the blackened rafters and see the huge inglenook fireplace and medieval staircase.
Free entry, no booking required.
Heritage Open Days at Grange Barn – Local History Fair
Sunday 18 September, 10am-4pm
As part of this year’s Heritage Open Days, enjoy free access to Grange Barn and Local History Fair. Discover the fascinating history of the local area and beyond, enjoy stalls, displays, demonstrations and talks from a range of local organisations, groups and craftspeople.
Free entry, no booking required.