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30+ Heritage Open Days 2020: ‘Hidden Nature’ in Cov & Warks

Discover the hidden nature that exists on our doorsteps for free from Sept 11-20, as areas of the countryside, gardens, green spaces, urban parks, orchards, vineyards, farms and forests are opened up, as well as built heritage.

Hidden Nature across England. Photo credit: Heritage Open Days, Chris Lacey

England’s largest festival of history and culture is back from Friday September 11 until Sunday September 20, with this year’s theme being Hidden Nature.

Historic and landmark buildings will once again be throwing open their doors for free Heritage Open Days across Coventry and Warwickshire – and in a new twist there’s an opportunity to discover the hidden history of our natural landscapes, from socially distanced ‘netwalking’ and rural rambles, to nature-inspired art collections, scavenger hunts, food and craft events.

Heritage Open Days across the country include Albury Organic Vineyard in Surrey. Photo by Chris Lacey

Sees some venues and outdoor spaces will be opening for pre-booked events, exhibitions, zoom presentations and visits by small groups, while others will offer virtual tours and digital experiences to educate people about the county’s past. 

Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon

Here’s places in Coventry and Warwickshire’s hidden historic gems to explore and new experiences to try for free from this Friday, alternatively find a place near you here:

NATIONAL TRUST ONLINE

Baddesley Clinton, Knowle & Packwood House, Lapworth, from Sept 12

Take a virtual look at the conservation work that takes place through Baddesley Clinton’s Facebook page and also Packwood’s house’s Facebook page. Exclusive digital content will be uploaded on the first Saturday of the Heritage open Day week.

WARWICK

Hill Close Gardens, Warwick, September 12 & 13, 11am to 5pm 

Aerial shot Credit: Hill Close Gardens

Enjoy exploring the history of one of Warwickshire’s hidden nature gardens with 16 stunning restored Victorian detached gardens with summerhouses. A rarity in the UK.

Warwick Castle, evening access, Sept 11

On September 11, for the first time, the castle is teaming-up with Heritage Open Days to offer evening access. History experts will help as visitors wander throughout beautiful castle interiors. They’ll be on hand to answer questions and share fascinating facts about the castle and its 1,100 year history. People can also access the stunning grounds, including Pageant Field; landscaped by Capability Brown, and the Peacock Garden with its friendly, feathered residents.

Great Fire of Warwick Walk, Sept 11, 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm 

The walk, lasting 90 minutes, will show the route of the Great Fire of Warwick, looking at the Lord Leycester Hospital, the Court House, St Mary’s Church and Market Hall Museum. Booking required, groups limited to 10 people, call 01926 492 212 or email lizhealey@visitwarwick.co.uk 

Virtual tour: St Peter Apostle Catholic Church, Warwick, Sept 12, 10am to 4pm

 Built in 1864, St Peter’s is a striking Gothic-Romanesque church designed by Henry Clutton. An altar decorated by AW Pugin is just one of a wealth of special features. Virtual tour available.

Fusilier Museum Warwick, Sept 16, 10am and 5pm

Find out about more than 300 years of history of the county’s infantry regiment. Discover amazing stories – Hannah Snell, a female soldier; ‘Bobby’, the antelope mascot; the cartoonist Bruce Bairnsfather; Field Marshals Slim and Montgomery; and the famous D-Day landings. Talks will also be taking place on Zoom including:  

  • The Regiment & the Fusilier Museum Warwick – Sept 11, 6.30pm. Email rrfwarksmuseum@btconnect.com for more details. 
  • Stretton to Suvla: Warwickshire and the Gallipoli Campaign – September 16 – 7.30pm – email  warwickfus@btinternet.com for more details. 

Guy’s Cliffe Walled Garden, Warwick, Sept 12 and 13, 10am to 3.45pm (last entry 3pm)

Explore the fascinating history of Guy’s Cliffe walled gardens, dating from the 1770s and supplying the Guy’s Cliffe estate until the 1940s. Work began six years ago to restore the Garden, using plans from the early 19th century. Booking required, timed tickets only, call 01926 492 212 or email lizhealey@visitwarwick.co.uk 

Heritage and Culture Warwickshire‘s virtual tour of collection: Behind the Scenes of Warwickshire Museum Stores, Sept 17

Warwickshire-Virtual-Open-Conservation-Studio. Credit-Sarah-Peek

A first look at the new museum stores facility with Abi Flack and Sara Wear, from our curatorial team.  Abi will take you on a tour of the stores and both Sara and Abi will take your questions live. During questions Abi will be a ‘roving’ curator and can move round the stores to pick out any objects you may have questions about – shorturl.at/abrJ0  Time: 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

The Court House, Warwick, Sept 19, 11am to 3pm

Designed and built by Francis Smith in 1725, the Court House replaced a medieval tavern and is one of the few buildings which survived the Great Fire of Warwick in 1694. Free tours of the building by Unlocking Warwick volunteers will be held at 11am and 2pm each lasting 45 minutes. Limited places so booking is essential with the Warwick Visitor Information Centre in person or call 01926 492212. Covid-19 guidelines in place. 

St John The Baptist Church, Wasperton, Warwick, Sept 12 and 13

This small church remodelled in 1847 by GG Scott includes a 16th Century pulpit, an 18th century wrought iron communion rail, a timber porch, bellcote with spirelet and two Pugin designed windows. Time: 11am-4pm.

BARFORD

St Peter’s Church, Barford, nr Warwick, Sept 13, 16 and 20

There’s been a church on the site since Saxon times. The present church was re-built in the 1840s with the exception of the tower which is 14th century. Careful examination of the Tower’s exterior shows bullet holes left during the Civil War. Time: 10am-4pm.

LEAMINGTON SPA

Paint the Yard – Street Art Festival, Leamington Spa – Sept 20 12 noon-8pm 

Visit Paint the Yard, Leamington’s street art festival, to see how Leamington’s Spencer Yard has been transformed into an outdoor gallery. Booking is required and a virtual tour available.

St Mary’s Allotments, Leamington Spa, Sept 12 & 13, Sept 19 & 20, 10am to 4pm

An allotment site with riverside chalets, established in 1894 on the banks of the River Leam. The site has a unique shed featured in TV design competition, baths from a local Victorian hospital and sculpture trail.

Foundry Wood, Leamington Spa – Self-guided walks, Sept 11 – Sept 20, 10am to 4pm

There will be self-guided walks at the community woodland created on the site of the Ford Foundry and former railway sidings, with footpaths, pond and outdoor classroom.

Royal Pump Rooms, Leamington 

Watch a recorded virtual tour to find out about the history of the building and Leamington’s spa waters presented by Collections & Engagement Manager, Vicki.

Holy Trinity Church, Leamington – September 12 and 19, 12 noon to 3pm

Visit a Grade II listed building which was originally built as a proprietary chapel in 1847. It has a Daniel Cottier Arts and Crafts stained glass window, among others, and Italian mosaics on the chancel floor.

Leamington History Group 

Watch a fascinating film about Leamington’s transformation from a small village to a thriving spa town has been produced by Leamington History Group and Postmaster Media. 

Leamington Society

Take a free virtual walk through the wonderful Jephson Gardens, looking at special trees on the way.

Visit the Polish Centre, Leamington Spa, Sept 13 and 20

Leamington Spa’s first Town Hall and former Police Station has, for the past 50 years, served as a centre for the Polish Community. The original Council Chamber and the upper part of the Ballroom can be viewed, 12 noon to 3pm.

Catholic Church of Our Lady, Lillington, Leamington Spa, Sept 20

A magnificent modern church, with some of the most significant examples of dalle de verre glass in the country. A rare opportunity to appreciate the stunning interior. Virtual Tour available, 10am to 4pm.

SOUTHAM

All Saints Church, Ladbroke, Southam, nr Leamington, Virtual Tour, Sept 12

Take a virtual tour of architectural gem, All Saints Church with its unusual striped tower, Gilbert Scott interior and fine stained glass. Time: 2.30pm.

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON

Royal Shakespeare Company – RSC Snapshots pop-up outdoor theatre until end of Sept

An extended run of the world-class Stratford company’s popular pop-up socially distanced outdoor theatre RSC Snapshots running until the end of September on weekends from Friday to Sunday for 45 minutes at 1pm and 3pm each day.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust – virtual local history museum & Shakespeare’s Birthplace is open to the public daily, (normal admission applies)

Shakespeare’s Birthplace (above) is open to the public, daily between 10am and 4pm. Tickets must be booked in advance at Shakespeare’s Birthplace, normal admission charges apply.

The Trust is also ‘virtually’ opening up its extensive local history museum collection. Rarely seen treasures that help to tell the stories of some of the people and places from Stratford-upon-Avon’s past will be shared throughout the week on the charity’s Twitter and Facebook pages. 

The Trust cares for the five Shakespeare family homes and holds the world’s largest Shakespeare-related library, museum and archives that is open to the public, but it also has an extensive local history archive of Stratford-upon-Avon and south Warwickshire including records dating back to the 12th century. 

Follow the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on Twitter @ShakespeareBT and at facebook.com/ShakespeareBT 

COVENTRY

Coventry Transport Museum, Free admission for all on Sept  12 & Sept 13

The museum celebrates Coventry as the centre of the British car industry and the birthplace of the bicycle.

Herbert Museum and Art Gallery, Coventry – online tours from Sept 19

The gallery has prepared some online tours of the Coventry Archives and Undercroft.

FarGo Village, Coventry

Sgt Bilko’s Vintage Emporium and The Phil Silvers Museum , one of FarGo’s permanent shops, is taking part in the Heritage Open Days

Bagot’s Castle, Baginton nr Coventry, Sept 11, 12, 13, and 18, 19, 20

Built in 1380s by Sir William Bagot. Restoration works were completed to consolidate the remains of the ruin in 2012. Set in 19 acres of pastureland with picnic benches and children’s trails/activities. Time: 10am-4pm.

Coombe Abbey Country Park (parking charges apply) 

Explore 500 acres of beautiful gardens, woodland, lakeside walks and bird watching all set against the stunning Coombe Abbey, now a hotel. Self-guided trails will be available every day between 10am & 3.30p, from the visitor centre. The site is steeped in history dating back to 1150 when the Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks. The Craven family lived at Coombe in the 18th century creating the lake and sight lines of the deer park. The site was opened to the public in 1966.

Coventry Watch Museum in Spon St

Telling the story of Coventry’s clock and watch making history the museum on Medieval Spon Street is set in the three remaining 19th century cottages built in 1820. Five of the six rooms in the cottages will be open to the public. There’s also a WWII brick air raid shelter which adjoins the buildings  

Walking Tours & Historic Coventry Trust’s ‘Hard Hat’ tours

Swanswell Gate

Walking tours include a Coventry tour, Literary tour and Medieval tour starting from the Council House. Historic Coventry Trust has also organised fascinating Hard Hat’ tours in their buildings undergoing restoration work including Coventry’s finest Regency building Drapers Hall, Swanswell Gate, Charterhouse and the Anglican Chapel at London Rd Cemetery.

Charterhouse Pic Credit Charterhouse Trust, Historic Coventry

Virtual Tours

St Mary’s Guildhall (right)

St Mary’s Guildhall, The Herbert Undercroft, Coventry Archives and the Gurdwara Guru Nanek Prakash where you can learn more about a Gurdwara and it’s role in the city. On Fri Sept 11 1 you can watch a special live streaming event celebrating Dame Goodyver’s Day, a traditional feast day given by the Guild of Cappers and Felt Makers many centuries ago, and now celebrated by The Godiva Trust.

For information on all Coventry Heritage Open Days visit the city council’s website here.

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