More than 30 historic buildings, churches and venues across Northampton will be open to the public for free next week as part of the national Heritage Open Days event.
The four-day event, coordinated locally by Northampton Borough Council and run by volunteers, offers a once-a-year opportunity to explore some of the town’s unique historic buildings, many of which are usually restricted or charge for entry.
The 16th century Hazelrigg House, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 78 Derngate, the ancient round Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Guildhall 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.
Other highlights of the four-day programme between Thursday, September 6 and Sunday, September 9, include guided tours of the Victorian Royal & Derngate theatre, the grade II* listed Northampton and County Club and the Medieval Northampton Castle site, plus a chance to visit the 12th century St Peter’s Church in Mare Fair, and an exclusive brewing day at the Phipps NBC Albion Brewery.
Activities will be on offer at the National Leather Collection, which boasts the world’s most diverse collection of leather items and the Northamptonshire Natural History Society, which contains a wealth of information on subjects including botany, meteorology and zoology.
Many venues and churches beyond the town centre will also be open, including the Church of St John the Baptist in Kingsthorpe Village, the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Abington Park, the Hunsbury Hill Centre and the grade I listed Upton Hall.
There will also be live entertainment on the Market Square provided by the Northampton Town Centre BID, a heritage fair at Abington Park Museum and free boat trips on the Grand Union Canal at Blisworth.
Many participating venues will be linked up by a heritage bus service, so visitors can enjoy a free ride on a classic bus, which will depart from George Row in the town centre.
Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “Heritage Open Days are a chance to visit and explore some of Northampton’s finest and most recognisable buildings and a great opportunity to learn more about the wonderful history, culture, architecture we have in and around our town.
“Knowledgeable and dedicated volunteers will be on hand at each venue to really bring your visit to life and Northampton Transport Heritage will once again provide their heritage bus service to transport visitors between venues.”
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 is available to download here.
Further details about each venue can also be found on the Heritage Open Days website: www.heritageopendays.org.uk