BRINGING the past to the present, Heritage Open Days have become a national celebration of our history, architecture and culture.
Hugely popular in South Derbyshire, more and more people fall for their charms every year.
Run locally by volunteers, the event is an opportunity for private owners to allow free access to properties and events which cast a light on what makes neighbourhoods and communities so special. Properties that normally charge an entrance fee also take part by offering free access.
Heritage sites of every age, style and function open their doors. It is a once-a-year chance to uncover and discover hidden treasures and rarely told stories.
This year, in South Derbyshire, visitors will be spoiled for choice. Taking place from Thursday, September 12 until Sunday, September 15, eight properties and one walk will offer a diverse showcase of the district’s treasures.
Here is a snapshot of what you will see behind closed doors:
Calke Abbey, Ticknall
Thursday, September 12 – 10am to 5pm.
With peeling paintwork and overgrown courtyards, Calke Abbey tells the story of the dramatic decline of a country house estate. The early 18th century house and stables have been sparingly restored, with many abandoned areas vividly portraying a period in the 20th century when numerous country houses did not survive to tell their story.
St Peter and St Paul’s Catholic Church, Swadlincote
Thursday, September 12, Friday, September 13 and Saturday, September 14 – 10am to 4.30pm.
With a war shrine dating from 1850 and the church built in 1598, there is so much to explore here. Points of interest include the notable stained glass window, clay figures detailing the journey of Jesus and some intricate architecture.
A walk around Melbourne
Castle Square, Melbourne. Thursday, September 12 – 6.30pm.
Tour this historical town with Philip Heath, a local resident and the conservation and heritage officer at South Derbyshire District Council. The route goes via the Norman parish church, picturesque mill pool and the main streets and lanes. Booking is essential.
Friday, September 13 – tours at 9.30am, 11.30am and 2pm.
Adam Lathbury, manager of the conservation and design section at Derbyshire County Council, will lead three tours to explain the recent repairs to buildings in this outstanding Victorian garden. Half a million pounds has been spent to conserve the Moorish Temple and Terrace, Golden Gates and the walled garden. Booking is essential.
Sharpe’s Pottery Museum, Swadlincote
Friday, September 13 and Saturday, September 14 – 11am to 3pm.
Uncover the hidden secrets of the tourist attraction, which used to be a yellow ware and toilet factory exporting products worldwide. There will also be a special exhibition displaying previously unseen archive items from September 12 to 28.
St Andrew’s Church, Twyford
Saturday, September 14 – 10am to 4pm
View the local history display in this charming Grade I listed church, complete with Norman chancel arch and nave rebuilt in 1739. The exhibition will document the life of this small rural community throughout the ages.
Emmanuel Church, Swadlincote
Saturday, September 14 – 10am to 2pm.
A warm welcome to 165 years of history in this Grade II listed church, with space for prayer and quiet. There will also be a craft fair held from 10am to 3pm.
Sealwood Cottage, Linton
Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15.
Small and unusual country retreat built on the edge of a former wood by the Reverend Thomas Gresley of Netherseal, probably in 1774. Rescued from the brink of ruin, take the time to view the small cellar, attractive lobby and staircase, pointed gothic doors and a 1770s pull-out bed! Tours of the adjacent vineyard are also on offer.
Hartshorne Upper Hall, 10 Main Street, Hartshorne
Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15 – opens 1.30pm (last admission 5pm).
Come and see this timber framed manor house of the 1620s, with decorative framing, two storey porch, cellars and ovens. Introductory talks at 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm, but visitors are welcome to arrive at any time.
Philip Heath, South Derbyshire District Council’s heritage and conservation officer, said: “It is a pleasure to work with the organisations and private owners who have such enthusiasm to share these wonderful places with the public over a few precious days. Heritage Open Days remind us that the attractions which open more generally are just the tip of the iceberg, and gives a clue to the immense depth and breadth of our district’s rich heritage.“
If you are planning to visit any of the sites, additional details are available at www.heritageopendays.org.uk. Alternatively, telephone Swadlincote Tourist Information Centre on 01283 222848.