Dozens of historic buildings across Shropshire are opening their doors free of charge this weekend to celebrate Heritage Open Days.
The annual event, from September 12-15, shines a spotlight on those who have played a role in our heritage: artists and architects, diarists and journalists, miners, monarchs, and explorers.
This year’s celebration is an opportunity to discover the people who made history in your part of the country, and create your own piece of history at England’s biggest, free heritage festival. Many buildings normally closed to the public are taking part, revealing their secrets, or holding special events and festivals.
Check out our gallery at some of the places across Shropshire that will be opening their doors this weekend:
“Last year’s Heritage Open Days was the biggest ever event with over 4,500 properties taking part,” says Loyd Grossman, patron of Heritage Open Days.
“In 2013 we’re building on that success, with hundreds of secret places to discover and new tales to be told.”
More than 50 historic Shropshire properties are taking part in Heritage Open Days this year. They include:
The White House, Aston Munslow: This dates back to the 13th century; the tops of the great cruck trusses of the original hall can be seen in the roof space. Below this are rooms of Tudor and Jacobean date. After a fire in 1780, a new drawing-room was added. Open tomorrow and Sunday, 10am to 4pm.
Benthall Hall, near Broseley: Within this fine stone house you can discover the history of the Benthall family from the Saxon period to present day. Outside, the garden boasts a beautiful Restoration church, a restored plantsman’s garden with fabulous crocus displays in the spring and autumn. Open tomorrow, 12.30pm to 5pm.
Silvester Horne Institute, Church Stretton: The property was built in honour of Charles Silvester Horne (1865–1914), a famous late 19th century and early 20th-century Congregationalist minister, who additionally served as a Liberal MP. He was also the father of the humorous broadcaster, Kenneth Horn. There will be an exhibition ‘Church Stretton Old and New’ of the town’s historic buildings and railway, light refreshments and local history tours tomorrow.
Ellesmere Canal Yard: The yard, on the Llangollen Canal, is a very well preserved example of a canal maintenance yard dating from the early 1800s. There is a range of buildings including a blacksmith’s and joiner’s shop, dry dock, a yard manager’s house and Beech House, the former head offices of the Ellesmere Canal Company. The site is still in use today, the operating base for the Canal & River Trust’s team that looks after the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals. Visitors will be able to see inside some of the buildings and tours of the site will be available. A water-taxi service will be running from Ellesmere along the canal to the yard. Open from 10am to 3pm tomorrow, and 11am to 3pm on Sunday.
11 Corve Street, Ludlow: This historic building houses a small collection of items, which originated from nearby Downton Castle. Tours for groups of up to five people are being arranged on Sunday, at 11am and 3pm.
Christ Church, Castle View, Oswestry: There will be displays of church records and a special show of material related to Walford Davies, Master of the King’s Music in the 1930s. Open tomorrow, from 10am to 4pm.
Llanymynech Limeworks: With one of only three remaining Hoffmann Kilns in the country, this is a nationally significant industrial heritage area – part of the ‘Limeworks’ landscape, with rock extraction and early kilns on the high cliffs of Llanymynech Rocks, and inclined planes down to the later kilns and the transporting of the finished lime via the Montgomery Canal and Railway. There will be guided tours, talks on the uses of lime by Harriet Devlin of Ironbridge Institute, lime burning in the demonstration kiln, storytelling and free half-hour boat trips on the canal aboard the trip boat ‘George Watson Buck’ from the Llanymynech Wharf Visitor Centre, and a pop-up cinema in the Hoffmann Kiln showing “The Chaplin Revue”, scored by Charlie Chaplin in 1959. Open Sunday, from midday to 4pm, with film shown at 4.30pm.
Llanyblodwel Church: A brief history will be told of the church with medieval origins which somehow survived the wars that raged between the Welsh princes and English armies until the end of the 11th century. The architecture bears testament to several significant restorations culminating in its most ambitious and elaborate enlargement carried out by Reverend John Parker in the early 19th century. There will be a church trail quiz for children – search for clues amongst the monuments, inscriptions and secret places. Open Sunday, from 10am to 4pm.
Nant Mawr Visitor Centre, Tanat Valley Light Railway: The centre aims to provide an inexpensive day out for families, tourists and local visitors. It includes a railway restoration project with approximately 15 acres of adjoining land being developed as a visitor centre with woodland walks, railway rides, nature trail, picnic areas, museum, outdoor stage, land art project and reputedly the highest lime kilns in the UK. Children, family and disabled friendly. Open tomorrow and Sunday, 10am to 4pm.
St Chad’s Church, Shrewsbury: Hear the beautiful, traditional service of choral evensong sung by the church choir in the historic setting of St Chad’s church. This service is being held especially for the Heritage Open Weekend, tomorrow at 5pm.
Drapers’ Hall, Shrewsbury: An Elizabethan guildhall built in the 1570s for Shrewsbury Drapers’ Company, the leading town guild. It is Grade II listed and oak framed with distinctive external carvings, in the Shrewsbury style of carpentry. On Saturday, there will be a talk by our archivist and past master James Lawson, followed by open afternoon.
Snailbeach Lead Mine: A chance to see inside the mine, near Minsterley, where there is a visitor centre with mining and social history display, and working Blacksmith’s shop. There will be guided walks, self-guide leaflet and underground trips into old lead mine workings (extra charge). Refreshments and displays in village hall. Countryside walks and underground trips (no children under five admitted). Open tomorrow and Sunday, 11am to 4pm.
The Temple, Badger Dingle: A classical folly in the countryside between Telford and Bridgnorth, attributed to James Wyatt, overlooking the spectacular picturesque landscape of Badger Dingle. Open tomorrow and Sunday, 10.30am to 3.30pm.
Sunnycroft, Wellington: This substantial red-brick villa is typical of the many thousands that were built for the prosperous middle classes in the late Victorian period. Sunnycroft is one of the very few to have survived, with a mini estate and largely unaltered contents and decoration. As part of Heritage Open Day, tomorrow staff are pulling out all the stops and putting on displays of the collection not normally seen by visitors. Free trail around the house, spotting items in the rooms.
JB Joyce & Company, Whitchurch: An opportunity to look round the 1904 purpose-built premises and to see a display of photographs relating to Joyce’s clocks, which are all over the world, and examples of clock mechanisms. Open tomorrow from 11am to 3pm.
Bridgnorth Works of Art: A collection of pictures which are primarily portraits of family members will be displayed in the town. Tour at 3pm on Sunday.
l For timings and booking details visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk