Heritage Open Days, England’s largest festival of history and culture, returns this month offering residents and visitors the chance will to explore venues for free.
Some events will explore this year’s theme, Edible England, offering opportunities to learn about food production, celebrate local specialities and uncover the customs and quirks around what we eat and drink.
In Thanet look out for themed events of wartime cooking at Ramsgate Tunnels, Spencer Square’s ‘Van Gogh Potatoes & Herbs’ and Monkton Nature Reserve teaching outdoor cooking.
Sarah Holloway, Programme Manager for Heritage Open Days, said: “We’re all interested in where we live but we don’t necessarily know the stories behind the buildings and spaces we walk past each day. Our event organisers keep finding creative ways to tell these tales and keep them alive.
“HODs connects people through shared experiences and this year, that feels more important than ever. It’s also one of the reasons we chose Edible England as our theme. Food brings people together and what we eat and drink is at the heart of much of our culture, our history, our communities, and our daily lives.”
Heritage Open Days is coordinated and promoted nationally by the National Trust with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Every single Heritage Open Days event is free, including access to many sites that usually charge for admission.
Cliftonville Cultural Space (The Shul)
Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September 11am – 4pm and Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th September 11am – 4pm
A chance to visit the former Margate synagogue (Shul). Find out how The Cliftonville Cultural Space are creating an inclusive, cross-cultural, multi-arts space reflecting the diverse communities of the area whilst retaining the building’s heritage
The Margate Synagogue (Shul) was built in 1929 and has been deconsecrated since its last use in 2017. It has been an important part of the community and is an example of a building of cultural heritage and significance to the history of the local area. The Cliftonville Cultural Space was formed to save the building from auction and to work towards the vision of seeing the building become a place to bring people together once more. Since 2017 the building has been closed and this will be an opportunity for us to welcome the community in and for them to have a tour of the building at the early stage of this exciting development.
Albion Road, Cliftonville
The Grange and St Edward’s Presbytery, Ramsgate
September 11-12 and September 18-19, Open 10am – 4pm. Visits must be pre-booked
A rare chance to see inside St Edward’s Presbytery, built by A. W. Pugin, designer of the Palace of Westminster, in 1850 as part of this great architect’s original conception for this exceptional Gothic Revival site on Ramsgate’s West Cliff.
The Presbytery has much restrained Pugin detailing to admire, although this simple house was not given the rich interiors of The Grange. It housed priests for only a few years. In the 1860s, Pugin’s son Edward, also a renowned architect who designed St Augustine’s monastery, added a well-lit studio overlooking the courtyard of The Grange for his own architectural practice. Pugins lived here until 1928, when the Presbytery became part of the monks’ school.
The Landmark Trust acquired the Presbytery, left at risk when the monks moved away, to protect this remarkable Gothic Revival site and enable smaller parties the chance to experience it, and lively Ramsgate too. Today it is normally let for holidays.
The Grange, next door to the Presbytery, will also be open for free over the weekends.
The Grange was built by Augustus Pugin in 1845 and remained in the family until 1928. The building reflects Pugin’s belief in the Gothic style as the only true Christian architecture and his ideal to live out his life according to principles of the Middle Ages. Pugin produced some of his finest work at The Grange including designs for the House of Lords.
Entry is free but tickets must be pre-booked www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/the-landmark-trust-10429116340
Information sheets and children’s activity packs will be available.
St Edward’s Presbytery and The Grange, St. Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate
Theatre Royal Margate
September 11, 10am-4pm
To celebrate being back in the theatre, School of Acting are going to take over the Theatre Royal Margate as part of the Grade II* listed building’s participation in Heritage Open Day 2021.
The young members of Theatre Royal Margate and Looping the Loop’s “School of Acting” will be devising a day of fun activities for members of the public to enjoy for Heritage Open Day. All decisions will be made by the young people with support from a team of experts.
Theatre Royal Margate is the UK’s second oldest theatre and birthday of Britain’s first theatre school – set up by legendary actor and actor manager Sarah Thorne in 1885, also named ‘School of Acting.’
Theatre Royal Margate, Addington Street, Margate
St Peter’s From the Footpath (village tour)
September 11, 2pm
A combination tour of the three churchyard tours (Churchyard Tour, WWI and WWII Graves Tour)
Visitors will be taken on a guided walk around this unusual nine acre Churchyard.
Especially suitable for wheelchairs users and those who prefer an even walking surface
St Peter’s Parish Church, Hopeville Avenue
Free with pre-booking required
Palace Cinema Broadstairs
September 17-18, both days open 11am – 2pm with talks at 11.15am and 1.15pm. Talks must be pre-booked
See inside Broadstairs’ lovely old Grade II listed cinema! Take a quick look around or book in advance for a short talk on local cinema history. In 2021 we have an additional special focus on popcorn & the history of cinema snacks!
The Palace’s two Heritage Open Days offer free access to the foyer and auditorium. We welcome visitors to arrive at any time to explore at their own pace (a short wait may be necessary depending on numbers) or to book in advance by email for 30min illustrated talks on the history of the Palace and other former cinemas in Broadstairs. We also offer free history trail fact-finding and colouring sheets for children and a delicious introduction to popcorn and the history of cinema snacks, noisy and otherwise!
The Palace Cinema is a small independent cinema with 111 seats over stalls and a balcony. It was originally a 3-storey commercial building, bought by a historian who in 1911 had the middle floors taken out for it to become ‘York Gate Hall’ to house his collection of armour. Soon after it was sold to the Town Council which for 50 years used it to store beach equipment and leased it out for puppet and film shows.
In 1965 the windows were boarded up and the 155-seat ‘Windsor Cinema’ was born! It has changed hands 3 times since then: the owners in 2006 installed digital projection, surround sound and large screen, and re-named it the ‘Palace’. It is currently open 4 days a week welcoming visitors and locals to a wide variety of films from the latest releases to silent classics with live piano, from family shows in school holidays to special events for the local community. The Palace is independently owned, programmed and run.
Harbour Street, Broadstairs
September 18-19, both days open 10am – 4pm
As part of the Edible England Heritage Open Day theme, Ramsgate Tunnels will be holding free wartime cookery demonstrations throughout the weekend of the 18th and 19th September.
With a shortage of food supplies and rationing in force, the wartime housewife had to be creative with her cookery. Visit our wartime cookery display and watch a 1940’s housewife demonstrating how to cook with rationed and sometimes unexpected, substitute ingredients. Mock Goose, emergency ‘cream’ or SPAM anyone?
There is no need to book for the cookery demonstrations and display, which will operate free of charge throughout the day. Admission to the Tunnel displays and Home Front museum is also free.
There will be other free activities taking place throughout the weekend, so please check our website for further details nearer the time.
Please note: tours of the Tunnels will operate as normal and tickets prices are £8 for Adults, £6 for Seniors and £5 for children. A family ticket for two children and two adults is £22. Please check our website for tour timings and availability and make sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Ramsgate Tunnels, Ramsgate Esplanade,
September 19, Open 10am – 4pm with Tours 11am, 12pm and 2pm.
Quex Gardens and The Powell-Cotton Museum, Past, Present and Future
The Powell Cotton Museum and gardens are undergoing significant change. Join us for a completely free open day and speak to our team to find out more about how they are working towards a more inclusive future for our audiences.
The day will include full access to Quex House & Gardens and The Powell-Cotton Museum.
Tours will be available throughout the day for us to introduce you to the work we have been undertaking during our ‘Reimagining’ programme.
11am: Join Rachel Jennings, Natural History Curator, on a natural history dioramas tour and learn how her major project ‘Colonial Critters’ aims to re-interpret the collection to share more interesting, accurate and inclusive stories.
12noon: Head Gardener Sue will be on hand to talk about ‘The Sunshine Project’ which is making space for our learning disabled community and disadvantaged community groups in need of a quiet, natural space to enjoy and volunteer in.
2pm: Inbal Livne, Head of Collections and Engagement, will introduce our Ethiopian collection to you. Often overlooked but incredibly significant, this project seeks to re-interpret with truth and dignity for a sensitive topic regarding the ethics of collecting.
Also throughout the day:
See the weirdly wonderful and unique tomato grading machine!
Meet Dan the bee man who will introduce you to his hives of bees, new to Quex Gardens and part of our future planning for garden biodiversity
Discover the woodland and walled kitchen garden
Join us for ‘object conversations’ in the museum galleries
If you would like to have lunch at Felicity’s cafe on-site, please ensure you book in advance.
Powell-Cotton Museum, Quex Park, Park Lane, Birchington
Spencer Square Ramsgate
September 19, open 12-3pm
Spencer Square Presents ‘Van Gogh Potatoes & Herbs
Friends of Spencer Square will serve up potatoes roasted with herbs all grown in the gardens in honour of our former resident, Vincent Van Gogh.
In honour of our former Spencer Square resident, Vincent Van Gogh, we’ve planted sunflowers, potatoes and herbs as an homage to his painting ‘The Potato Eaters’ and the Edible England theme of Heritage Open Days.
Visitors will be able to walk around the beautiful Georgian Square, look at the bust of Vincent Van Gogh created and donated to us by artist Anthony Padgett, and see his former home at #11 Spencer Square.
The voluntary group, Friends of Spencer Square who maintain the garden, will roast the potatoes that they’ve grown over the year with rosemary and thyme and these will be available for visitors to eat as they wander around the garden.
If possible (given Covid-19 concerns) the owner of #11 will open her home so visitors to allow them to visit the top back bedroom where he once lived. If not possible we hope to film a tour of the house and put it online via our Facebook page. We are also planning some Van Gogh children’s art activities.
Crampton Tower Museum
Crampton Tower, The Broadway, Broadstairs,
Thomas Crampton was a leading 19th-century civil engineer and Broadstairs resident. He designed the first standardised locomotive (‘Firefly’) for Great Western Railway. The Museum houses several working railway layouts with interactive buttons.
There will be a display of Victorian clothing in the Hall and it is possible that Queen Victoria will attend on both dates and a knighthood could be awarded by Her Majesty!
Saturday 18 September: 14:00 – 16:30 (last admission 4.00)
Sunday 19 September: 10:00 – 16:00
No booking required
Draper’s Windmill Margate
Drapers Windmill, St. Peters Footpath, Margate,
Discover the Draper’s Windmill, a restored 19c smock mill, recently returned to grinding by the wind.
Discover and learn about this wonderful Draper’s Windmill that will, depending on wind conditions, will be ground by the wind!
Join us on Bookable tours of all floors of the mill, which will be available subject to operational precautions, or enjoy an informative film, CCTV of upper floors, a museum on the lower floor – accessible by 6 easy steps, and also see our 100yr old Crossley gas engine.
Sunday 12 September: 12:00 – 16:00
Sunday 19 September: 12:00 – 16:00
Monkton Nature Reserve
Monkton Nature Reserve, Canterbury Road, Monkton, Ramsgate
Thanet’s premier inland nature reserve and home of Thanet Observatories. The reserve contains 16 acres of diverse wildlife habitats with two wildlife ponds, many plant and animal species, and a variety of new adventure trails.
Monkton Nature Reserve occupies a former chalk quarry that has been reclaimed by nature. It is home to many plant and animal species and contains some stunning scenery.
The reserve has a range of fun trails for families to enjoy. Search the reserve for beautiful sculptures of our native wildlife or go on the hunt for dinosaurs and fossils! With brand new educational signage around the site, you can learn about British wildlife whilst you enjoy its serenity.
Following the theme of this year’s Heritage Open Days, Edible England, we will be running a session of outdoor cooking with Wild Classroom. On Wednesday 15th September at 18:30, the team from Wild Classroom will teach you how to make delicious food outdoors, using ancient techniques and modern culinary knowledge. Ingredients will be sourced locally where possible.
Saturday 11 September: 10:30 – 14:30
Wednesday 15 September: Outdoor cooking with Wild Classroom team:18:30
Booking is essential for the outdoor cooking session and places are limited. To book, email us and use “HOD” in your email subject line.
Ellington Park Ramsgate
September 17-19, Open 10am-4.30pm
Ellington Park from the 11th Century to the 21st Century
Visit the redesigned park and new cafe completed this year.
Find out about the history of Ellington Park and St Lawrence parish covering 10 centuries.
Have your children photographed in various period costumes, and try writing with a quill pen! A fun and informative day for the whole
The park and café is fully accessible with toilets suitable for disabled visitors. Baby changing facilities available. On street parking limited
Birchington Heritage Trust
Saturday 11th and Saturday 18th September, 9.30am-12.30pm
An extensive display of village heritage with many vintage photographs.
An extensive local history research resource with 150 files available
7 Alpha Road
Margate Museum with the Tudor House
Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th and Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th September, 11am-3pm
Come and see 2,500 plus years of the history of “Meregate”
Also included are specific displays covering the history of “Dreamland”, Paddle Steamers and Holy Trinity Church in Cliftonville.
If you saw the recent TV programme about the Hippodrome murderer you don’t want to miss our Police in Margate display. Fancy being locked in a circa 1858 Police cell?
Visit the 500 year old Tudor House and see the ancient timber beams supporting the walls and ceilings
St Laurence Church Ramsgate
September 11 and 18
Church tour at 2pm followed by ‘Forest Church’ service in the churchyard. Parish Hall open 10am – 3pm for refreshments and an exhibition of the history of the church
St Laurence is a Grade 1 Listed church – the oldest building in Ramsgate, tracing its history back to 1062. The architecture is a mix of Norman, Early English and Victorian.
The churchyard covers 3.5 acres with many monuments commemorating famous people, including royalty. Nowadays the churchyard is dedicated to wildlife and nature
St Laurence Church
Spitfire and Hurricane Museum Manston
September 13-19, open 10am – 4pm
The Museum commemorates those who served in defence of this country in WWII through displaying the aircraft and objects they used as well as telling their stories. Central to the display are the iconic Spitfire Mk XVI and Hurricane Mk II.
As an optional extra, visitors can even experience what it is like to fly the famous fighter. Take control of the iconic aircraft with a 10-minute simulated Spitfire flight from London City Airport to Heathrow, with the opportunity to try some aerobatics en route! There is a charge for the simulator sessions. Flights will be sold on a first-come-first- served walk-in basis for this week only.
Large car park, café on site and accessible toilets.
The Memorial Museum
Italianate Glasshouse Ramsgate
Saturday 11th, Sunday 12th, Wednesday 15th – Sunday 19th September
The Italianate Glasshouse, a Grade II* Listed historic monument, was erected in the grounds of East Cliff Lodge, Sir Moses Montefiore’s 22 acre estate in 1832.
This delightful glasshouse was renovated in 2005 and is home to a tearoom.
George VI Memorial Park
Open Saturday 11th and Wednesday 15th 10am -3pm
As part of Edible England view the medieval fishponds which provided valuable protein for the monastic orders. Wander the beautiful flower gardens and visit an exhibition and DVD in the Old Barn about the life of the monastery from 670AD to the present day.
The only surviving pre-Reformation monastery in the Country still to be in current use as a Religious house.
Toilets and the nearest accessible parking is on the Abbey’s driveway, close to the entrance.
St George the Martyr Church Ramsgate
September 11, Church open 10am-3pm with tower tours at 12pm and 3pm
View the Lantern Tower, Dunkirk Memorial Window and Henry Weigall Mural in this Grade 1 Listed church.
Tower Tours (weather permitting; not suitable for Under 8s and children 8 years and older to be accompanied by an adult)
Limited access and on-street parking
St George the Martyr Church
Church Hill, Ramsgate
Ramsgate Maritime Museum
September 11, Open 11am- 4pm
At the centre of the UK’s only Royal Harbour, the Maritime Museum explores the fascinating maritime history of Ramsgate.
The Museum is situated within the Grade II* listed Clock House – an exhibit in its own right – built in 1817 to the design of Benjamin Wyatt and George Louch. The Clock House is also the site of the unique Ramsgate Meridian, from which our own particular Mean Time, 5 mins 41 secs ahead of Greenwich, was calculated.
There are four galleries of displays and exhibits telling the maritime history of the area – the Harbour, Navigation, Fishing, Lifeboats and Shipwrecks.
Access is limited around the museum due to the historic nature of the building. Toilet facilities and parking nearby
Ramsgate Maritime Museum
Ramsgate Heritage Walking Tour
September 18, 6pm Meet at Lookout Cafe on West Cliff Promenade
Duration of walk 1.5 hours with pre-booking required.
Blue Badge guide, Sandra Silva, will conduct an easy paced walk on the fascinating history of Ramsgate.
Sandra is available throughout the week for her usual charged walks.
Meet at Lookout Cafe
West Cliff Promenade
Hornby Visitor Centre Margate
September 19, open 10am-4pm
The Centre includes fascinating displays featuring rare vintage products from the Scalextric, Airfix and Corgi archives.
You can track the history of iconic model trains and the development of the legendary slot-car racing system together with Airfix models and much else.
Full facilities including shop, cafeteria, disabled access and parking
Hornby Hobbies Ltd
Montefiore Synagogue Ramsgate
September 19, open 10am-3pm
A chance to see inside the synagogue built by Sir Moses Montefiore in 1833. The nearby Mausoleum contains the tombs of Sir Moses and Lady Judith Montefiore. The Synagogue was designed by David Mocatta and was the first synagogue to be built in England by a Jewish architect.
Access is limited due to the historic nature of the buildings.
Access to buildings via woodland path.
Montefiore Synagogue Interior. The Montefiore Endowment.
Rotten Ramsgate Walk
September 19, 10am meeting at The Obelisk, Harbour Parade
Pre-booking required and walk duration 1.5 hours.
Guided walk covering historical murders from Ramsgate harbour to The Grange.
Toilet and parking nearby.
Meet at The Obelisk
Prehistory Pop Up Birchington
September 18-19, Open 10am-4pm
Prehistoric Weekend with Thanet Prehistory Pop Up Museum
Free Pop up museum and optional paid workshops can be booked from the website.
Thanet’s local archaeologists are hosting a display of ancient artefacts and hands-on finds handling activities that tell the story of Thanet from the old Stone Age to the Iron Age.
In addition, optional hands-on expert hosted workshops on stone age flint knapping, foraging and food preparation skills are available for a fee.
Flint knapping instruction with Will Lord at 9.30am, 11am and 1.30pm £45
Foraging from the Carcass, bushcraft demonstration with Will Lord 4.30-8pm (Saturday only) £35
Free tea and coffee.
Fully accessible, on-site parking , cafe options, picnic area,
The Antoinette Centre, Quex Park, Birchington
Northdown Park Heritage Tree Walk
September 18, 2pm-4pm meeting on the lawn next to Northdown House north front
Pre booking required at email@example.com
Find out about the history of Northdown Park, see some notable trees and learn about their history and ecological value, learn how to identify various tree species.
Hear about the park’s past, present and future.
The walk is led by Andrew Nolan in association with Kent Tree And Pond Wardens Partnership.
Meeting on the lawn next to Northdown House north front
Northdown Park, Queen Elizabeth Avenue, Cliftonville
Murky Margate Walk
September 18, Meet at 10am outside main entrance of Margate Winter Gardens
Walk duration 90 mins with pre-booking required.
Margate walking tour from the Winter Gardens, through the Old Town to the Theatre Royal revealing tragic tales of death and murder.
Meet by Margate Winter Gardens
Ramsgate Costumed Walk
September 19. Walk at 3pm for 1 hr 30 minutes
Meet outside the Ramsgate Maritime Museum, Pier Yard, Ramsgate
A guided walk around Ramsgate Harbour identifying buildings of interest.
You will be introduced to various characters from history who will explain their connection to the area.
You will see Smeaton’s famous dry dock, learn of the vast fishing industry in Ramsgate in the 19th and early 20th centuries and hear of the miraculous evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk in 1940.
Meet outside Ramsgate Maritime Museum
Find venues taking part and details at https://www.visitthanet.co.uk/whats-on/heritage-open-days/