Heritage Open Days of 2014 this Weekend!

Like last year, many heritage attractions are free to explore, usually for longer opening times with possible special exhibitions and access to places usually closed to the public all weekend for the Heritage Open Days! It is a special annual weekend supported by English Heritage since 1994 and you can visit the Heritage Open Days official website. This year it runs from Thursday 11th – Sunday 14th September. logos

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Ely Cathedral above the market. Source: Pete Johnstone

With open nights on Friday evening, open tours on Saturday and open houses on the Sunday, an interesting Ely Heritage Weekend is coming up! On Friday evening, you can experience Oliver Cromwell’s House, Ely Cathedral, The Stained Glass Museum and Ely Museum at the unusual hours of after closing time. The Saturday has lots more things going on! Bookings for places are advisable as they are different and enjoyable guided tours around Ely, in the Courthouse, the 15th century Old Palace and the West Tower in Ely Cathedral. The Ely Museum also has a guided tour alongside many activities. On the Sunday, Ely opens its 14th and 16th century houses at 7 & 9 Silver Street, Ely’s Old Porta entrance and the 14th century chapel that are rarely opened to the public. Additionally, a tour around St Peter’s Church and riverside walk with the Environment Agency and Cambridgeshire ACRE is on. Pre-booking is essential with all of Sunday activities.

The Chatteris Library is showing photographs of how the buildings in Chatteris changed over time.

March offers around 20 events and activities this year including a trip with a local historian to learn about the town’s influential Gray family, a gentle walk on architectural details of the buildings along Station Road, a walk seeing the railway and water voles, children’s activities and a toys exhibition at March and District Museum – see The March Society website.

Heritage Open Days in Fenland poster. Source: The March Society

Fenland Heritage Open Days booklet front cover. Source: The March Society.

The Capital of the Fens – Wisbech – have many things open and to see for the weekend. A wide range of buildings are open such as Wisbech Castle, Masonic Lodges and Council Chambers, which has displays of furniture, historical styles and various artefacts to view and learn from. The other venues open from the public ranged from a theatre – the Angles Theatre – to all the National Trust properties, including the one usually closed to the public. A guided tour and apple tasting at The Orchard and the various churches and museums in Wisbech with their individual features, characters and various kinds of history exhibited through talks to demonstrations will be specially available for the public this Heritage Open Days weekend too. Of particular interest, “Vivian” the fire engine that served Wisbech in the 1930s to the 1960s is on display.

The Fenland Heritage Open Days booklet that cover the rest of Fenland for can be consulted for further information.

The Ramsey Rural Museum is open on the Sunday and there will be a great range of ways to discover Ramsay‘s heritage including a Great Fen exhibition trailer and learning about the two world wars.

St Ives opens a number of their religious and town buildings for most of the weekend, including a mosque that opens on the Sunday and exhibitions in the Corn Exchange, while Holt Island Nature Reserve is open all weekend with a basket weaving display. The flyer can be downloaded here.

In Houghton, National Trust’s Houghton Mill is free and themed Victorian with costumed actors and available toys for children to play with, and the Mill will work to produce flour.

Have a great one!

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Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership successful in first stage bid to HLF

Cambridgeshire ACRE has received an earmarked first-round pass of £995,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through its Landscape Partnership (LP) programme for the Ouse Washes area, it was announced today. The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership aims to work with a wide range of partners to improve community interaction and participation to maintain the areas inherent beauty, natural and built heritage assets and international importance so that it is safeguarded for the future.

Development funding of £90,500 is included in this amount to help Cambridgeshire ACRE progress their plans to apply for the full grant at a later date.

The Landscape Partnership will undertake conservation work on the assets of the area; tell the story of the history of the landscape and how it has been managed; encourage local people to get involved in managing the area today; encourage visitors and local people to learn about and appreciate the landscape; and improve the skills of local people by providing volunteering opportunities and work placements.

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership area stretches 48.5km between Fen Drayton Lakes and Downham Market. The main features include the Old and the New Bedford Rivers, and the area of wet grassland 20 miles (32 km) long between them. This washland is internationally important for the large populations of birds which feed on it in winter. The area includes the well-established Welney and Ouse Fen nature reserves, and newer reserves such as Fen Drayton Lakes. The rural communities within the area have a rich archaeological and industrial heritage. The history associated with the land drainage: riots, disputes, disasters and engineering successes are unique to this area.

Kirsten Bennett from Cambridgeshire ACRE said:

We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. The Ouse Washes may not be ‘pretty’ in a picture-postcard sense but they have a unique charm of their own. Their cultural and built heritage needs to be celebrated and understood, both by those who live and work here and those who come to visit the area. This funding will allow us to work with local people and organisations to make this happen. As the Rural Community Council for Cambridgeshire, we feel privileged to be leading the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership.

Explaining the importance of HLF’s support, Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said:

The Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership is designed to help protect and celebrate a wonderful and distinctive part of East Anglia. This landscape is very much shaped by water flow – sometimes not enough and at the moment a little too much! With the Heritage Lottery Fund’s initial support the scheme can start developing work to promote the area as a tourist destination whilst also encouraging local communities to learn more about its history and how best to conserve and manage it for the future.