Unique Heritage, Community and History

31st August 2023

Heritage Open Days this September at your Cathedrals.

Summer is almost over and our cathedrals are looking forward to showcasing their unique heritage, community and history when Heritage Open Days (HODs) returns this September.

Cathedrals get ready to showcase their unique heritage, community and history this September

Visitors will have the opportunity to discover something new including Bradford Cathedral’s William Morris windows, going behind the scenes at Gloucester’s stonemasons’ yard, tower tours at Carlisle Cathedral, Chester’s hidden Tudor history and Sheffield’s designers and silversmiths.

This year the theme of Heritage Open Days (HODs) is Creativity Unwrapped and organisers want to share England’s colourful history of creativity. The festival will celebrate the experts and enthusiastic amateurs whose passions and skills add something special to our daily lives.

And all our cathedrals will be offering something new to discover over the HODs weekend from September from 8-17th with free events and experiences.

Find your nearest Cathedral here.

Bradford Cathedral is celebrating the early stained glass of Morris & Co – to mark the 160th anniversary since the first stained glass window was installed in the cathedral – with special tours, a talk by Helen Elletson, research curator at the William Morris Society, and children’s crafts and activities.

The famous Victorian artist and designer William Morris founded Morris & Co. and, along with renowned artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown, Philip Webb, Albert Moore, and Peter Paul Marshall, created many pieces of stained glass, some of which are on display in Bradford Cathedral. Morris & Co. also produced religious textiles of which an example is on display in Bradford’s Lady Chapel.

Heritage Open Days - Bradford Cathedral

In addition, there will be presentations, display boards and videos highlighting close-ups of our stained glass windows. There will also be booklets available with more information.

To find out more about the free Bradford Cathedral Heritage Open Days event, and to book your places on the tour or talk, please click here.

Gloucester Cathedral is offering visitors a rare glimpse of some of the highlights of its Medieval Library,  chosen specially by its volunteers. There’s a chance to enjoy stone carving demonstrations and find out more about the Works Team and what they do to conserve and restore the cathedral.

There are guided tours where visitors can go down into the crypt, find out about the monks who lived there, visit the tomb of murdered King Edward II and see where Harry Potter was filmed.

More here.

Carlisle Cathedral is offering special Prior’s Tower Tours for Heritage Open Days while Sheffield Cathedral has tours to showcase its designer makers and silversmiths represented within the fabric of the cathedral.

Sheffield for many is the Steel City and this hour-long tour focuses on metalwork contained within the cathedral’s fabric and the stories these objects tell about the city’s past and present.

Chester Cathedral will explore the infamous Tudors and unravel the hidden Tudor stories in the city.  There will be a range of activities taking place across the Cathedral site, including archery workshops, late-medieval and Tudor objects on display, live demonstrations of heritage skills, music-making, family activities, tours, and worship.

And visitors will be able to access parts of the Cathedral not normally open to the public in this once-a-year event, with objects on display in the Cathedral rarely able to be displayed to the public.

The Cathedral’s will be joined by nearby Grosvenor Museum which will be showcasing objects and dressing up and Sick to Death’s eye-catching Plague Doctor will demonstrate how to make your own pomander.

There’s a lecture series ahead of the Tudor event exploring all aspects of Tudor life and highlighting the lived experience of our fifteenth- and sixteenth-century counterparts.

The day will round off with a special Tudor music-focussed Evensong sung by the Cathedral Choir which will be followed by an organ recital in the Lady Chapel featuring some of the virtuosic organ pieces by William Byrd to mark his anniversary this year.

The Very Revd Dr Tim Stratford, Dean of Chester, said:

“We are thrilled to be able to bring this event back to Chester Cathedral for the third time. It is a unique opportunity to see and learn about our Tudor history and talk to our in-house heritage professionals who care for and interpret the Cathedral for us today.  The Heritage Discovery Day is a fantastic way to kick off the weekend and immerse yourself in Chester’s engaging Tudor history.” 

Free tickets for the day and paid tickets for specific activities can be booked here.

Heritage Open Days is a ten-day event starting on 8 September. It is a National Trust initiative, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and run by thousands of local organisations and volunteers to bring people together to showcase our rich heritage, history and culture.