7 of the best Heritage Open Days in Kent

Whitstable is a small fishing port and holiday resort on the Kent coast

From Whistable's Oyster heritage to wartime cooking demonstrations at Ramsgate Tunnels, there's so much history and culture to discover with Kent's Heritage Open Days this September - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

England’s largest festival of history and culture, Heritage Open Days will return this year from the 10th - ­19th September. So get ready to explore a wealth of buildings and places across the county ­including ones that aren’t usually open to the public.

“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,” says Sarah Holloway, Programme Manager.

This year’s festival takes as its theme Edible England, so there will be plenty of foodie related events as well as some general history and culture events too. 

Ramsgate Tunnels Wartime Cookery

Head on over for some fascinating wartime cookery demonstrations taking place on 18 and 19 September. If you fancy tucking into Mock Goose, emergency ‘cream’ or SPAM, you’ll be able to hear all about the resourcefulness of 1940s housewives who made use of these ingredients. Click here for more information.

When: Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th September from 10am to 4pm

Where: Ramsgate Tunnels, Marina Esplanade, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 8FH

Booking: Not required

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Captain’s Garden at Deal Castle

The volunteer team will be on hand to explain the significance of what was once an ornamental and a kitchen garden that went on to see 20th ­century use as wartime allotments and hear how it’s being brought back into use today. Click here for more information.

When: Sunday 19 September, 10am - 2:30pm

Where: Deal Castle, Victoria Road, Deal, Kent, CT14 7BA

Booking: Not required

The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge Highlights Tour

There are plenty of curiosities to see at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, one such artefact includes a mummified cat. The tour guide will also show you numerous artworks and other exciting highlights from the museum's collection. Click here for more information.

When: Saturday 18th September at 11am

Where: The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, 18 High Street, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2RA

Booking: Required, email learning@canterbury.gov.uk

The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury, Kent

The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury - Credit: Helmut Zozmann / Geograph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Festival of Chatham Reach

The Festival of Chatham Reach is an epic celebration of the maritime influence on the shaping of the Medway Towns. There will be chances to take a river trip aboard a Thames sailing barge, explore a working steam tug and stand on the deck of an authentic 1908 Whitstable oyster smack. And onshore there's also plenty of entertainment with live music, great food and many more family-friendly activities. Click here for more information.

When: Saturday 18th & 19th September, 11am - 4pm

Where: Sun Pier House, Sun Pier, Medway Street, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4HF

Booking: Not required. 

Franciscan Gardens

Discover this hidden gem in the heart of Canterbury which is filled with pretty planting, peaceful paths and a beautiful Greyfriars Chapel. Also, with it being the first Franciscan friary in Britain this location is steeped in so much history it is well worth a visit. Click here for more information.

When: Saturday 18th September: 10am - 5pm

Where: 60 St Peter's Street, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2BE

Booking: Preferred, Joshua Rhodes at enquiries@franciscangardens.org.uk 

Wildflowers at the Franciscan Gardens surrounding the Greyfriars Chapel in Canterbury, Kent

Wildflowers at the Franciscan Gardens surrounding the Greyfriars Chapel in Canterbury - Credit: Si B / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

St Mary’s Abbey

Step inside a Grade II* listed Abbey Church that dates all the way back to 1090, the nuns’ Chapter House and 13th Century cloister, in this self-guided tour. St Mary's Abbey was founded by Bishop Gundulf of Rochester Benedictine nuns and was open from 1090 until it was closed in 1538 due to the reformation of the Church. The property passed through many families until it was later purchased by a trust in 1892 and turned back into a nunnery. Click here for more information.

When: Sunday 12th September, arrive between 2pm - 3pm at 20-minute intervals.

Where: 52 Swan Street, West Malling, Kent, ME19 6JX

Booking: Required, Contact Tonbridge Castle Tourist Information Centre on 01732 770929 or at Tonbridge.castle@tmbc.gov.uk

Whitstable Community Museum & Gallery

Dubbed 'Whistable's TARDIS' the Whitstable Community Museum & Gallery may look small on the outside but there's most certainly lots to discover inside. And to keep with this year's Heritage Days Out theme of 'Edible England' you will find out all about Whitstable's fishing and oyster Heritage and why the area is still so famous for its Oysters. Click here for more information.

When: Friday 11th - Sunday 12th September & Thursday 16th - Sunday 19th September, 11am - 4.30pm

Where: 5a Oxford Street, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 1DB

Booking: Not required 

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