10 of the best Heritage Open Day venues in and around Lancashire

Dob Croft (c) Victoria Tetley / VJT Photography/The Intact Centre

Dob Croft (c) Victoria Tetley / VJT Photography/The Intact Centre - Credit: Victoria Tetley / VJT Photography

These are 10 of the venues – many of them not normally open to the public – which will welcome visitors this month

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the annual Heritage Open Days festival, with hundreds of venues - many of them not normally open to the public - throwing open their doors. The ten day festival will celebrate people power and will highlight the communities, groups and individuals who have made a positive difference, by saving buildings, creating green spaces and fighting campaigns.

Heritage Open Days national manager, Annabelle Thorpe, said: 'Our 25th anniversary and our first-ever ten-day festival means Heritage Open Days 2019 is going to be an unforgettable year. This year will see a more diverse and innovative array of events than ever before - proving that Heritage Open Days really does belong to everyone.'

These are ten of the venues taking part in the event around Lancashire. For the full list of participating venues, go to heritageopendays.org.uk.

21st and 22nd

Marsh Mill Windmill, Thornton

Get a unique introduction to milling from a bygone age at this Grade II* listed mill which is one of the tallest of its kind in Europe. On a guided tour of this distinctive local landmark, visitors will see the working machinery, learn about the engineering which makes it work, and admire its distinctive tapered sails and upturned boat-shaped roof. It's also a rare chance to see the building in operation, with the sails planned to be turning specially for the festival.

Open: 11am-3pm


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14th and 21st

The Cast Iron Church, Aigburth

One of only two known cast iron framed buildings of this type in the world, St Michael-in-the-Hamlet demonstrates early innovation in metal-frame construction from the start of the 19th century. Led by guides from the building's Friends group, visitors will get to take a tour of this unusual church, learn about the iron foundry owner who built it, and discover its many visual surprises which have led to Grade I status. Open: 10am-4pm



13th-15th and 20th-22nd

Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre, Liverpool

Built in the 19th century by philanthropist and business merchant Joseph Williamson, the maze of sandstone tunnels was all but forgotten until excavations started in 1995. Even today, the exact purpose of this unusual project remains a mystery, but festival visitors will get to hear ideas which might help explain the burrowing of this Victorian eccentric, on a 45 minute tour through this incredible subterranean labyrinth.

Open: From 10.30am




Discover Dob Croft, Ingol

Get back to nature at this five-acre wildlife reserve where visitors can tour the protected landscape and spot birds, moths, hedgehogs, mammals and reptiles - you may even be lucky enough to see rare great crested newts which have been recently discovered in the area. Family-friendly activities will also teach kids how to make a bird feeder, with local history talks helping everyone understand more about the natural environment on their doorstep. Open: 2-5pm




Rufford Old Hall, Ormskirk

Explore the 500-year history of this Tudor hall, complete with armour and tapestries. Look round the building and discover the intriguing lives of the Hesketh family; lords of the manor for seven generations. Outside, little ones will enjoy bug hunting, getting creative with wild art kits, and the fresh air on a stroll through the orchard and woodlands. And gardeners won't want to miss the formal Victorian courtyard garden, and a chance to see the elegant topiaries of 'squirrel border'. Open: 11am-5pm,




The Clergy Daughters' School, Cowan Bridge

Discover the real-life inspiration for Jane Eyre's 'Lowood School' at Cowman Bridge, a 19th century low-fee school for clergymen's daughters, attended by the Brontë sisters in the 1820s. Learn more about the writers' poor health and hygiene experiences during their stay, as well as the school's improved reputation later on.

After being left empty for 30 years, the building has been recently restored as a holiday cottage, so historic home-owners can also pick up some tips for sympathetic renovations using traditional materials.

Open: 10.30am-5.30pm




Lancaster Grand Theatre, Lancaster

Take a backstage tour and discover the origins of clowns. Led by Footlights members, visitors will get to see areas not normally open to the public at this 237-year old theatre. A special focus on early 19th century actor, Joe Grimaldi will also explain the creation of two characters modern audiences today will still recognise; clowns and pantomime dames.

Visitors will hear how he created the now infamous clown make-up as the original clown, his performance on the Lancaster Grand stage in 1818, as well as his iconic role as the first pantomime dame.

Open: 10am-3pm




Church Cottage Museum, Broughton

Discover a 16th century gem in the village of Broughton. The museum was restored in 1994 and visitors can explore the building's story, including a look at the 'peasants hovel' which once provided shelter for both animals and people, and the rooms used as lodgings during stop-offs for convicted criminals on their way to Lancaster Castle.

Open: Noon-5pm



14th-15th and 21st-22nd

Museum of Transport, Manchester

With one of Britain's biggest collections of restored buses, coaches and trams, visitors will get to see and sit in vehicles which once helped the people of Manchester get to work, go on days out, and visit the shops. Highlights include a Victorian horse-drawn bus, and a prototype Metrolink tram.

After looking round, visitors can keep exploring the city's history with a heritage bus service, offering free transport to other local festival events.

Open: 10am-4.30pm


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