Heritage Open Days - Discover local history in East Sussex

Heritage Open Days are a great way to discover places, people and crafts right on your doorstep.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 2:22 pm
Updated Monday, 13th September 2021, 3:52 pm
Brighton Dome

The open days take place every September and is England’s largest festival of history and culture.

Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, local people and visitors will be able to explore hidden places and try new experiences across the South East.

All the events are free and include tours of a working watermill, windmills, Masonic Halls, and tours of graveyards.

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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.

“Heritage Open Days 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.

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “We’re delighted our players are able to continue to support Heritage Open Days in 2021.

“The festival has always been about bringing communities together, and this year we’re particularly excited to see how this can be done through food and drink events. It’s certainly a tasty theme.”

One tour that is taking place on Sunday, September 12 is The Commonwealth War Graves Commission tour at Seaford Cemetery.

A spokesperson for CWGC said: “In the UK alone, there are more than 12,500 war grave sites maintained by CWGC, and every single one contains a human story worth connecting with.

“Heritage Open days provides the perfect opportunity for the public to discover these remarkable stories and explore the world war heritage on their doorstep.

“Through our Heritage Open Day tours in Sussex, the public will be able to learn about Canadian and West Indian servicemen buried in Seaford Cemetery and discover how eight First World War servicemen came to be remembered in Heene cemetery.”

In Lewes there is a programme of building openings and guided walks in the town.

The event is organised by the Friends of Lewes and 13 different buildings are taking part, some of which are not normally open to the public.

Peter Earl, coordinator for Heritage Open Days at Friends of Lewes, said: “These embrace a range of historic periods and styles in a variety of uses. Included is the Grade I listed Jireh Chapel and the former council offices in Fisher which have just been converted to The Werks creative work and meeting spaces.

“The programme has six different bookable walks in various parts of the town’s conservation area on diverse themes.

“In addition, the Baxter’s Field open space has embraced the national Heritage Open Days theme of ‘Edible England’ by providing samples of autumn fruits and berries, and tours to learn about edible and poisonous plants.”

A map leaflet is available from the Lewes Tourist Information Centre, Seaford Tourist information Centre and Newhaven Fort, as well as many businesses and other places around Lewes.

You can also find full details on the website: friends-of-lewes.org.uk/hod2021The websites include Eventbrite links to reserve places on the walks. These must be booked in advance.

There are also six different popular self-guided walk leaflets which can be enjoyed at any time at your own pace, again available at Lewes Tourist Information Centre.

Brighton Dome will be celebrating its culinary links to the past with a series of online and live events in the venue.

Katie Fowler, from the Dome, said: “Visitors can learn about the kitchens that cooked traditional food for Indian soldiers recuperating at Brighton Dome during the First World War, the lashings of plum pudding served at a lavish party to celebrate the Prince Regent’s birthday in 1814, discover the flavours of Brighton’s famous North Laine and a satirical Suffragette-inspired recipe.”

Brighton Dome is celebrating its heritage in partnership with the Chattri Memorial Group and Infinity Foods with exhibits that will bring the city’s stories to life.

The morning’s events include backstage tours for small groups to explore the behind-the-scenes secrets of the venue and a talk from members of the Chattri Group.

In the afternoon, families are welcomed for a series of bookable activities and for those wishing to join in from home, the online programme features an Indian cookery lesson and a Bollywood dance workshop.

Brighton Dome’s public heritage programme is supported by the National Lottery Heritage

The full programme and ticket bookings will be available on brightondome.orgHeritage Open Days is England’s contribution to European Heritage Days, taking place across 50 countries.

There are a number of events taking place in Hastings and St Leonards.

Dr Deborah Madden, chair of Hastings Society, said: “The festival is a good opportunity to boost tourism for towns, as well as giving residents the opportunity to learn more about their local heritage.

“The Society is supported particularly by the Burtons’ St. Leonards Society and Hastings Local History Group in this endeavour to promote our local heritage.”

Heritage Open Days is England’s contribution to European Heritage Days, taking place across 50 countries.

For further information about Heritage Open Days www.heritageopendays.org.uk