TOWERS and tunnels, factories and follies, chapels and synagogues – thousands of England’s most unique and undiscovered historic sites will be throwing open their doors for free next weekend as Heritage Open Days celebrates its 20th anniversary.

“2014 is a landmark year for Heritage Open Days,” says patron Loyd Grossman. “Over the past two decades we’ve enabled millions of people to visit thousands of places that are normally closed to the public, helping to put local heritage at the forefront of community life throughout England. This summer we’re looking forward to our most spectacular festival ever – a unique national celebration that brings our hidden history to life.”

The four-day festival promises a more diverse array of events than ever before, ranging from 1950s teadances to Elizabethan garden parties. Join guided walks, visit secret archives, discover hidden works of art or simply pack a picnic and soak up the sunshine in a garden of your choice.

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APOLLO PAVILION Oakerside Drive, Peterlee, SR8 1LE

THE Apollo Pavilion was named after the first manned mission to the moon in 1969, the year the structure was built, and it reflects the optimism and expectations of the era. The Pavilion was designed by artist Victor Pasmore and commissioned by Peterlee Development Corporation. It represented an unparalleled undertaking by a visual artist in Britain, shaping the built environment of a New Town.

Controversial, the Pavilion has been comprehensively restored and is now Grade II listed. Members of the Apollo Pavilion Community Association will provide guided tours outlining its turbulent history and restoration.

  • Saturday tours: 11am; 2pm; 3pm; Artist tour by Toby Paterson: noon. Call 0191-260-2191 to book.

CHERRYBURN, Northumberland

EXPLORE the birthplace and artwork of Northumberland’s most famous artist Thomas Bewick. See his craft brought to life with traditional printing demonstrations and join experts to take a rare peek at some of Bewicks original work. Meet the hens and alpacas on a walk around the paddock, explore the wildlife garden or dress up as an 18th Century child and explore the Bewick family trail.

  • Saturday and Sunday: 11am to 4pm

    SUNDERLAND HIGH SCHOOL (including Langham Tower)

HERE’S an opportunity to visit the original school building of Sunderland High School, dating back to 1884. Also visit Carlton House, which dates back to 1850, and Langham Tower, dating from 1888. The school has a Heritage Archive Room showing memorabilia from its past. All tours begin at Langham Tower.

  • Thursday and Friday: 10am to 11am; 2pm to 3pm


FROM a music room above a pub, to the world-famous home of “The Good Old Days”, the City Varieties has welcomed the very best comedians, musicians and performers for nearly 150 years.

This rare surviving example of a Victorian music hall has been restored to its former glory. Take part in competitions and creative workshops and hear stories from the buildings fascinating and often colourful past.

  • Saturday: 10am to 4pm


TAKE a look behind the scenes of this working building. Visit the Mayors Chamber, 14th Century Guild Hall which has offered hospitality to a variety of Royals throughout its colourful history, the Burlison Gallery and Crush Hall.

Marvel at the Hammer-Beam design of the main hall with its breathtaking stained glass windows and painted panels and finish your tour in the glass-ceilinged Lantern Room. Entrance via glass-fronted reception adjacent to St Nicholas Church in the city centre Market Place.

  • Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 12.30pm and 2.20pm tours. Call 07770-942949 to book.


NEW for 2014, visitors will be able to walk on Dunston Staiths for the first time in more than 20 years.

Opened by the North Eastern Railway company in 1893, Dunston Staiths on the River Tyne is believed to be the largest timber structure in Europe. At the height of its usage, 5.5 million tonnes of coal a year were taken by rail from the Durham coalfields and loaded from the Staiths onto ships waiting by the river. It is currently on the Heritage at Risk register and there are plans to make this iconic structure into a sustainable visitor attraction.

  • Friday 12pm to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 10.30am to 3.30pm.


THE boarding schools in Bowes village provided the inspiration for Dickens’ ‘village of Dotheboys’ in Nicholas Nickleby. Several buildings are still standing, including Dotheboys Hall itself.

Bowes’ other claim to fame is the early 18th Century Edwin and Emma story, a real-life Romeo and Juliet romance which ended with the lovers buried in the same grave.

David Mallet, a contemporary of Samuel Johnson, wrote the famous ballad some years later. Join a walking tour and see photos and information in Dotheboys Hall.

  • Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 6pm. Walks 11.30am and 3.30pm


NEW for 2014, this family event gives an insight into the geography of the coast around Seaham and its industrial heritage through its beach. Each session begins with a general hunt for interesting pebbles, using a ‘shopping list’.

Pebbles placed on trays are then identified by activity leaders, who will tell the stories behind both industrial materials and geology.

Pebbles will be tested for relative hardness, followed by games and pebble art. There will be a prize for the most perfect pebble.

  • Saturday 11.30am and 1.30pm, Sunday 1.30pm.


HYLTON Castle is the remains of a 14th Century fortified country residence built by the Hylton family. The gatehouse forms the main building where visitors gain access to the inside. The 13th Century structure of St Catherine’s Chapel is also sited within the castle grounds and was the original burial site for the Hylton family.

The castle is normally closed to the public.

  • Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 2pm.

TEESDALE WW1 ROADSHOW Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham

THIS will be a general introduction to the First World War and how it affected the lives of the local population. Visitors are invited to bring along personal memorabilia that directly relates to the local area, the war or that era. Experts will be on hand to give advice and information about their items, and each item can be recorded by a photographer and stored on a database. There will be an exhibition in November.

  • Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 4pm.

TOMMY’S STORY Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland

SPACE 4 and Houghton Heritage Society present Tommy’s story, a First World War story of a North- East soldier and his brother, told in photographs and documents.

Exhibition to be launched in Space4, on the ground floor of the Houghton library building. The exhibition will be complemented by music and refreshments and other people’s stories in words and pictures are welcome to be added to the display.

  • Friday and Saturday, 12.30pm to 1.30pm, Sunday 10.30am to 11.30am.

CRAGSIDE, Northumberland

ENTER the world of Lord Armstrong, Victorian inventor, innovator and landscape genius.

Cragside house was truly a wonder of its age. The first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity, it is crammed full of ingenious gadgets, most of which are still working. The grounds feature one of the largest rock gardens in Europe, leading down to the Iron Bridge, which leads to the formal garden. Children will love the adventure play area and exploring Nelly’s Labyrinth, a network of paths and tunnels cut out of a vast area of rhododendron forest. This is a National Trust Property that will be opening for free on the Saturday

THE CHORISTER SCHOOL Durham, The College, DH1 5BX.

A RARE opportunity to visit The Chorister School, the only independent prep school in Durham. The school has been established at Durham Cathedral for more than 600 years. Set in the magnificence of The College, the school is part of Durham Cathedral’s future as well as rooted in its past. It is unique in the North- East of England as it is a working choir school educating Durham Cathedral’s choristers. Access via the riverbanks, the Cathedral cloisters or The College, just off South Bailey.

  • Saturday: 10am to 12.30pm


THE Marks in Time Exhibition at the M&S Company Archive tells the remarkable 130-year story of Marks & Spencer from market stall to global retailer. For Heritage Open Days they are running behind-thescenes tours at the archive, and you can also join one of the knowledgeable guides for the M&S Leeds Heritage Trail, a walking tour between the archive and Leeds city centre, taking in sites that mark the growth of M&S in the city.

  • Saturday: 11am to 5pm


FROM the day the doors first opened with a performance of William Shakespeares Much Ado About Nothing on November 18, 1878, audiences have returned to Leeds Grand Theatre to enjoy performances and events in the Grade II-listed building.

Competitions, creative workshops, talks and craft activities will be available throughout the day in Leeds Grand Theatre and the Howard Assembly Room from Opera North, Northern Ballet and Leeds Amateur Operatic Society.

  • Sunday: 10.30am to 4pm


A BEAUTIFUL school chapel, still in daily use. Consecrated in May 1912, it contains stunning panelling and fretwork plus a magnificent Henry “Father” Willis organ. The chapel contains a number of magnificent stained glass windows, including the large north window depicting a summary of the gospel story. Other events and figures from school history are also depicted, including John de Balliol, Benjamin Flounders and a memorial to the fallen of the Great War. A short history of the chapel will be available. Located next to the Bowes Museum, less than five minutes walk from Barnard Castle town centre, the chapel is located to the right of the main building.

  • Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 4pm; Sunday service: 10.30am.
  • Heritage Open Days, Thursday, September 11, to Sunday, September 14. Visit or for more details.