Heritage Open Days festival is a ‘huge success’ in Norfolk

Diss Museum, Market Place.

Diss Museum, Market Place. - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2010

A four-day festival celebrating the county's rich heritage has been branded a 'huge success' after thousands of visitors enjoyed more than 250 free events.

Norfolk opened its doors last weekend as part of the cultural bonanza Heritage Open Days, and a 'promising number' of history lovers flocked to Norwich, Broadland, Great Yarmouth, south Norfolk, Thetford, Kings Lynn, north Norfolk and further afield.

The annual event gives people a chance to look inside the county's historic buildings and explore houses, venues and shop areas normally closed to the public.

St George's Church at Shimpling, near Diss, reported a quarter more heritage explorers this year, and both Diss Museum and St Peter Mancroft's ringing chamber, in Norwich, received double the number of visitors than last year.

In 2012, Heritage Open Days in Norwich and Norfolk generated £755,725 for the local economy and were enjoyed by more than 43,000 visitors - making over 150,000 visits.

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Norwich's Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART), who co-ordinated the Norwich events and organise the brochure for Norfolk, said it had received great feedback about the festival.

Chief executive of HEART, Michael Loveday, said: 'I wandered around a wide range of venues over the four days and was delighted to see hundreds of people discovering heritage gems for the first time.

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'Next year is the tenth anniversary of us co-ordinating the event so we'd like it to be huge and our supporters can help us to make it so.'

Norfolk's Heritage Open Days is part of a national festival which is co-ordinated in partnership by The National Trust, the Heritage Alliance and Civic Voice, and is now one of the largest free heritage events in England and Wales, outside London.

And following on from this year's festival fans can now enjoy more of the same locally with HEART's new Supporter Scheme.

The scheme is designed for people who love heritage and want to help HEART promote the city's history, improve access and continue to provide heritage events for the county.

• HEART is asking for visitors' feedback on this year's Heritage Open Days. Visitors are asked to return any survey forms to HEART at The Guildhall, Gaol Hill, Norwich, NR2 1JS or to fill in the survey online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/HODs2013.

• For full details and benefits of HEART's Support Scheme visit www.heritagecity.org.

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