Heritage Open Days line-up 'fantastic'

MARK NICHOLLS Norwich has been praised for lining up the biggest series of events for a single city this year as part of a prestigious national heritage festival.


Norwich has been praised for lining up the biggest series of events for a single city this year as part of a prestigious national heritage festival.

The Heritage Open Days (HOD) event is not only being launched in the city, but to date Norwich has seen 126 sites register to take part, far more than any other participant.

The event, running from September 8-11, is being co-ordinated by the Civic Trust and English Heritage and will see some of the city's hidden architectural treasures revealed to the public for the first time.

Yesterday Civic Trust HOD manager Katja Condy visited Norwich to look at the programme and discuss arrangements for the national launch at Norwich Cathedral on September 1.

Impressed by what she saw, she told local co-ordinators: “Norwich is holding the largest Heritage Open Days event in England this year, it is a fantastic line-up.”

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The event is being co-ordinated locally by Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (Heart)

In recent weeks HOD team has secured 126 events, seeing some old favourites open their doors to a new audience and areas that have rarely been seen before being opened to the public.

Events already registered include the city's two cathedrals and 32 medieval city churches with a chance to see inside those not normally open.

Buildings from other Christian denominations are open such as The Octagon Unitarian Chapel, The Old Meeting House Congregationalist Church in Colegate, and The Friends Meeting House used by the City's famous daughter Elizabeth Fry.

Heart's HOD manager Sophie Cabot said: “In addition there is the chance to take a guided walk around the Rosary Cemetery, Britain's first non-denominational cemetery, to visit the tombs of some famous Norwich names of the past.”

HOD also offers the opportunity to see totally hidden sites. Norwich, for example, has the largest collection of medieval undercrofts in the UK, but most are not usually open to the public such as those beneath Augustine Steward House in Tombland and at 4 St Benedict's.

Other examples of “underground Norwich” include in a Norman house discovered by archaeologists in the 1970s and hidden away in the basement of a shop in London Street a perfect example of life below stairs during the early part of the last century.

As part of HOD there are guided walks with the Norwich Society showing people the delights of Elm Hill as well as a series of talks.

One of the principal innovations for this year is the inclusion of 'modern heritage', the UEA campus and elements of the Millennium Library in The Forum.

Shopping heritage is a further theme which has been taken up enthusiastically by local retailers, commemorating the likes of Curls and Bonds as well as other elements of city's shopping past through a series of heritage window displays.

And developing the well known “church for every week, pub for every day” theme in Norwich, HODs will this year offer an insight into lost pubs and breweries through a series of exhibitions. Participating hostelries including the two city centre Woolpack inns, The Sir Garnet Wolseley, the recently refurbished King's Head on Magdalen Street and The Hog in Armour.

Despite already attracting 126 entries, Heart is also seeking more with an appeal for secret or little known examples of Norwich heritage?

Sophie added: “We are looking for your homes, your workplaces, your open spaces and anything else. Would you be willing to be part of the event by acting as a volunteer guide or steward?

“For example we need Elizabeth Fry specialists to steward Earlham Hall and friendly, well informed, people who can sit in St Laurence's Church and welcome visitors.

“We particularly need somebody who knows about the brewing industry in the city - did you work at the old Crown Maltings on King Street?

“We are looking for people who have got a story to tell about the places which are open, people who new the building or worked in them.”

“We want people who are good at talking, people who are enthusiastic about the place and want to share that with other people.

“It is not just buildings but public spaces about the city, it is heritage in the broadest sense possible.”

If you can help contact Sophie Cabot on 01603212234 or by email on sophiecabot@norwich.gov.uk

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