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Heritage Open Days


England's history, architecture and culture is celebrated when buildings of every age, style and function open their doors for free for the annual Heritage Open Days. This year's event runs from Friday 10 September to Sunday 19 September 2021.

This is a national event that celebrates England's fantastic architectural and cultural sites. Visit Heritage Open Days for more information.

Before heading out for your Heritage Open Day, please check their website for changes and cancellations of events and if you or a member of your household are unwell with symptoms of Covid-19, please do not attend any events.

Dates of the event

The event runs every September. This year's dates are Friday 10 September  to Sunday 19 September.

Discover hidden architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities which bring to life local history and culture:

  • Free entry to venues that usually charge
  • Tours that give glimpses into hidden places- many of which are virtual this year
  • Walks through our historic landscape - with evidence of settlement from pre-history to the modern day
  • Churches - from Saxon to Medieval to Victorian in County Durham
  • Talk to knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers who guide you round the venue

Here is a full list of attractions taking place: 

Durham Market Hall

Durham Market Place, DH1 3NJ.

Discover the fascinating history of markets in Durham City since the 1000's culminating in the construction of the Victorian Market Hall in 1851.

10 to 18 September (excluding 12 September), 10.00am. Places are limited so booking is preferred.

Call Alice Wilkes on 0191 384 6153 or email alice@durhammarkets.co.uk.

Durham School and Chapel 

Durham, DH1 4SZ.

One of the country's oldest schools opens its doors to the public with a guided tour available exploring its 600 year history. The chapel, which was completed and dedicated as a memorial to 104 Old Dunelmians who died during World War 1 will also be open to view.

Sunday 12 September, school chapel open 12.00pm to 4.00pm with guided tour meeting at 2.00pm. Booking preferred for the guided tour. See also Durham School Virtual Tour.

Durham Town Hall

Market Place, DH1 3NJ.

Discover a hidden gem which has been at the heart of civic life in Durham City since the 14th century. Free, new exhibitions will also be on display as part of Heritage Open Days. See Durham Town Hall for information about the building.

Drop in between 10 and 19 September between 10.00am and 3.00pm for an exhibition by local artist Dennis Fox on the Battle of Britain.

Flass Vale and Orchard Tour

King Lodge Hotel, Waddington Street, Durham DH1 4BG

A wooded valley close to the centre of Durham City, part of Flass Vale is a local nature reserve and also hides an orchard, planted over 150 years ago, which is now being restored. Sturdy shoes recommended.

Sunday 12 September, 11.00am to 1.00pm. No booking required. Dogs welcome.

Nature's Table at Wharton Park

Wharton Park Visitor Centre, Durham City. DH1 4FJ

Check out the amazing foods grown in the community garden by the Friends of Wharton Park group. Available anytime. No booking required.

North End Allotments and Flass Vale Nature Reserve

Fourways, Larches Road, Durham, DH14NL 

Walk around the wonderful allotments then have a cup of tea and a slice of cake and maybe take some chutney home.

Sunday 12 September, 11.00am to 4.00pm. No booking required.

Old Durham Gardens

Bent House Lane, Durham City, DH1 2RY

Seventeenth century formal gardens with views of the cathedral.

Tours available on 12 September between 10.00am and 4.00pm by emailing Martin Roberts at martin.fleece@gmail.com.

St Cuthberts Catholic Church, Durham

Old Elvet, Durham City, DH1 3HL

View the stunning stained glass window by the renowned artist Harry Clarke. Take in the beauy of a lecturn and processional cross by local sculptor Fenwick Lawson. 

10, 12, 17 and 19 September 1.00pm to 4.30pm and 11 and 18 September 10.30am to 16.30pm. No booking required.

Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone - archaeologcal excavations at Auckland Castle

Clocktower Arch, Auckland Castle, Market Place, DL14 7NP.

Visit the trenches of recent excavations and find out what has been discovered in 2021. 

Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone

An illustrated talk by Dr Anne Allen, poject manager for the Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone which has been established to revitalise the historic market place. 

11 September, 2.30pm to 3.15pm. Booking and link to Zoom required as this talk is online. Email bishopucklandhaz@durham.gov.uk.

Bishop Auckland local listing walk

Bishop Auckland Town Hall, Market Place, Bishop Auckland, DL147NP

Explore buildings and places of historical interest which may be nominated for a new project which could see them locally listed. Point out places and spaces in the town that are of interest to you.

12 September 2.30pm to 3.30pm. Booking required. Email bishopucklandhaz@durham.gov.uk 

Book Launch: Bishop Aucklad in Colour Postcards

Bishop Auckland Town Hall, Market Place, DL147NP

Meet local historian Tom Hutchinson as he talks about his latest publicaton. Tom unveils a new collection of 100 postcards of the town from the Victorian era - with added colour.

18 Septermber, 1.00pm to 2.00pm. No booking required.

Bridges of Bishop Auckland Storymap

Bishop Auckland, County Durham, DL147PY.

A virtual storymap of bridges in and around Bishop Auckland.

No booking required. Online event. Link available from 10 September.

Down The Batts Bank

Bishop Auckland Town Hall, Market Place DL14 7NP

Guided walk led by local historian Tom Hutchinson. Starting from the town hall this circular walk takes in bridges and the site for Kynren.

18 September 10.00am to noon. Booking required by emailing bishopucklandhaz@durham.gov.uk.

People's Museum and Heritage Trail

Hippodrome Bingo, 27 Railway Street, Bishop Auckland, DL14 7LR

Memorabillia of Bishop Auckland on display at the old Hippodrome Theatre.

10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 September 10.00am to 10.00pm and 12, 13 and 19 September 4.00pm to 10.00pm.

No booking required but the site is located in a working bingo hall and so over 18s only. No lift.

Rail Heritage Trail 

Four Clocks Centre, 154A Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland, DL147EH

A guided walk by Michael O'Neill which starts at the Four Clocks Centre which houses the Boshop Auckland Railway Exhibition. The walk also takes in the People's Museum and the  tranquil community led Remembrance Garden. 

10 September, noon. No booking required.

St Andrews, Bishop Auckland

St Andrew's Church, Crown Street, DL146FR

Opportunity to visit the open parish church based on Saxon foundation. Grade 1 listed church.

11 September 10.00am to 3.00pm. No booking required.

St Anne's Church Bishop Auckland

St Anne's Church, Market Place, DL14 7NP

St Anne's is built on the site of a medievil chapel. Come and enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of this Grade 11 listed chapel.

16 September 11.00 to 4.00pm. No booking required.

Through Soldiers Eyes

Bishop Auckland Town Hall, Market Place, DL147NP

Exhibition of works by serving personnel, veterans and menbers of the armed forces community featuring DLI collections and other historical works. 

11 to 19 September (Excluding 12 September) 10.00am to 4.00pm. No booking required.

Brancepeth Castle

Brancepeth, DH7 8DF

Tours of this Grade 1 listed Castle, home of the Nevilles, Earls of Westmorland.

12 September 2.30pm and 4.30pm amd 13 and 14 September at 6.30pm.

Booking required as tours limited to 20 people. 03000 262 626

Guided Walk: foraging for edible vegetables

Relly Cottage, Broompark, Durham, DH7 7RJ

Join site ranger Richard Bell as he takes you arounf the site to look for edible plants and fungi.

Walk will be approximately one hour. Wear suitable footwear.

17 September noon to 1.00pm. Booking prefered by emailing Countryside@durham.gov.uk

Spennymoor Town Hall, Bob Abley Art Gallery, Norman Cornish Trail and Mining museum

Spennymoor Town Hall, High Street, DL16 6DG

The Bob Abley gallery has over 250 pieces of artwork by a range of local artists. See Norman Cornish's gallery and then follow the trail to take in the key locations where Norman Cornish created his iconic artwork.

10, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 September 9.00am to 5.00pm and 11, 12, 18 and 19 September 9.00am to 4.00pm. No booking required.

Park installation by Ed Carter

Hardwick Park Visitor Centre, Sedgefield, TS21 2DN

Discover artworks installed in the park by Ed Carter which includes his collaboration with The Sedgefield Handbell Ringers.

Available anytime during 10 and 19 September. No booking required.

St Edmunds Church, Sedgefield

Cross Hill, Sedgeield, TS21 3AT

Features include Frosterley marble floors and a 17th Century screen. 

16, 17 and 18 December 10.00am to 4.00p,m.

Booking prefered: bmutch@btconnect.com or call 01740622302.

St Helen's Church, St Helen Auckland

Manor Road, St Helen Auckland, Bishop Auckland, DL149EN

Grade I listed church circa 1120. Guided tours which take in the memorial to the local football team winning the first world cup in nearby West Auckland and the world's first iron railway bridge.

10 and 17 September 10.00am to noon and 11 and 18 September 10.00am to 4.00pm. No booking required.

St Laurence's Church, Pittington

Hallgarth, High Pittington, DH61AB

Grade I listed 12th and 13th Century church.

11 September 10.00am to 4.00pm. No booking required.

Guided Heritage Walk to Crowley's Dam

The Land of Oak and Iron Heritage Centre, Spa Well Road, Blaydon-on-Tyne, NE21 6RU

Guided walks taking in Crowley's ironworks, the only visible remains of what was the largest ironworks in Europe and through Derwenthaugh Park, the low dam and Spilway.

13, 15 and 17 September 10.00am to 11.00am. Booking required by emailing landofoakandiron@groundwork.org.uk

Guided heritage walk to Hollinside

The Land of Oak and Iron Heritage Centre, Spa Well Road, Blaydon-on-Tyne, NE21 6RU

Discover the giant's castle which presides over the lower Derwent Valley or why not take in more than 800 years of history with a knowledgable local walk leader.

No dogs allowed and some paths may be steep with no access for pushchairs (Hollinside Manor).

14 and 16 September 11.00am to 1.00pm. Booking required by emailing landofoakandiron@groundwork.org.uk

Hidden nature guided walk

The Land of Oak and Iron Heritage Centre, Spa Well Road, Blaydon-on-Tyne, NE21 6RU

Explore the hidden nature of the Derwent Valley with local historian Michael Turner.

No dogs, gentle inclines, please wear appropriate footwear.

12 September 8.00am to noon. Booking required by emailing landofoakandiron@groundwork.com. 

Live music with the Cloth Cap Temperance Band

The Land of Oak and Iron Heritage Centre, Spa Well Road, Blaydon-on-Tyne, NE21 6RU

Enjoy live music in the courtyard at the heritage centre.

Geordie songs and a good laugh.

19 September 11.00am to 4.00pm. No booking required.

St Andrews Church

Dalton-le-Dale, Seaham, SR7 8QT

A unique church dating back to Anglo Saxon origins. 

11 September 10.00am to 4.00pm. No booking required.

Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ

North East Theatre Organ Association, New Victoria Centre, High Street, Howden-le-Wear, Crook, DL158EZ

Find out the amazing story of the only remaining Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ in the North East.

Also enjoy music from Stuart Wright's Gavoli Firground Organ in the car park.

18 September 10.00am, 11.30am, 1.00pm, 2.30pm and 4.00pm. No booking required.

The Fitzhugh Library

51 Market Place, Middleton-in-Teesdale, DL12 0QH

Hidden collection of photographs, books and documents covering the Palatine County of Durham and the ecclesiastical parish of Romaldkirk.

10 to 14 September, 10.00am to 3.00pm.  No booking required.

The Weardale Museum

Hotts, Ireshopeburn, Weardale, DL13 1HD

A small, volunteer led museum dedicated to preserving and recording the history of Weardale.

13 to 19 September, 1.00pm to 4.30pm. No booking required.

Thorpe Light Railway

Whorlton, DL12 8XD.

An opportunity for visitors to learn about the history of Thorpe Light Railway and hear about future plans.

Saturday 11 September: 12.30pm to 3.30pm. No booking required.

How to include your venue or event

We welcome new venues and events. If you, your organisation or community group would like to take part, or if you would like some more information, then please contact us.

Contact us
Heritage Open Days
03000 267 133
Our address is:
  • Durham County Council
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ