Visit Harrogate with Mike Newby: Attractions ready to open their doors for heritage celebration

editorial image

It’s been another record breaking month for Visit Harrogate: August saw 74,000 hits on the website following July’s 70,000 and there have been over 2 million page views in the last 12 months.

We have also hosted a number of travel journalists from home and overseas over the summer as part of our programme to promote the District further afield.

They all enjoyed their time in the District with comments like: “Harrogate has a lot to offer – brill” and “Thanks again for the wonderful time together. We did feel the passion of everyone we spoke to.”

A big thank you to all our partners who helped to host these visits.

There are many reasons why people visit this area and a major one is our wealth of historic and architectural treasures.

It could be easy to be complacent and just accept what we have around us; sometimes we don’t see the value of a building until it is under threat.

It is, therefore, great that every September there is a national celebration of our built heritage when we can rediscover some real gems.

Heritage Open Days is a long weekend of opportunities to visit places for free that are otherwise closed to the public, whose access may be limited during the year or that may normally charge admission.

There may also be guided tours that reveal a little more about an otherwise familiar building.

This is a weekend not only for visitors to the area but also for locals to find out a little more about that building that we pass every day but have never been in, or that we use on a regular basis but have never seen behind the scenes.

If you are reading this on Thursday there might still be time to visit the nuclear shelter in Crescent Gardens in Harrogate (did you even know that one existed?), go on one of the guided tours of Grove Road and Stonefall cemeteries, the Royal Hall (but there is a schedule of further tours if you miss today), visit Wath Mill near Pateley Bridge or see the Victorian Altar frontals at St James Church in Baldersby. These are only open today. However, all is not lost because there are lots of other places to visit and things to do over the weekend.

Many of our local places of worship, both current and historic will be open, some featuring talks and exhibitions.

Among those are Christ Church, St Wilfred’s, St Mark’s, St John’s, Wesley Chapel and the Synagogue in Harrogate; St John’s in Sharow; the Church of Christ the Consoler at Newby Hall; the Mary Magdalen Chapel in Ripon; All Saints Church in Spofforth; All Saints Church in Kirk Deighton and All Saints Church, Kirby Hill.

There is a rare opportunity to visit the Church Tower at the Old St Marys Church and churchyard in Pateley Bridge.

Also in the Pateley Bridge area there will be an opportunity to visit the Nidderdale Museum and Pateley Playhouse.

If you are in the Ripon area you might like to pop into the all three of the City’s museums, The Masonic Hall, The Gazebo, The Ruin at Hackfall Grewelthorpe or the Witch of the Woods Cottage in Galphay.

Further north Clifton Castle, just north of Masham will be open at certain times whist Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal will be featuring special tours on Saturday.

The Castle and Courthouse Museum will be open in Knaresborough. Two of the Harlow area’s landmarks will also be open: The St Andrews Police Treatment Centre and Harlow Tower.

There will be plenty of opportunities to learn about Harrogate’s spa heritage at the Old Magnesia Well Pump Room in the Valley Gardens, the Royal Pump Room Museum and the Mercer Gallery.

There is an opportunity to visit Grove House, the former home of Samson Fox (a previous Mayor of Harrogate and the man behind the Royal Hall) over the next three days.

There will also be, what might be a last chance, an opportunity to visit the Council Chamber and Mayor’s Parlour in Harrogate today and tomorrow; a must see visit before the Council vacates the Crescent Gardens building.

If you want to find out more, particular opening times and details of guided tours, the Council, in partnership with Harrogate, Knaresborough and Ripon Civic Societies, have a produced a useful guide to the weekend and that can be picked up in Tourist Information Centres or go to the Visit Harrogate website.

And if there wasn’t enough to do visiting the heritage sites the Spiegeltent makes a welcome return to Crescent Gardens on Saturday for a week of live music and family events and the Ripon International Music Festival is in full sway making for an eventful week ahead.

l Where will you be visiting as part of the Heritage Open Days event? Send us your photos and let us know which attraction was your favourite. Email news@harrogateadvertiser.co.uk