Exploring Harrogate district's rich heritage... and it won't cost you a penny
The public will get the chance to explore the incredible history, heritage and culture of the Harrogate district as Heritage Open Days return this weekend for the first time in two years.
Heritage Open Days were started in 1994 and have since become the country’s largest community heritage festival.
Run by community volunteers across England, it has grown to such an extent that more than 5,700 events are now held nationally, attracting 2.4 million visitors each year.
Harrogate hasn’t been lucky in recent times, missing out in 2019 because of preparations for the UCI Road World Championships and, in 2020, because of the Covid pandemic. But local coordinators - the Harrogate Civic Society - are delighted to welcome its return across the district from this Friday, September 10 to Sunday, September 19.
Harrogate Civic Society’s co-chair Stuart Holland said: “We are delighted to be back up and running this year and look forward to meeting visitors. We’ve also introduced a series of guided walks with everything from exploring the old coal sidings at Bilton, discovering New Park, following town trails as well as an exploration of Valley Drive.
“They are already proving popular with almost half of the places reserved.”
Led nationally by the National Trust since 2011, Heritage Open Days were the brainchild of the European Commission back in 1991.
The idea is to throw open the doors of a wide range of public buildings and attractions on our doorstep free of charge to enable people to experience local history, architecture and culture free of charge.
Locally, the programme spans the public, private and voluntary sectors in Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon and Nidderdale.
Among the locations open to the public from this weekend are Knaresborough Castle Keep, Stonefall Cemetery, The Civic Centre Council offices, New Park Heritage Centre, The
Harrogate Club, The Magnesia Well, Valley Gardens, St Peter’s Church, St Roberts RC Church and many more.
In Harrogate, this year’s events will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of renowned Harrogate historian and author Malcolm Neesam.
In association with the Harrogate Civic Society, Mr Neesam will be hosting Heritage Open Days at The Club this Saturday, September 11 and Sunday, September 19.
Another first is the opening of the private chapel at Rudding Park Hotel with a glimpse of its stunning interior.
In addition to a new free phone app enabling people to explore the town’s Brown Heritage Plaque trails at their leisure, Harrogate Civic Society has also set up a new series of guided walks.
Taking place on a limited number of days, the walks include:
* Town Walk of Heritage Plaques from Crescent Gardens;
*Town Walk Heritage Plaques from Station Gardens;
* Valley Drive - a history of the street, its residents and visitors;
* New Park - exploring the historic community;
* Bilton Park Colliery and the remains of its 18th century site.
* Harry’s Free Walking Tours will also be taking place in Harrogate town centre on an almost daily basis.
Some of the key dates and events to look out for during Heritage Open Day week:
Friday, September 10:
10am - 4pm: Knaresborough Castle Keep. Once a luxury royal residence. Explore the King’s Chamber, the dungeon and more. No booking required
11am to 1pm: St. Peter’s Church, Cambridge Street. No booking required. (Also on Monday 13th)
Saturday, September 11:
2pm: One-and-a-half mile walk to Bilton Park Colliery along banks of the River Nidd. Book in advance if possible. 01423 203097 or email [email protected]
11am & 3pm: Guided tour of The Harrogate Club, Victoria Avenue. 01423 540248 to book.(Also on Sunday 19th)
10.30am, 11am, 1pm & 1.30pm: Stonefall Cemetery Tours (Commonwealth War Graves Commission). Learn about the work of the CWGC and the stories of those buried there. Pre-booking required www.eventbrite.co.uk (Also on Wednesday 15th, Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th.)
Sunday, September 12:
10am to 11.30am: Town walk 1 - One-and-a-half hours. Following brown plaques from opposite Harrogate Station and discovering about how the town developed. Email: [email protected] to book.
10am to 4pm: Old Magnesia Well Pump Room, Valley Gardens. Built 1858 to house the pump for the adjacent magnesia well. Now a visitor centre. No booking required. (Also on Sunday 19th)
Monday, September 13:
2pm to 3.30pm: Town walk 2 - One-and-a-half hours. Following brown plaques from Crescent Gardens and discovering our Spa Heritage. Email: [email protected] to book.
10am to noon: St. Mark’s Church, Leeds Road. A modern church serving the community. (Also on Wednesday 15th and Friday 17th)
Tuesday, September 14:
9.30am to noon: Bilton Study Group open day - discover old records of Bilton at Bilton Community Centre. Book in advance if possible 01423 203097 or email [email protected]
10am to 11.30am & 2pm to 3.30pm: Harrogate Library, Victoria Avenue. Learn more about the history of, and resources held at, Harrogate’s Carnegie Library. (Also on Wednesday 15th)
2pm to 4pm: Rudding Park Private Chapel. Spectacular architecture and masonry. Built in 1874. No booking required.
2pm to 3pm: A walk on Valley Drive. Look at the origins of this fascinating street. Email: [email protected] to book
Wednesday, September 15:
4.30pm to 5.45pm: Harrogate Free Walking Tour. A Local Tour for Local People. Meet opposite Bettys.
Thursday, September 16:
1.30pm to 3pm: A Walk around New Park. Explore the historic community. Tel: 01423 502840 to book or email [email protected]
Friday, September 17:
10am to 3pm: Wesley Chapel, Oxford Street. Recently re-ordered and re-branded as the Wesley Centre.
Saturday, September 18:
10.30am to 1pm: The Civic Centre guided tour, including the Council Chamber and Civic Silver. Email: [email protected] to book.
10am to 2pm: St. Robert’s RC Church, Robert Street. With a stunning interior worth visiting.
10am to 3pm: St Wilfrid’s Church, Duchy Road. Tours every half hour. Tower tours available. Booking preferred [email protected]
3pm to 5pm: New Park Heritage Centre. Guided tours. 01423 502840 to book or email [email protected]
4.30pm to 5.45pm: Harrogate Free Walking Tour. Meet opposite Bettys.
Sunday, September 19:
(See earlier events in italics.)
Saturday, September 26:
10am to 4pm: Royal Hall Open Day. Guided tours 11am & 2pm.
(Please note, this is not a HODS event but is supported by Harrogate Civic Society.)