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Heritage Open Days 2019 new events in Kent and firm favourites

This year, Heritage Open Days marks its 25th anniversary of bringing history and culture to the people with 10 days of free events, thanks to support from the National Trust and the People’s Postcode Lottery,

There are more than 1,200 events across the South East, including many new ones across Kent. Check out our guide to what's going on in the county and to find an event near you search at heritageopendays.org.uk

Open the door on history and discovery with Heritage Open Days
Open the door on history and discovery with Heritage Open Days


There’s a special glimpse inside Canterbury Cathedral and its Graffiti Research Project on Friday, September 13 and again on Friday, September 20.

From animals and faces, ships and initials there are a surprising number of historic markings found etched into the fabric of the cathedral. Fourteen volunteers have been painstakingly recording the graffiti, some of which dates back to the 12th century, as part of the five-year Canterbury Journey project. The historic graffiti may have been created by pilgrims, as much is centred around where Thomas Beckett’s tomb was at one time, while some are thought to be marks by stonemasons who created the stones the cathedral was made from. Philippa Mesiano from the collections management, said: “We need to know everything that is here. These are marks that have deeper meaning than we understand them to have. With a lot of it though, there are more questions than answers.”

Ancient graffiti in Canterbury Cathedral
Ancient graffiti in Canterbury Cathedral

Volunteer Su Westerman added: “I never switch off from graffiti. You have to look at it within context but you can’t ascribe one meaning to it." Graffiti is thought to have had a different meaning than today. Philippa added: “There is the Cult of Beckett to consider and we think they felt like, if they left their mark, they had never left the place.”

The tours are from 6.15pm until 8.45pm on both Fridays. Pre-book by emailing journey@canterbury-cathedral.org


The theme is People Power on Saturday, September 14, between 10am and 4pm, when the French Hospital and the Huguenot Museum in Rochester High Street celebrates 25 years of Heritage Open Days with a day celebrating Jacques de Gastigny, who founded The French Hospital more than 300 years ago, to support Huguenots in need. Visitors can learn about the history, enjoy home made refreshments and see the Huguenot artefacts on display and the current exhibition Bizarre and Curious Silks: Textiles by Hannah Robson which includes textiles inspired by silver from The French Hospital Collection. You can visit the museum and hospital for free as part of Heritage Open Days. Details at huguenotmuseum.org


The model company founded in 1901 is celebrating its return to Margate with its first open day since moving day, and giving away 50 free tickets to the Visitor Centre's historic exhibitions on Saturday, September 14. They can be picked up in person at Driot House in Margate Harbour. at 10am. The Margate School in the old Woolworths Building in Lower High Street will also be showing vintage Hornby films from noon to 4pm.

Hornby is joining in with Heritage Open Days
Hornby is joining in with Heritage Open Days


The Friends Meeting House at 1 Grosvenor Park, Tunbridge Wells, was purpose-built in 1894, and has recently been extensively refurbished. On Saturday, September 14 from 10am to 4pm. There will be short meetings in the day for people to experience the Quakers' worship.


The Old Boat Cafe on the River Medway, Fairmeadow will be holding short talks and tours of the Boatman’s Cabin area of the 1911 traditional horseboat. The floating cafe is something of a hidden gem serving fresh local food and coffee. Owners will be opening up for tours of the cabin and sharing its history from Tuesday, September 17 to Thursday, September 19. The talk and tours are free, pop in or email theoldboatcafe@gmail.com to book. There will be a special canalman’s lunch or cream tea for participants. You can also find more in the area here.


Explore the natural history of the Victorian open space in Park Crescent Road, Margate on Sunday, September15 at 2pm. Visitors can learn about the variety of trees in Dane Park and hear about their stories and what makes them special. The expedition will be led by David Carey of the Kent Tree Wardens and Stephanie Nsom of Colourful Margate who has been fundraising for the cherry trees now planted and the various wood carvings in the parkscape. Meet at the Grade II listed Dane Park Fountain.

Learn about the history of Mote Park in Maidstone
Learn about the history of Mote Park in Maidstone


Join a guided walk to look at the history behind the ancient Maidstone park at 11am and 1pm on Thursday, September 19 and Friday, September 20. Book by emailing annmarielangley@maidstone.gov.uk

The Powell-Cotton Museum will be open
The Powell-Cotton Museum will be open


A great family day out, explore an award-winning world of adventure, and discover more about Asian and African culture with the Victorian family’s extraordinary collection on Saturday, September 14 and Sunday September 15, between 10am and 5pm. Then head outside and enjoy some fresh air and a picnic in the beautiful Quex Gardens.

Billy Byles and Alan Parris will be demonstrating their art at Aylesford Priory
Billy Byles and Alan Parris will be demonstrating their art at Aylesford Priory


The pottery at the Friars at Aylesford Priory, marks 20 years this year since master potters Alan Parris and Billy Bylestook over. For Heritage Open Days, the pottery will be holding say when you can see the potters at work throwing post in their studio and also visit the gallery selling ceramics. The traditional craft of pottery will be on show from Friday, September 13 to Sunday, September 15. It will be open from 10am to 5pm on all three days. There is no need to book. Visit aylesfordpottery.co.uk for details.

To find out what’s going on in the county and for all the latest entertainment news click here.

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