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Kent Heritage Open Days 2018: ideas to try and places to explore

By Angela Cole

There’s a second helping of Heritage Open Days this weekend, as the festival of heritage and culture is also being held from Thursday, September 13 to Sunday, September 16. Here's some highlights from across the county to try...

THE AGRICULTURAL MUSEUM, BROOK, ASHFORD

The museum of agricultural history, which is housed in a 14th century barn, will be open on Friday, September 14 to Sunday, September 16. The collection of the county’s agricultural history is laid out in order of the farming year. There is no need to book.

Enjoy some rural pastimes Picture: National Trust
Enjoy some rural pastimes Picture: National Trust

BARSLEYS STORE, PADDOCK WOOD

Besides selling Mascalls School uniform, Barsleys department store in Commercial Road has 127 years of history behind it. A family-run store, it was founded by Charles Barsley in 1891. There will be a chance to see a display of the archives from Thursday, September 13 to Saturday, September 15 between 9am and 5.30pm.

The partly open front door at Chartwell, the home of Sir Winston Churchill, with Jock the cat sitting in the sunshine Picture: National Trust Images, Rupert Truman
The partly open front door at Chartwell, the home of Sir Winston Churchill, with Jock the cat sitting in the sunshine Picture: National Trust Images, Rupert Truman

CHARTWELL GARDEN & STUDIO, WESTERHAM

The family home of Winston Churchill will invite visitors into the private world of one of Britain’s greatest leaders for this year’s open days this weekend on Saturday, September 15. You can see the lakes he created, the kitchen garden and the Marycot, a playhouse designed for his youngest daughter Mary. The woodland estate offers family walks, trails, den building, swings and a treehouse, which opened to the public last week. Visit between 11am and 3.50pm, with the studio open from noon to 4pm. There are steps and steep slopes in the grounds. If you’re lucky you may see Jock the cat.

The new Chartwell Treehouse
The new Chartwell Treehouse

DROIT HOUSE, THANET VISITOR CENTRE

An exhibition Stone Pier, Margate, will explore some of the characters behind Margate’s Shell Ladies, as part of Extraordinary Women, from Thursday, September 13 to Sunday, September 16 from 10am to 5pm. The Trust for Thanet Archaeology will also be displaying on the Sunday.

Sculpture of Mrs Booth the Shell Lady at Margate
Sculpture of Mrs Booth the Shell Lady at Margate

EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN, WHITSTABLE MUSEUM

An exhibition about Extraordinary Women from Whitstable, including Suffragettes, will be at the Oxford Street museum from Thursday, September 13 to Saturday, September 15.

Rosie Duffield MP with Whitstable Museum's Brian Hitchin and Peter Banbury at the opening of the Extraordinary Women of Whitstable exhibition Picture: Chris Davey
Rosie Duffield MP with Whitstable Museum's Brian Hitchin and Peter Banbury at the opening of the Extraordinary Women of Whitstable exhibition Picture: Chris Davey

HUGUENOT MUSEUM, ROCHESTER

Marking its 300th anniversary this year, the museum will hold Huguenot Day for free on Saturday, September 15 between 10am and 5pm. There will be a tour behind closed doors to discover its history, see the private Huguenots’ Garden, featuring plants that would have been known to Huguenots in the 17th century. One in six English people may have Huguenot ancestry - learn how to trace your family tree. Last admission is 3.30pm, with tours being timed. Find out more at huguenotmuseum.org

KENT MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE, DEAL

The relatively new museum in Stanhope Road, Deal, explores the history of the moving image from the days of candle-lit magic lantern performances and hand-painted slides, through Victorian visual experimentation, to the advent and heyday of cinema. There are exhibitions, retrospectives and historic Vinten cameras on show. The museum will be open on Saturday, September 15 and Sunday, September 16 between noon and 6pm both days. No booking is required.

ROYAL MARINES HERITAGE WALK, DEAL

Learn more about the Royal Marines’ long association with the area on a guided heritage walk starting from near Deal Castle on Sunday, September 16 at 11am. The walk will take in historic buildings, some places which the public cannot usually access, and takes in 2.5 miles over around two hours. It starts by the Captain’s Garden over the road from the castle entrance and finishes there. No booking is required.

Deal Castle Picture: Paul Amos
Deal Castle Picture: Paul Amos

ST MARY’S ABBEY, WEST MALLING

The Abbey in Swan Street was founded in 1090 for Benedictine nuns and is now home to a community of Anglican nuns, but is rarely open to the public. This weekend you can see medieval buildings, the Grade II listed church and the 13th century cloister on the tour on Saturday, September 15 and Sunday, September 16 at 2pm and 2.20pm. Pre-booking is needed, contact Tonbridge Castle Tourist Information Centre on 01732 770929.

A waterfall running out of St Mary's Abbey in West Malling. Picture: John Westhrop
A waterfall running out of St Mary's Abbey in West Malling. Picture: John Westhrop

THEATRE ROYAL, MARGATE

Explore behind the scenes at the theatre in Addington Street for free as part of Heritage Open Days on Saturday, September 15. Go mermaid spotting, check out the view from the Gods and soak up the historic atmosphere at the second oldest working theatre in the UK, between 1pm and 5pm. There is no need to book.

Heritage Open Days, which are free, are funded by the National Trust and the Postcode Lottery. For more details and to search for other events near you, go to heritageopendays.org.uk

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