Discover gems on your doorstep

Morpeth Town Hall.
Morpeth Town Hall.

A free annual festival of local history, culture and architecture is under way.

Heritage Open Days offer people the chance to explore the hidden history on their doorstep, find out more about local treasures, and step back in time on guided trails.

Numerous activities will be taking place across Northumberland for the celebration, with many buildings normally off-limits to the public opening their doors to let people take a peek inside.

Here is what’s in store in this area, running from today and throughout the weekend.

Morpeth

Collingwood House,
 Oldgate.

Capability Brown protrayed at Kirkharle.

Capability Brown protrayed at Kirkharle.

A rare opportunity is offered to see inside the former home of “the Northumbrian who saved the nation”, Admiral Lord Collingwood.

The national naval hero led the British fleet to victory at the Battle of Trafalgar following the death of Nelson.

He wrote how he was happiest when at his home in Morpeth, and would often be seen scattering acorns on the banks of the Wansbeck to grow into oaks for shipbuilding.

Open: Thursday, 1pm to 4pm.

Wallington

Wallington

St Robert of Newminster RC Church, Oldgate.

Sitting beside Collingwood House, the Grade II listed church, dedicated to Morpeth’s own saint Robert of Newminster, has recently been awarded almost £200,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to repair the roof and share its history.

It boasts William Wailes’ stained glass and the Sir Giles Gilbert Scott war memorial.

Visitors will be able to see designs for hidden frescos, on display for the first time, find out why the spire has been covered in scaffolding, and learn more about St Robert.

Volunteer guides will be at hand, and there will be simple activities for toddlers.

Open: Thursday, 1pm to 4pm.

Songs of Collingwood and the Napoleonic Era, Morpeth Town Hall.

Join Pete Wood, founder of The Keelers, for an evening of musical entertainment.

There will be period songs and historical research on show, courtesy of The Collingwood Society.

Performance: Thursday, 7.30pm.

Morpeth Railway Station Exhibition, Morpeth Railway Station, Coopies Lane.

See a small display on the history of the Grade II listed Victorian station, which was designed by North East architect Benjamin Green.

People will also be able to find out about regeneration plans for the facility.

Open: Thursday and Friday, 8am to noon.

Town Treasures, Morpeth Town Hall.

Step inside the Mayor’s Parlour and Council Chamber to see some of Morpeth’s magnificent town treasures.

They include the silver mace from 1604, the oldest working civic mace in the country, cannon balls from the siege of Morpeth Castle in 1644, the Town Hutch, dating back to 1513, and the scold’s bridle.

The Town Hall itself was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, whose other commissions included Blenheim Palace, Castle Howard and Seaton Delaval Hall.

Open: Thursday, 2pm to 4pm.

Morpeth Antiquarian Society First World War Mini Display, Morpeth Town Hall.

Visitors can see artefacts from the trenches, wartime postcards and even “trench cake”, made from a recipe from the time.

The display is in the Butter Market.

Open: Thursday and Friday, 9am to 4.30pm.

Church of St James The Great, St James’ Terrace.

This Victorian church was designed by Benjamin Ferrey, an apprentice to Augustus Pugin, and is based on the style of the Cathedral of Monreale in Sicily.

Features include impressive apse paintings and a fine Minton tiled floor.

Information leaflets will be available, and guide books and handmade cards can be bought.

Complimentary refreshments will be served.

Open: Thursday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm.

Church of St Mary the 
Virgin, St Mary’s Field.

A true historic gem, this is the oldest church in the parish and is one of the best preserved medieval churches in Northumberland.

Take in the 14th Century Jesse window and the 19th Century Watch House, which was installed to guard against grave robbers.

There will be small exhibitions on Suffragette Emily Wilding Davion, who is buried in the churchyard, and Women In Stained Glass, as well as stained glass and children’s trails.

Light refreshments will be served.

Open: Thursday to Sunday, 10am to 3pm.

Sing and Dance for King and Country, The Chantry, Bridge Street.

Rachael Hales presents an audio-visual installation exploring the experiences of local people during the First World War.

It considers local folk traditions and practices, including rapper dancing, clog dancing and folksong.

Performance: Friday, 3pm.

Clock Tower Tours and Bell Ringing, Morpeth Clock Tower.

Housing the oldest peal of civic bells in the country, the Clock Tower has a varied history and was once used as the town’s lock-up.

The Clock Tower Bellringers, who still keep up the daily curfew bell and ring out for various civic events, will offer tours of the building and the chance to try your hand at ringing the bells.

There is restricted access, with a maximum of 12 people per session, so booking is advised. It is not suitable for children under the age of six.

Open: Saturday, 1.30pm, 2.15pm and 3pm.

Book on 01670 503866.

First World War Heritage Exhibition, Morpeth Town Hall.

The exhibition is the culmination of a Heritage Lottery Funded project between King Edward VI School and Morpeth Antiquarian Society.

Staged in the Corn Exchange, it will look at the stories behind the school’s war memorial.

There will also be displays on Morpeth and the war, including research by Collingwood School into war graves in St Mary’s Churchyard.

Open: Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 4pm.

Old Bakehouse 
Millennium Green, Old Bakehouse Yard, behind Newgate Street.

People are invited along to Morpeth’s “secret garden” to find out about the original Roger de Merlay burgage plot from 1239.

They can discover Morpeth’s ancient town layout and view old maps and charters.

There will be freshly baked drop scones and refreshments.

Event: Sunday, 11am to 2pm.

The Green is open daily during daylight hours.

St George’s United Reformed Church, Bridge Street.

Local musicians will perform throughout the open day, with pieces to suit all tastes.

Open: Saturday, 10am to 4pm.

Woodhorn Matters Mat-making Demonstration, Morpeth Methodist Church, Howard Terrace.

Members of the craft group will be showing their skills at traditional hooky and proggy mat-making. There will also be a small exhibition of their work.

Open: Sunday, 12.30pm to 3.30pm.

Newminster Abbey Walk, Mitford Road.

Archaeologist Barry Mead will lead a tour of the ruins of the 12th Century Cistercian abbey, founded by St Robert of Newminster.

Places are limited to 12 so booking is essential. People are advised to wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

Runs: Sunday, 2pm to 3.30pm.

Book on 07986 018242.

Bothal

St Andrew’s Church, 
Bothal Village.

This church is known for its fine collection of medieval stained glass, considered to be the best in Northumberland.

There will be local crafts, gifts and guide books to buy, and a children’s quiz.

The Morpeth Waites will perform between 2pm and 3pm on Saturday, and guided tours of the church and nearby grounds of Bothal Castle will be offered on Sunday.

Open: Thursday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm.

Cresswell

Cresswell Curiosities Walk, Cresswell Ices.

Join this historical walk of Cresswell with archaeologist Barry Mead, including access to the 15th Century Pele Tower.

Children must be accompanied by an adult and people are advised to wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

Runs: Saturday, 2pm to 3.30pm.

Kirkharle

Courtyard, Lake and St Wilfrid’s Church.

See the birthplace of landscape architect Capability Brown.

Visitors can step inside the church where he was baptised and walk around the lake inspired by Brown’s original plans.

Guides will be on hand to talk about the great man, and children’s activity sheets will be available.

Open: Friday and Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

Longhorsley

Longhorsley Village Hall, Drummonds Close.

Visit the hall and see the Millennium embroidered wall hanging depicting Longhorsley village and some of its characters.

There is also a hooky mat celebrating Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who lived in the village with her mother.

There will be a small display of photographs and historic documents, a village trail around some of the oldest parts of the area, stalls and refreshments.

Open: Friday, 2pm to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 4pm.

St Mary Magdalene Church, Stable Green.

This Grade II listed church sits opposite the ruins of Mitford Castle and houses what is thought to be the oldest church bell in the country.

Open: Thursday and Friday, 2pm to 4pm, Saturday, 10am to 4pm, Sunday, noon to 4pm.

Wallington

Wallington 
Estate, Cambo.

Discover the home of the Trevelyan family, with its huge pre-Raphaelite paintings, beautiful furniture, family pictures and treasured collections.

The house is surrounded by informal landscaped lawns, lakes, woodland, parkland and farmland, all available to be explored. There is also a walled garden hidden in the woods.

Open free: Saturday, 10.30am to 5pm.

Wallington is run by the National Trust, with admission charges at other times.

Mitford

Mitford Heritage Walk, The Plough Inn.

Take a guided walk around the village, including Mitford Castle and the private grounds of Mitford Manor and Mitford Hall.

The walk is four miles long, with a two-mile option. It can be muddy and people are advised to wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

Runs: Thursday, 1pm.

Other Heritage Open 
Days events in 
Northumberland are as follows. See www.heritageopendays.org.uk for details.

Allenheads: The Blacksmith’s Shop.

Alnwick: Bailiffgate 
Museum and Gallery.

Ashington: Woodhorn Musuem: Poppies — Weeping Window.

Bedlington: St Cuthbert’s Church.

Belford: Belford Hall; Belford Hidden History Museum Open Day; Ecological Self-Build House.

Berwick-upon-Tweed: Archaeology and Artichokes; Bank Hill Icehouse; Berwick Baptist Church; Berwick Castle Tour; Berwick Community Wind Turbine; Berwick Museum and Art Gallery; Castle Vale Park; Church of St Bartholomew and St Boisil; Fishing and Fertiliser; From Ditch to Bastion; Georgian Berwick; Greenses Arabs and Fish Tales; Gunpowder Magazine; Holy Trinity Church; King’s Own Scottish Borderers Regimental Museum; Main Guard; Northstar; Old Coastguard Station; Palace Green Pavilion; Sandstell Fishing Shiel; St Andrew’s Church; The Masonic Hall, The Old Gaol; The Tower Tour; Union Chain Bridge.

Biddlestone: Biddlestone RC Chapel.

Blyth: Blyth Battery; Blyth Masonic Buildings; Royal Northumberland Yacht Club; St Cuthbert’s Parish Church; Tall Ship Project Open Days.

Branxton: Flodden Battlefield Walk.

Corbridge: Dilston 
Physic Garden.

Felton: St Oswald’s Way 
Circular Walk.

Hexham: A Night At The Cinema; Allendale Caravan Park Tour Of Old Railway Station; Core Music Ucorelele Project; Forum Cinema Heritage Exhibition and Project; Forum Cinema Projection Room Tours; Halls of Coquetdale Heritage Walk; Hexham Abbey; Hexham House of Correction; Hexham House of Correction Walk; Hexham Moothall, Law, Liberty, Rights and Responsibilities.

Holy Island: Lindisfarne Castle.

Kielder: Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre.

Norham: The Stories Behind The Windows In Norham Church.

Rothbury: Cragside House and Gardens.

Seaton Delaval: Seaton Delaval Hall.

Seaton Sluice: Roberts’ Battery World War I Structures; Visit To Watch House Museum.

Stocksfield: Cherryburn.

Woodhorn Village: St Mary’s Church.

Wooler: Homildon Hill Battlefield Walk; Kirknewton Village Hall Bob Fraser Exhibition, Heritage Films.