Heritage activities galore as sites open to visitors

Cresswell Tower
Cresswell Tower

An annual celebration of heritage and culture is this year seeing women take centre stage.

The national Heritage Open Days scheme offers exhibitions, talks, walks and the chance to explore historic buildings.

And in Morpeth there will be a particular focus on some of the area’s extraordinary women, with four days of events from Thursday, September 13.

Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, from Longhorsley, drew worldwide attention to her cause after she was fatally injured when struck by the King’s horse as she stepped onto the track at the 1913 Epsom Derby.

Thousands turned out for her funeral procession and she was buried at St Mary’s Churchyard in Morpeth.

Now her story will be told in a display of notable women at Morpeth Town Hall, in a year that marks the centenary of some women being able to vote for the first time in Britain.

Also remembered in the exhibition will be Lady Collingwood, wife of the great Admiral who lived in Oldgate, Morpeth.

And there will be further displays on past local councillors Dorothy Robson and Isobel Smail, who were devoted to serving Morpeth and its residents.

The exhibition will also look at the town’s experiences of the latter stages of World War I, and tell of locally organised pilgrimages to the battlefields of Ypres in 1928.

The Heritage Open Days programme has been co-ordinated by volunteer Barbara Martin for the Greater Morpeth Development Trust.

Other local events include a display of Morpeth’s Past and Present in shop windows and the opportunity to visit and find out more about the town’s St Mary’s, St James’s, St Robert’s and St George’s churches, as well as St Mary Magdalene Church in Mitford, St John’s in Longhirst and St Andrew’s in Bothal.

Collingwood House, former home of Trafalgar hero Admiral Lord Collingwood, will open to visitors, and a Collingwood Society lecture will consider Why Naval Battles Don’t Matter.

There will be various heritage walks, including three in the company of local poets, and there will be a chance to see Morpeth’s treasures with tours of the Mayor’s Parlour and Council Chamber in the Town Hall.

Hands-on activities include bellringing at Morpeth Clock Tower and bowling in Carlisle Park.

Meanwhile, people can explore Bothal Castle and archeological excavations at Cresswell Pele Tower, which is to be restored with a £667,000 Heritage Lottery grant.

For further details of the programme, including times, a leaflet is available from various town centre buildings or online at gmdt.net

Elsewhere, events will take place from today (Thursday) to Sunday, and from September 13-16.

They include Behind The Scenes tours at Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives near Ashington, opportunities to explore Berwick and Hexham, and access to Blyth Battery, the Watch House Museum in Seaton Sluice and the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club in Blyth, as well as Cramlington Masonic Hall and St Cuthbert’s Church in Bedlington.

Visitors can explore Newbiggin by the Sea Rocket House, along with Haltwhistle Railway Station. In Belford there is the chance to visit Ferguson Hall, Belford Hall, Belford Museum and a self-build eco-home.

Other venues taking part include George Stephenson’s birthplace in Wylam, Seaton Delaval Hall, Cherryburn, Cragside and Cragend Farm near Rothbury, and Bailiffgate Museum in Alnwick.

Visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk for full details, dates and times.