Heritage Open Days celebrated across Essex

Civic societies, community groups, councils, museums and churches across Essex are throwing open their doors (virtually, in some cases) as part of Heritage Open Days 2020, taking place from September 11th – 20th.

In addition to the usual focus on remarkable buildings, this year there is a theme of ‘Hidden Nature’, so there are a lot of events to encourage you into the great outdoors to discover spaces and places that might often be forgotten.

Many of the events this year are ‘virtual’ and being held online, so you can take a virtual tour of an amazing place outside (or within) your local area from the comfort of your own home.

Every event taking place across the county are listed by date below. Scroll to the very bottom to see events and activities that span the whole 10 days of the festival, including a selection of historic churches to visit.

Friday 11th

Chelmsford

Marconi Celebration – Virtual Walk
A unique video looking at the Marconi story from a Chelmsford perspective.
Enduring Legacies: Three Pioneering Women
Online talk. Dr Viv Newman, brings to life in a humorous and informative way the stories of three pioneering women.

Saturday 12th

Maldon

Maldon Museum in the Park
Visit this delightful museum nestled in the Promenade Park between 1pm and 4pm.
Museum of Power, Maldon
Visit the museum, which is housed in a former water pumping station. The museum and model village will be open 10am-3pm.
Thomas Plume’s Library, Maldon
Visitors can view Dr Thomas Plume’s collection of books kept on their original shelves and a small collection of paintings by booked appointment 10am – 4pm.
The Moot Hall, Maldon
Medieval Brick Tower with rare brick newel staircase. Court Room, Council Chamber, Prison Yard and 360 degree panoramic views over River Blackwater from the roof. Stewards will be on every floor to explain the features & history of the building. Open 10am to 4pm.

Harwich

Redoubt Fort, Harwich
This impressive circular fort was built in 1808 to defend Harwich against invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte. Visit between 10am and 3pm.

Halstead

Colne Valley Postal History Museum, Halstead
Great private museum of all things Postal and GPO related in suburban garden! Pre-booking preferred, open 10am to 4pm.

Colchester

Colchester’s Street of Tombs Exhibition
Learn about the current excavations at the front of the Essex County Hospital and to complete your visit why not join guides at the chariot-racing arena’s starting gates to find out about Britannia’s only known Roman Circus, the chaos and the crashes! Booking required.

Chelmsford

Springfield Bronze Age Enclosure Tour
A fantastic opportunity to explore one of the forgotten gems of Chelmsford’s history.
Military Vehicles Guided Tour
A film tour of the Essex Historic Military Vehicle Association storage and restoration location.

Sunday 13th

Maldon

Friary Walled Garden, Maldon
Visit this historic garden hidden in Maldon’s town centre between 10am and 4pm.
Maldon Museum in the Park
Visit this delightful museum nestled in the Promenade Park between 1pm and 4pm.
Maldon Quaker Meeting House
Enjoy the peace of the grounds or visit the Georgian House. A local Meeting member will be happy to show you around. Open 12pm to 3pm.
Museum of Power, Maldon
Visit the museum, which is housed in a former water pumping station. The museum and model village will be open 10am-3pm.
The Moot Hall, Maldon
Medieval Brick Tower with rare brick newel staircase. Court Room, Council Chamber, Prison Yard and 360 degree panoramic views over River Blackwater from the roof. Stewards will be on every floor to explain the features & history of the building. Open 10am to 4pm.

Chelmsford

Portraits of the Past – Judge Tindal
Chelmsford Creative Collective invites all artists to join in with an online collaborative portrait project.
Chelmsford War Memories
Chelmsford residents speak on film about their personal memories of World War Two.
Springfield Bronze Age Enclosure Tour
A fantastic opportunity to explore one of the forgotten gems of Chelmsford’s history.
Heritage Drawing Trail
Join Drink and Draw Chelmsford on a drawing crawl of some of the lovely landmarks of Chelmsford.

Harwich

Redoubt Fort, Harwich
This impressive circular fort was built in 1808 to defend Harwich against invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte. Visit between 10am and 3pm.

Harlow

The Gibberd Garden, Marsh Lane , Harlow
Visit The Gibberd Garden, which has featured on BBC’s “Hidden Gardens” programme and has been called Harlow’s “hidden jewel”. The garden will be open from 2-5pm (last entry 4pm).

Halstead

Colne Valley Postal History Museum, Halstead
Great private museum of all things Postal and GPO related in suburban garden! Pre-booking preferred, open 10am to 4pm.

Colchester

Colchester’s Street of Tombs Exhibition
Learn about the current excavations at the front of the Essex County Hospital and to complete your visit why not join guides at the chariot-racing arena’s starting gates to find out about Britannia’s only known Roman Circus, the chaos and the crashes! Booking required.

Monday 14th

Chelmsford

Mayoral Parlour – Virtual Tour
Meet the mayor (virtually) and take a peek behind the scenes at the Civic Centre.

Tuesday 15th

Chelmsford

On Air – Chelmsford’s Global Experiment
Find out about Chelmsford’s part in a global radio experiment 100 years ago and discover the stories of the brilliant people behind it.
Galleywood Heritage Centre Walk
A guided historical walk around Galleywood Common with stops at various points of interest.
Heritage Triangle Zoom Talk
A presentation on three local famous buildings with Malcolm Noble Chairman of Chelmsford Civic Society.

Colchester

St Leonard-at-the-Hythe Church, Colchester
Traces of the English Civil War – download the free guidebook and visit between 12pm and 2pm.

Braintree

Family history day – The Congregational Chapel, Stambourne
A chance to research your family history online via Zoom with a researcher from the chapel.

Wednesday 16th

Chelmsford

Within These Walls: A Virtual Tour of the Non-Conformist Cemetery
A Virtual Tour of Chelmsford’s Non-Conformist Cemetery.

Thursday 17th

Chelmsford

The ‘Hidden Nature’ in Danbury Churchyard
A virtual guided tour of Danbury Churchyard with two of our experts on local nature.

Friday 18th

Chelmsford

Hidden Nature: Free Art Friday
Explore Central Park to find art, poetry, paintings and more that you can take home. You can also leave art for others!
Sandford Mill Nature Reserve Virtual Tour
A special guided tour of this reserve which is only open on very few occasions.
The Marconi Company and The Battle of Britain
An online talk hosted by a retired member of the Marconi Community who has extensive knowledge on the topic.

Saturday 19th

Chelmsford

Springfield Bronze Age Enclosure Tour
A fantastic opportunity to explore one of the forgotten gems of Chelmsford’s history.
Chelmsford Cathedral Virtual Tour
A filmed tour of this most important local building, led by the Dean of Chelmsford Cathedral.
Hidden Writtle University College Walk and Draw
A walk through the grounds of Writtle University College, stopping to draw at various points.

Colchester

Wivenhoe Pub Trail
A self-guided walk around the twenty-four current and former pubs in Wivenhoe, some of which date back to the 18th century. 9:30am to 5:30pm.

Sunday 20th

Chelmsford

Portraits of the Past – Anne Knight
Chelmsford Creative Collective invites all artists to join in with an online collaborative portrait project.
Springfield Bronze Age Enclosure Tour
A fantastic opportunity to explore one of the forgotten gems of Chelmsford’s history.
Hylands House Virtual Tour
Tour this special historical house online, as we reveal the secrets behind its history.

Colchester

Wivenhoe Pub Trail
A self-guided walk around the twenty-four current and former pubs in Wivenhoe, some of which date back to the 18th century. 10am to 4pm.

Things to do at any time: September 11th – 20th

Colchester

Costumed Virtual Tours of Colchester
These virtual tours explore two periods of Colchester’s amazing history – the Roman city and the Civil War Siege of 1648. Both are given by entertaining and knowledgeable town guides in costumes of the period.
Roman Theatre, Colchester
The theatre site was discovered in 1981 during excavations by the Colchester Archaeological Trust and now in the care of Colchester and Ipswich Museums. A short film has been made specially for Heritage Open Days.
Holy Trinity Church, Colchester
Holy Trinity is the oldest standing building in Colchester, predating the Norman castle by three-quarters of a century. A short film has been specially made for Heritage Open Days this year.

Chelmsford

Manifesto For Essex Exhibition
Exhibition across multiple venues in the high street. Click the link to learn how you can contribute Earth Poems and Bunting on the theme of climate change.
City Centre Scavenger Hunt
A self-guided real history discovery trail for detectives of all ages.
Marconi Celebration – Walk n Talk Tour
Stream the audio of the tour on your device and walk the tour at your own pace at any time during the festival and beyond.

Maldon

The Maeldune Heritage Centre, Maldon
Various displays, exhibitions and talks celebrating Maldon’s history and heritage. 11th-19th, 11am to 4pm.

Churches across Essex to visit

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Stansted Mountfitchet
Download the free guidebook and visit this peaceful medieval church any day of the festival between 11am and 3pm.

Holy Trinity Church, Halstead
Download the free guidebook and visit this church built by Victorian architect Sir Gilbert Scott any day of the festival between 11am and 3pm.

St Mary’s Church, Chickney
Download the free guidebook and visit this atmospheric and remote pre-Conquest church any day of the festival between 10am and 4pm.

St Michael’s Church, Berechurch
Download the free guidebook and visit this early sixteenth-century Tudor brick addition to the former church of St Michael any day of the festival between 10am and 4pm.

St Mary’s Church, West Bergholt
A harmonious jumble of centuries past – download the free guidebook and visit any day of the festival 10am to 4pm.

St Nicolas Church, Witham – Glimpses Through the Year
A digital tour video of the beautiful Grade I listed church will be available at the Witham Parish Church Facebook page on the 11th.