Public get to see Peterborough’s hidden wonders

Heritage open days in Peterborough.  Glenys Wass, the collections manager at Peterborough Museum showing visitors artifacts in the vaults. EMN-161109-100043009

Heritage open days in Peterborough. Glenys Wass, the collections manager at Peterborough Museum showing visitors artifacts in the vaults. EMN-161109-100043009

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Peterborough’s hidden wonders were briefly opened to the public last weekend as part of the Heritage Open Days.

History enthusiasts had plenty to keep them entertained on both Saturday and Sunday with more than 20 different events offering chances to explore some of city’s most iconic buildings.

Heritage open days in Peterborough.  Officer Commanding TS Gildenburgh at the Customs House Tass Pitsikas with cadets  Karina Chappell and Kirsty Jauncey at the wheelhouse. EMN-161109-100031009

Heritage open days in Peterborough. Officer Commanding TS Gildenburgh at the Customs House Tass Pitsikas with cadets Karina Chappell and Kirsty Jauncey at the wheelhouse. EMN-161109-100031009

Peterborough Cathedral offered guided tours which proved to be very popular with the public, including its remarkable library which is tucked away above the cathedral’s 14th century porch.

Other offerings included tours of the The Deanery Garden which includes the remains of Peterborough’s castle, and a rare chance to go inside the 15th century Table Hall.

There was also the chance to go inside The King’s Lodgings and see the remains of Peterborough’s medieval prison, the royal apartments and the room above the cathedral gateway.

Stuart Orme, head of operations at the cathedral, said: “We were really pleased that so many people came to visit the cathedral site during Heritage Open Days.

Heritage open days in Peterborough.  Visitors at the library at Peterborough Cathedral EMN-161109-100156009

Heritage open days in Peterborough. Visitors at the library at Peterborough Cathedral EMN-161109-100156009

“Both on Saturday and Sunday people took tours and dropped in to see some hidden spaces, or chatted to the medieval knights camped on the cathedral green.

“Some of the places we opened up had not been accessible to the public for many years, if at all, so it was a great pleasure to show them to such appreciative visitors.

“We have had some very positive feedback on the weekend and would like to thank everyone who came, particularly the people who turned up for the Deanery Garden tours on Saturday when it was pouring with rain!”

There were many other tours outside of the cathedral as well, including one backstage at the Key Theatre and another at the Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery where visitors could explore the unique collection of Napoleonic artwork made by French prisoners of war held at the Norman Cross prison camp.

Heritage open days in Peterborough.  Re-enactors from the Deads of Arms cooking in encampment at Cathedral EMN-161109-100221009

Heritage open days in Peterborough. Re-enactors from the Deads of Arms cooking in encampment at Cathedral EMN-161109-100221009

The Peterborough Museum Garden was also open to the public.

Richard Hunt, director of culture at Vivacity, which manages many of Peterborough’s cultural facilities, said there had been chances to see architecture both medieval and modern.

He added: “We were really delighted with the number of venues which opened this year, possibly the largest ever, and I was really pleased to see such a variety.

“We saw a great number of people going on the tours and having the chance to see things which they do not normally get to see.

Heritage open days in Peterborough. Re-enactors from the Deads of Arms cooking in encampment at Cathedral -  Nicola Hibbard, Susie Baker and Chloe Baker with mayor David Sanders tasting foods. EMN-161109-100209009

Heritage open days in Peterborough. Re-enactors from the Deads of Arms cooking in encampment at Cathedral - Nicola Hibbard, Susie Baker and Chloe Baker with mayor David Sanders tasting foods. EMN-161109-100209009

“There were interesting things like being able to see inside Thomas Deacon Academy where the architecture is quite significant.

“You could go behind the scenes at the Key Theatre which is very rare, and likewise the city’s archives are kept behind lock and key.

“Very few get to see the amazing archives which date back to the medieval age.

“You could also get a guided walk of Milton Park so there was something for everyone.”

Visitors could also go to the Old Custom House in Rivergate, the 16th century building originally used as a toll house for goods transported by river.

There were also a tour of the Mayor’s Parlour, Reception Room and Council Chamber in the Town Hall.

Heritage Open Days was established in 1994 and has since grown into the country’s largest heritage festival. It takes place every year in September.