The best way to explore Peterborough's rich heritage

First established in 1994, Heritage Open Days are founded to celebrate diverse culture in England, as part of contribution to the European Heritage Days.

Saturday, 8th September 2018, 4:11 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th September 2018, 5:47 pm
Exterior of Faizan-e-Madina Mosque

The programme in Peterborough is the result of close co-operation between Peterbrough Civic Society, the cathedral, Peterbrough City Council and Vivacity who have encouraged participants to open their doors free of charge. Several of the area’s beautiful churches will be putting on special tours, talks and displays. And this year sees the inclusion for the first time of a mosque, a Hindu temple and a Sikh Gurdwara.

David Jost, Organiser for the Peterborough area explained that this year the event takes place from Thursday 6 September- Sunday 9 September, with a further three events the following weekend.

“Across the country, England’s fascinating heritage is celebrated by thousands of events set up to showcase our fantastic history, architecture and culture. In Peterborough a total of 33 buildings and places will be involved. We are enormously grateful to the owners of buildings who will welcome visitors to explore their premises” said David.

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

While many may believe a heritage festival focuses primarily on the past, there are a number of modern buildings to view. David explains: “In addition to historic buildings there will be examples of modern development such as Viridor’s high tech Energy Recovery Centre, Thomas Cook’s Head Office at Lynch Wood and the award winning Thomas Deacon Academy building.”

There are a range of activities for the whole family to enjoy, with most being free or for a small charge. With a number of events new for 2018 there’s more chances to explore the unknown history of Peterborough. You also have the opportunity to see anything you missed in previous years. Ranging from a behind-the-scenes tour of the Mayor’s Parlour to exploring the Peterborough Energy Recovery Facility; where you can see the science behind your rubbish bin. It would surely be a waste not to!

Highlights from the Peterborough Heritage Open Days include the following:

Cathedral Tower Tours, Peterborough Cathedral, Minster Precincts, PE1 1XS

Thomas Deacon Academy EMN-180315-172327009

Get the best views of Peterborough and a chance to see many hidden spaces and a medieval windlass used in building the cathedral. Tower Top Climbs begin at 11am and 12 noon on Saturday 8 September and last for around 30 minutes. £5 each or £16 for four. Short Tower Tour starts at 1pm on Sunday 9 September, costing £8. There are limited spaces and pre-booking is strongly recommended. Find out more at:

New Remarkable Women Tour. Discover the amazing stories of women commemorated in the cathedral and access the remarkable unseen cathedral library. Tours begin at 11.30am and 2pm on Saturday 8 September and 2pm on Sunday 9 September.

Blue Plaques Trail, Peterborough City Centre, PE1 1XS

A guided tour of what’s behind the blue plaques around Peterborough. Starting at the Cathedral Visitor Centre the tour lasts around 2 hours. Beginning at 2pm on Friday 7 September, the tour gives you the chance to discover the rich history and backgrounds of present buildings, past structures and individuals. To book, call 01733 557135. Booking opens 1 August and closes 20 August.

Norman Cross

Bharat Hindu Samaj (Hindu Temple), Unit 6, New England Complex, Rock Road, PE1 3BY

Visit the shrines of various deities and learn about the Hindu religion and culture. Taking place on Friday 7 September from 9.30am- 12 noon. There is also the unique opportunity to witness the Aarti (a daily ritual) from 9.45am- 10.15am. To book, call 01733 315214. Booking closes 5 September.

Gurdwara Baba Budha Sahib Ji (Sikh Temple), 23 Royce Road, PE1 51Y

Enjoy the chance to learn more about the Sikh culture and religion. A number of scholars are available with information to answer all your un-asked questions on Sikhism. Those interested can visit from 10am-4pm on Saturday 8 September.

Exterior of Key Theatre

Mayor’s Parlour and Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bridge Street, PE1 1HG

Experience a tour of the Mayor’s Parlour and Council chambers. This is an amazing opportunity to see where the mayor resides and to look at the beautiful architecture of the Town Hall’s historic room. Tours start at 11am and 1pm on Saturday 8 September. Maximum number for each tour is 30 people. To book, call 01733 452264.

Norman Cross Art Gallery and Napoleonic Prison Depot Site, London Road, PE7 3TB

Enjoy a re-enactors display of living history with Napoleonic soldies at the first site of the first ever Napoleonic Prison Depot. There are also a number of talks and tours to uncover the rich history of the site. Talks and tours start at 10am and 1.30pm on Saturday 15 September and Sunday 16 September. To book, call 01733 793127. Booking closes on 14 September.

St. Botolph’s Church, Thorpe Road, Longthorpe, PE3 6LU

Normally kept under lock and key, the church is giving you a rare chance to see many old bibles. Discover why and how the clergy dress up and find out more about Alfred Caleb Taylor, the X-Ray pioneer, and his link with Longthorpe. There are a number of other activities for children and refreshments available all day. St Botolph’s will be open from 10am to 3pm on Saturday 15 September and no charge or booking is required.

Key Theatre, Embankment Road, PE1 1EF

Chances are you may have watched a performance at the theatre but have always wondered what happens before and after the curtain falls. Guests can look forward to a personal tour of the theatre including access to behind-the-scenes facilities. Tours start at 12 noon on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 September. To book, call the box office on 01733 207239.

Helpston Village Walk and Display, Botolph Barn, Church Lane, Helpston, PE6 7DT.

Visitors can go on a short walk around the scenic village from the church to Torpel Field, which contains evidence of Torpel Manor. The site is home to important and visually impressive series of medieval and later earthworks. Opposite the church at Botolph Barn there are census records on display together with newspaper archive slide shows and artefacts from recent “House Detective” findings. The display opens from 10am-3pm on Saturday 8 September. Escorted walks start at 11am and 1pm.

Thomas Deacon Academy Queen’s Gardens, PE1 2UW

When it was built, this was the largest single site academy in the UK and was designed by the world renowned architect Norman Foster in 2007. Visitors can learn more about the buildings and grounds in tours which run on an ad hoc basis during the day. Tours start from 9am with the last tour running at 3pm on Saturday 8 September. There will be an information display by the Thomas Deacon Foundation, a charity organisation founded by previous pupils.

Thomas Cook’s Head Office at Peterborough Business Park, Lynch Wood,

PE2 6FZ,

The UK head office is a great example of 1980s’ contemporary architecture, and visitors will receive a “Cook’s Tour” of the building. Guests can enjoy viewing exclusive items from the company’s archives which span the past 177 years. The visit will last no longer than one hour. Tours begin at 11am and 2pm each day from Thursday 6- Sunday 9 September. To book, call 01733 417350.

Thorney Countryside Tour and Village Talk and Tour of Thorney Abbey, Abbey Place, PE6 OQD

There’s plenty going on at Thorney over the second weekend On the first day, Friday 14 September there is a historical talk on the origins of the Fenland village, followed by a tour of the church. The church boasts a rich history dating back thousands of years. Visitors will then see a Victorian model village at the community museum: run by volunteers for over 30 years.

Continuing on Sunday 16 September there is a walking tour of the picturesque Thorney countryside. Take a breath of fresh air and stroll two and a half miles along public footpaths taking in the natural history and the “Thorney River”. It’s important to note while the walk is level, much of the route takes place on unmade paths. The walk begins at 2pm and the meeting point is Thorney Abbey and lasts approximately one and a half hours.

St Leonard’s Priory, Priory Road, Stamford, PE9 2EU

Take in the beautiful Gothic architecture of St Leonard’s Priory and see the arches which remain from the 12th Century. The Grade I listed building is a Scheduled Ancient monument and visitors can hear how the Priory remains were saved from destruction. Visitors can attend on Saturday 8 September and Sunday 9 September between 12noon- 4pm. To book, call 07990587567.

Prebendal Manor, Nassington, Church Street, PE8 6QG

Discover this ancient medieval manor first hand and be in awe of the beautiful grounds and Tithe Barn. The Manor which previously won the Northamptonshire Heritage Award in 2014 is normally only available to groups and weddings. The Grade 1 listed manor was also voted as ‘Britain’s Best Surprise’, so without too many spoilers this is unmissable.

There is an abundant history regarding the manor and Tithe Barn and the archaelogical discoveries found there. Tours start at 2pm and are on the hour until 5pm on Sunday 9 September.

Peterborough Greyhound Stadium, Fengate, PE1 5BP.

Most of Peterborough will have enjoyed a night at the dogs, well here is a chance to enjoy the day there instead. This unique view into the family-run business will show you what happens before the races. There are greyhound trials to watch and a chance to meet the family members. Taking place on Thursday 6 September between 10am- 2pm. To book, call 01733 296939, booking closes on September 3.

St. Andrews Church, Alwalton, PE7 3UU.

Dating from 1179 this church was built on Saxon foundations and is the final resting place of Sir Henry Royce OBE. The medieval church has connections to Frank Perkins, founder of Perkins Engines, Oliver Cromwell and the Fitzwilliam family. Original wall structures are still standing for visitors to see. You can visit on Saturday 8 September from 10am to 4pm, and on Sunday 9 September there is a service from 10.30am- 12 noon.

Pre-booking is strongly recommended for all of the events. Some restrictions may also apply. A free brochure containing full listings of what’s on is available from the Vistor Information Centre, the cathedral or your local library. Alternatively, you can check the Vivacity, cathedral, Civic Society or council websites for more information. Further details for events happening across the country can be found at: