Abbey ruins, Royal burials and medieval paintings - Heritage Open Days across Peterborough

It is the second and final weekend of Heritage Open Days 2021 - 17-19 October - and there are a number of fascinating places to visit, some for the first time in the Peterborough area.

Saturday, 18th September 2021, 5:23 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 2:48 pm
Heritage Open Days - Crowland Abbey.

St Pegas Church and medieval wallpaintings, Peakirk

The most striking feature of St Pegas Church is its extensive 14th century wallpaintings, including a passion sequence and a St Christopher, as well as two lively morality paintings. The smaller (and rarer) of these depicts two women enjoying a good gossip, encouraged by a devil pushing their heads together, while a larger painting depicts the story of the three living and the three dead, illustrating the transience of life and the meaninglessness of material pleasure.

Event Times: Saturday 18 September from 12.00 - 16.00; and Sunday 19 September from 12.00 - 16.00

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Heritage Open Days - Fotheringhay Church EMN-140509-101759001

Crowland Abbey

Originally a Benedictine monastery, the current building dates from 1170.

A wealthy abbey due to income from pilgrims to the shrine of St Guthlac, the building was surrendered to the king at the dissolution. Dissolved and partially demolished in 1539.

In 1643 Crowland was a royalist town with Cromwellians in Spalding and Peterborough. Crowlanders kidnapped the Rev Ramm from Spalding, 
resulting in a siege.

Event Times: Friday 17 September from 11:00 - 16:00; Sunday 19 September from 13:00 - 16:00

Church of St Mary and All Saints, Fotheringhay

Set alongside the River Nene, Fotheringhay Church has a superb octagonal lantern tower. In addition to being an important place of worship, it has numerous and notable links with history. Guide books available.

From the time of the Normans to the advent of the Stuarts, it was directly linked to the royal families of both Scotland and England. Here a future king of England, Richard III, who would die on Bosworth Field, was born; here a queen of Scotland, Mary, Queen of Scots, accused of murdering her husband and plotting the destruction of Queen Elizabeth, was publicly executed.

Here a royal duke, killed fighting the French in battle at Agincourt in 1415, was buried; here too a royal duke and his son killed in battle nearer home, at Wakefield in Yorkshire, were re-buried. Here an English King, Edward IV, plotted and failed to replace the king of Scotland with his brother, just as his own brother, The Duke of Clarence, had plotted against him.

Meanwhile, the church in Fotheringhay deformed but defiant stands testament to the destruction wrought by Henry VIII’s Reformation.

Event Times: Saturday 18 September from 09:30 - 17:00. Pre-booking required at [email protected]

St Andrew’s, Woodwalton

A spectacular church glimpsed by hundreds from the East Coast train-line each day, but a church few have seen inside...

In terms of architectural history, the tower dates largely from the reconstruction of 1860, but substantial areas of the shell and much of the interior are medieval. A particularly striking feature of the interior is the disparity between the South arcade which is early English in date and the North arcade which is distinctively perpendicular in its use of shields on the capitals. Contents include a collection of early stone coffin lids and fine neo-classical monuments in the chancel.

Event Times: Sunday 19 September from 14:00 - 17:00.

St John the Baptist Church

St John’s is situated in a prominent position in the heart of Peterborough’s Cathedral Square and is an iconic feature of the city centre.

It has been a living heritage of faith serving the people of the city since 1407.

Event Times: Friday 17 September from 09:00 - 14:00; Saturday 18 September from 09:00 - 17:00; and Sunday 19 September from 12:30 - 16:00

St Michael & All Angels, Sutton

Discover this parish church, also used as a community meeting place, in a beautiful setting close to the River Nene at Sutton.

St Michael & All Angels was built in the 12th century as a chapel-of-ease to St Kyneburgha, Castor, for the benefit of the villagers of Sutton and to serve the Peterborough Abbey Grange Farm and Manor in the village. The church was enlarged c1170 when the original South wall was removed, the two Norman arches erected and the South aisle added. The Chantry Chapel (which now contains the vestry and organ) added about 1225 was originally dedicated to St Giles, the patron saint of lepers and cripples.

Event Times: Sunday 19 September from 12:00 - 16:00

St John the Baptist, Achurch

Explore this beautiful church at Achurch near Oundle, dating from the 13th century. Join a guided tour or use the self-guided leaflet to explore at your own pace. For children there is a free trail available.

The church of St John the Baptist stands on the Nene Way, a short distance from the village of Achurch. Traditionally, its foundation is linked to the De Waterville family, lords of the manor, who are said to have built the church as a thanksgiving for a safe return from crusade.

The Rev. Robert Browne, a controversial figure linked to the foundation of the non-conformist movement, was rector for 40 years.

Later becoming the church for the Lilford estate, it houses monuments from Lilford church which was demolished in the 18th century, including some well preserved 17th century memorial tablets.

Event Times: September 18/19 from 10:00 - 16:00 for guided tours on request or self-guided tours all day;

Peterborough Cathedral

Discover Peterborough Cathedral and the One Small Step artwork.

Event Times: Friday, September 17 – open 9am to 1pm; closed Saturday; Sunday, September 19, 12 noon to 3pm.