September signals the once-a-year chance to explore the world on your doorstep, unlocked and completely free of charge.
Today signals the start of Heritage Open Days which celebrates England’s wide array of culture and architecture by offering free access to places that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission.
Every year on four days in September, buildings, visitor attractions and other ‘hidden gems’ of a cultural significance of every age, style and function throw open their doors, for a once-a-year chance to discover architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities that bring local history and culture to life.
Local heritage – some of which you had probably forgotten about or taken for granted, or not even known was there, open and right on your doorstep.
And it goes further as September is a month of open days across Europe.
Heritage Open Days was established in 1994 as England’s contribution to the European Heritage Days, so 2014 marks the 20th anniversary.
The scheme was initiated in 1991 by the Council of Europe to raise appreciation for Europe’s rich and diverse cultural assets and their need for care and protection.
The principle behind it all was to simply throw open the doors to historic monuments and buildings, in particular those normally closed to the public. One of the key requirements was to offer free access to all properties taking part in the European Heritage Days.
In the UK, there are five open day schemes that are part of the wider European Heritage Days scheme across the continent, those being:
- England: Heritage Open Days (11-14 September 2014)
- London: Open House London (20-21 September 2014)
- Scotland: Doors Open Days (every weekend in September)
- Wales: Open Doors (every weekend in September)
- Northern Ireland: European Heritage Open Days (13-14 September 2014)
As travel writer, and Editor and writer for a UK publisher with two magazines that focus on UK tourism (Discover Britain’s Gardens magazine, and Discover Britain for Groups magazine), this is right up my street.
However, the offering on my very own doorstep (Rugby, in Warwickshire) is slightly disappointing.
but for the town which heralds as being the birthplace of the game, one would have thought this would [again] be a great opportunity to capitalise on this unique claim to fame, and offer local and visitors/tourists alike a chance to go behind-the-scenes.
Still, with the Rugby World Cup on these shores next year, you never know…
In the meantime, wherever you are, get out, enjoy and explore what’s on your doorstep whilst you have the chance to.