Lancashire’s rich heritage is yours to explore for free

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We are incredibly fortunate in Lancashire. Not only do we have some marvellous countryside, but also stunning stretches of coastline and heritage-rich towns and cities.

Now, all we have to do is pledge to make the most of what we have on our doorstep, and what better chance is there than the annual Heritage Open Days.

Views inside and outside Lancaster Castle former prison.'Lancaster Priory

Views inside and outside Lancaster Castle former prison.'Lancaster Priory

This runs over four days next month – from September 11 to 14 – and offers people a chance to visit free of charge some of the buildings that normally either charge an entrance fee or which are not open to the public.

Read on to find out about some of the buildings that are taking part so you can plan at least one visit to somewhere you might never otherwise go.

Lancaster Maritime Museum, St George’s Quay, Lancaster

Overlooking the river Lune and the Georgian architecture of St George’s Quay sits Lancaster Maritime Museum. The museum is housed in the Port of Lancaster Custom House and warehouse buildings, which date from the second half of the 18th century.
The former Custom House of 1764, designed by Richard Gillow, contains displays on the history of the Port of Lancaster and the local fishing industry and the adjacent warehouse houses focuses on the Lancaster Canal and the ecology of Morecambe Bay
Several preserved vessels are also displayed, including ‘Sir William Priestley’ and ‘Coronation Rose’. 

Open: Sunday, September 14: 11am - 5pm

The Priory, Roman Bath House and Wery Wall, St Mary’s Parade, Priory Close, Lancaster

The 15th century priory holds Viking ornaments, crusaders’ coffins and part of a Jacobean ‘three-decker’ pulpit. There are carved choir stalls with their misericords, which are nationally famous, making it one of the most frequently visited parish churches in the North West.

Close by you will find the remains of the Roman Bath House and Wery Wall, which formed a fort wall – probably dating from the fourth century. As a bonus, the priory has magnificent views across the city and Morecambe Bay.

Open: Thursday, September 11 to Sunday, September 14:10am - 4pm

Chapel of the King’s Own Royal Regiment, The Priory Church of St Mary, Lancaster, Church Street, Lancaster

The Regimental Chapel of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment was built as a memorial to the fallen soldiers of the South African War (1899-1902). The Chapel is an extension to Lancaster Priory Church and, over the years, has expanded so it is now also a memorial to the King’s Own Royal Regiment, its soldiers and history. Around the walls are memorials to soldiers and suspended from the roof is the largest collection of regimental colours under a single roof. Join curator Peter Donnelly in a guided tour of the Regimental Chapel to discover more. Event not suitable for children under 13.

Open: Friday, September 12: Tours 10.30am, 1.30pm & 3.30pm

Judges Lodgings, Church Street, Lancaster

Built in the centre of Lancaster against the backdrop of Lancaster Castle and Lancaster Priory this elegant, Grade I listed building is Lancaster’s oldest town house. The house was originally home to Thomas Covell, Keeper of Lancaster Castle and notorious witch hunter.

Between 1776 and 1975 the house became an impressive residence for judges visiting the Assize Court at nearby Lancaster Castle.The museum is now home to a renowned collection of Gillow furniture.

l As part of National Carers Day on the Sunday, advisors will be on hand to talk to visitors about dementia and encourage sufferers and their carers to make use of museums and galleries.

Open: Saturday and Sunday, September 13 and 14: 
noon – 4pm

The Storey Gardens, Castle Park, Lancaster

The Storey Gardens in the centre of Lancaster have been closed to the public for several years. There is a magnificent copper beech in the first garden plus a large insect house and various self-seeded trees. In the second garden there is the remains of the art work The Tasting Garden by Mark Dion. This is surrounded by a flowering border, heritage fruit trees, herb garden and soft fruit trees.

Open: Saturday, September 13: noon - 4pm

University of Cumbria , Lancaster Campus, Bowerham Road, Lancaster

The university is inviting the public to take a tour behind the scenes to discover some fascinating artworks and hear the stories behind them. These seldom-seen artistic treasures include a large-scale painting by acclaimed ‘kitchen sink’ artist John Bratby in St Martin’s Chapel and a maquette (scale model) by Barbara Hepworth for her Winged Figure of 1962 on the John Lewis store in London’s Oxford Street. Children must be over age of six. Meet at University of Cumbria’s Bowerham Road campus, outside the chapel.

St Thomas and St Elizabeth RC Church, Thurnham, Lancaster

This Catholic church was built in 1848 on a private estate. It houses a collection of vestments and church silver, including Pugin monstrance, and a processional cross believed to be from Cockersand Abbey as well as windows by William Wailes. The grounds contain the Gillow family mausoleum (pictured) and a stone cross from the abbey.

The chancel arch painting is by Henry Doyle, who was uncle to Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Open: Friday, September 12 to Sunday, September 14: 10am -16pm

Whalley Abbey, The Sands, Whalley, Clitheroe

The Cistercian Abbey of Stanlow, in Cheshire, moved to Whalley in 1296 and the church was built between 1330 and 1380, with the Abbot’s lodging and infirmary completed in about 1440. After the dissolution of the Monastery in 1537, the property passed into private hands and it remained a private residence until 1923, when the Church of England acquired it.

Open: Thursday, September 11 to Sunday, September 14: 9am -6pm

Ruskin Library, Lancaster 
University, Lancaster

The gallery and the reading room will be open to the public to view the exhibition, ‘This Mountain Paradise’: Ruskin on the Continent, 1835.

Open: Thursday, September 11 and Friday, September 12: 10am- 4pm