15 places to visit for free in Norfolk during Heritage Open Days

PUBLISHED: 16:59 07 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:59 07 September 2018

Horsey Windmill Credit: Malcom Bulb/

Horsey Windmill Credit: Malcom Bulb/

(c) copyright

You’re spoilt for choice this September with hundreds of free events and activities taking place across the county.

England’s biggest festival of heritage and culture will take place over two long weekends on September 6 to 9 and 13 to 16.

From an abandoned train station to a secret garden, this is just a selection of places with tickets still available this Thursday to Sunday for the first set of open days.


1. Extraordinary Women: Harriet Martineau

Dragon Hall

September 8, 7pm to 8pm

Hobday, author of Encounters With Harriet Martineau, gives an evening lecture on this extraordinary woman.

Britons Arms on Elm Hill, Norwich.Britons Arms on Elm Hill, Norwich.

Harriet Martineau was a pioneering journalist, radical thinker and citizen of Norwich.

Learn more about her eventful life during this talk.


2. The Britons Arms

Elm Hill

September 6 to 7, 10am/11am

This remarkable building, now a coffee shop and restaurant, dates back to the 14th century.

It is one of the last thatched buildings in the city and is of national importance.

Lord Nelson, in Cathedral Close - written and voiced by Stephen Fry. Photos: Talking Statues / LibraryLord Nelson, in Cathedral Close - written and voiced by Stephen Fry. Photos: Talking Statues / Library

Approximately 30 minutes.


READ MORE: Norfolk’s hidden places prepare to welcome visitors for a celebration of the county’s history

3. The Cathedral of St John the Baptist Twilight Tour

Unthank Road

September 7, 9pm

Visit the highest vantage point overlooking Norwich at twilight. See lights and sights normally only seen from the air.

Approximately 30 minutes.


Former atomic weapons factory which is now Gorse Industrial Estate at Barnham. Owner Keith Eldred. Picture: ANTONY KELLYFormer atomic weapons factory which is now Gorse Industrial Estate at Barnham. Owner Keith Eldred. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

4. Eastern Daily Press tours

Prospect House, Rouen Road

September 7, 11am/1pm/3pm

During the 19th century, three prominent Norwich nonconformists decided to set up a newspaper to rival the Norwich Mercury. So began The Norfolk News.

READ MORE: Journey below the streets of Norwich to discover curious tunnels and hidden undercrofts

By 1861 stamp duty on newspapers was abolished, paving the way for the introduction of a daily newspaper.

The Norfolk News company, with the backing of Jeremiah James Colman, launched the Eastern Counties Daily Press on 10 Oct 1870.

Archant now open their doors to you for a tour of Prospect House led by editor David Powles and head of news Ian Clarke.

Former atomic weapons factory which is now Gorse Industrial Estate at Barnham.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYFormer atomic weapons factory which is now Gorse Industrial Estate at Barnham. Picture: ANTONY KELLY


5. The Bear Shop Garden

Elm Hill

September 6 to 7, 11am to 4.30pm, September 9, 11am to 4pm

Considered to be based on a design by Gertrude Jekyll, this terraced garden behind a 15th century house in the historic Cathedral quarter of Norwich is a hidden treasure. Plants will also be for sale.

READ MORE: Celebrate wonderful Weird Norfolk on Heritage Open Days

6. Talking Statues

From September 8, launch 12pm to 1pm at The Forum

The ruins of the Roman fort at Burgh Castle near Great Yarmouth.
April 2016.

Picture: James BassThe ruins of the Roman fort at Burgh Castle near Great Yarmouth. April 2016. Picture: James Bass

If Norwich’s statues could talk, what stories would they tell? Heritage Open Days 2018 sees the launch of the Talking Statues project around the city. Famous names including Stephen Fry, Olivia Colman and Norwich writers Sarah Perry and Emma Healey have written and lent their voices to bring the statues to life.


7. Former Atomic Weapons Bunker Tours

Gorse Industrial Estate at Barnham

September 8 and 9, 10.30am to 5pm

Visit a scheduled monument to the Cold War, where the atom bombs Blue Danube and Red Beard were maintained.

The tour also includes a voluntary climb up a 25ft watchtower.

The tour lasts approximately three hours.

Pre-book by calling 01842 753149 or email

8. Dad’s Army Museum

The Old Fire Station

September 8, 10am to 4pm

The museum tells the story of this classic television programme, its links with Thetford, where the location shots were filmed and the history of the Home Guard.

READ MORE: Heritage day to be held in Thetford Forest


9. Great Yarmouth Library

Tolhouse Street

September 8, 11am

A unique opportunity to go underground and take part in a guided tour of Great Yarmouth Library basement led by a local expert.

The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes.

Pre-book with Great Yarmouth Library on01493 844551 or email

10. Burgh Castle tour

September 9, 1.30pm and 2.30pm

Discover the fascinating past of one of the best preserved Roman monuments in Britain with one of the volunteer tour guides.

Meet your guide at the interpretation shelter near the main car park.

The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes.

READ MORE: Wymondham gears up for its third annual Vintage Day


11. Felmingham Old Station tour

September 6 to 7, 11am to 3pm

A rare chance to see inside this abandoned station building, which has remained much the way it was inside when the line closed in 1959.

The old railway line and butterfly reserve are free to explore but tours of the station must be pre-booked.

The tour lasts approximately 30 mins.

Pre-book with Mark Webster on 07843 069567 or email

12. Horsey Windpump

September 6 to 9, 10am to 4.30pm

See conservation in action as Horsey Windpump’s sails will soon be turning for turning for the first time in 75 years.

Discover her eventful story and speak to the team involved with her restoration.

13. Waxham Great Barn craft weekend

Coast Road, Waxham

September 8 to 9, 10.30am to 4pm

Explore a magnificent thatched Tudor Barn with local craft demonstrations on Saturday and Craft Fair on Sunday. The barn is also dog friendly.

READ MORE: Full scream ahead as Horror Train rolls into Norfolk this Halloween


14. Forncett Industrial Steam Museum

Kingsmuir, Low Road, Forncett St Mary

September 9, 11am to 3pm

Experience the fascinating story of steam power from the early beginnings in 1698, through the 250 years of the industrial revolution, right up to the steam turbine used today.

15. Wymondham Vintage Day

September 9, 10am to 4pm

Wymondham town steps back in time with its third annual Vintage Day!

Come and enjoy a display of classic cars and motorcycles, take a ride on a vintage bus, join the guided walk around the town or indulge in a proper vintage tea.

Listen to live music in the Market Place and travel by train with the Mid-Norfolk railway between Wymondham and Dereham.

To see the full programme of free events and search in your area visit the Heritage Open Days website

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Small in stature but big in laughs, Tanyalee Davis will be the star at a new comedy night coming to Great Yarmouth.

Friday, November 23, 2018

We know Father Christmas is super busy at this time of year, but thanks to the magic of Christmas he’s still managing to be in several places at once in Norfolk.

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