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National Trust presents Heritage Open Days with ‘Astounding Inventions’

England’s largest festival of history and culture, Heritage Open Days is back this 9-18 September. Presented by the National Trust, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and run by thousands of local organisations and volunteers, Heritage Open Days (HODs) gives everyone free access to experiences and events across England.  

Each year places across the country, including select National Trusts sites near you, throw open their doors and give people the chance to see hidden places and try new experiences for free.

This year, many events will adopt this year’s theme ‘Astounding Inventions’, offering a celebration of cutting-edge creations that make our lives easier, and the imaginative inventors behind them.

Here are some of the National Trust HOD events happening across Norfolk…

Heritage Open Days at Horsey Windpump
Saturday 10 September, 10am-4pm
Horsey Windpump is an iconic invention sitting amongst an array of rare wildlife. Discover the history of the windpump, enjoy the buzzing wildlife garden or take one of the many scenic walking routes around Horsey.

Horsey Windpump has a fascinating past and is the perfect gateway to experience the connection between man and nature. Standing sentinel over the mere and surrounding Broadland landscape, a climb to the top is rewarded with beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding countryside an opportunity not to be missed. Come and find out more about this astounding invention and the part that Windpumps played in our local history.

Last entry at 3pm, tour times available on arrival. Free entry, no booking required.

Heritage Open Days at Felbrigg Hall
Saturday 10-Wednesday 14 September, noon-4pm
One of the most elegant country houses in East Anglia, the Hall is a place of surprises and delights, a mixture of opulence and homeliness where each room evokes the imagination.

Inside see stained glass windows, beautiful hand painted wallpaper in the Chinese bedroom and Queen Mary’s teapot. Our room guides will be around to answer any questions you might have about our fascinating history and the collection. Then head outside to enjoy the stunning walled garden, the rolling landscape and waymarked trails.

Free entry from 10-14 September, no booking required.

The Parterre Garden at Blickling Estate

BSL Interpreted: Heritage Open Days at Blickling Estate
Conservation conversations (Park Life)
Wednesday 14 September, 11am-1pm and 2-4pm
Join us for a conservation conversation as our experts show you how we look after this special place and plan to protect it for future generations. The park at Blickling has changed over the centuries but there are remnants of an ancient landscape in the woods and park today. Join Countryside Manager, Stuart Banks, for a walk to meet some truly remarkable trees and discover some of the habitats and wildlife that call Blickling home. We’ll also explore the effects of climate change in the parkland setting and how that influences the decisions we make today, as well as how we’re working to discover more about tree pests and diseases.

A BSL interpreter will be available for this guided walk. Booking essential. Free tour.

Heritage Open Days at Elizabethan House Museum
Thursday 15-Sunday 18 September, 10am-4pm
Explore this charming quayside merchant’s home which was built in 1596 and learn about its historical connections and the lives of the families who lived here. A house where you can experience family life from Tudor to Victorian times.

Free entry. No booking required.

Sheringham Park’s Pill Boxes
Friday 16 and Saturday 17 September, 11am-4pm
Two pillboxes at Sheringham Park that are normally closed, will be open for visitors to step inside. These were part of the defences of this section of the Norfolk coast. Two slightly different designs can be seen in conjunction with other nearby defensive structures. These, along with maps of the complete defensive layouts, will shed more light on Norfolk’s plan of defence.

No booking required.

Heritage Open Days at Oxburgh
Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 September, 9.30am-5pm
Home to the Bedingfeld family for 500 years, Oxburgh reveals one family’s unshakable Catholic faith and story of endurance. Explore Victorian Gothic interiors, curious collections, peaceful woodland walks and colourful gardens.

Inside, peel back the layers of history as you wander through a house filled with portraits, treasured objects and fascinating documents on loan from the current Baronet, Sir Henry Bedingfeld’s private collection. Especially for Heritage Open Days, we’re taking you behind the scenes to our collections store, which is normally closed to visitors, where you can see how we catalogue and care for Oxburgh’s collection. All tours are bookable on the day.

Outside, the original gardens at Oxburgh Hall have long since disappeared, however what you see today mirrors their footprint and forms a mixture of formal and wilderness. From the productive kitchen garden and herbaceous border to estate walks through woodland and meadows. Find out more about Oxburgh’s fascinating history and how we care for it today, on one of our volunteer-led guided tours.

Free entry throughout the weekend. No booking required.