Heritage Open Days 2018

“One Festival. Two Weekends. Hundreds of Extraordinary Women.”

Reading’s annual celebration of its many magnificent heritage locations takes place for the first time across two consecutive weekends, 6-9 and 13-16 September 2018, and coincides with the second Reading-on-Thames Festival, which champions Reading’s arts and culture inspired by its waterways heritage. 

abbey228 historic locations will be opening their doors for a series of free tours, walks, talks and special events. A particular highlight for 2018 will be a chance to hear about the recent conservation work undertaken as part of the Reading Abbey Revealed Project following the £3.1m conservation project that reopened the Abbey Ruins to the public this summer.

Heritage Open Days is England’s biggest heritage festival. This once-a year opportunity allows you to discover Reading’s hidden and forgotten treasures with all the heritage buildings FREE to explore.

This year focuses on “Extraordinary Women” as it is the centenary of the Universal Suffrage Act. Free guided tours of Reading with Terry’s Reading Walkabouts cover over 30 famous and not so famous Reading women whilst the University's Acacias, not normally open to the public, offers the atmosphere of a Victorian gentleman’s residence to learn about Edith Morley - suffragist, Britain’s first female professor and supporter of refugees.

Reading Abbey will be offering a Jane Austen themed PostcardsAbbey Gateway tour to find out about Jane’s only period of formal education, at Reading Ladies Boarding School, which was located in the Gateway.

There is a wide range of events from creating your own postcard with letter presses in an activity suitable for all ages, to learning about the Green Park Wind Turbines. There are also tours of Caversham Court Gardens, including sensory tours for the visually or hearing impaired (available on request), as well as the opportunity to find out about your own ancestors with the Centre for Heritage and Family History, newly open this year.

GreyfriarsChurchThere are a number of guided walks around historic areas of Reading for a variety of interests. From a slow and steady walk around the many industrial sites of Reading to a walk of the Conservation Area that covers the Georgian and Victorian development of Reading; and the Abbey Quarter Sculpture Walk through the Forbury and the Abbey Ruins which are full of sculptures both ancient and modern. There is something for everyone.

Reading has many historic places of religious worship that offer special events; Greyfriars is the most complete example of Franciscan architecture in Britain, St James’s Church was Pugin’s first church design or visit Reading Synogogue designed in a Moorish style.

 

Reading has been a waterfront town for well over a thousand years. Heritage Open Days are also part of the Reading-on-Thames Festival (6-16 September) which takes inspiration from Reading’s wonderful waterways' heritage. There will be outdoor spectaculars, exhibitions, walks and talks throughout the ten day festival including the Reading Film Trail curated by The London Short Film Festival; The High Sheriff of Berkshire's Concert: The London Mozart Players; and GRRRL presenting a bespoke, electronic collaboration that promises to be the live performance event of the year.

Reading UK has published a free map guide to Heritage Open Days in Reading which can be picked up from libraries and leisure centres. Full details of all the events/locations can be found at www.heritageopendays.org.uk For more information on the Reading-on-Thames Festival, visit www.readingonthamesfestival.org 

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