Heritage Open Days in East Devon

The Heritage Open Days invite you to experience local history, architecture, and culture in your local area, all for free. Running 9 – 18 September, here’s a selection of events in the East Devon area. 

Do check the Heritage Open Days website for specific details for additional information and whether the event has been cancelled or changed. Unless otherwise stated no booking is required.

A walk round Exeter and Exeter literary walks: Available any time 

These walks take in historical sites and those with literary interest with descriptive notes and images. The trails are available to download via Exeter Walk and Literary Walk

Art & Surgery Interactive Exhibition: St Nicholas Priory, The Mint, Exeter

Times:  10 September, 11 September, 17 September, 18 September: 13.00-16.00

Explore Exeter’s oldest building via an immersive experience that covers art, poetry, plastic surgery, and post-mortems. See how art and surgery influence each other.

Astounding Inventions Trail: Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Queen Street, Exeter

Times: daily 9 – 18 September (apart from Mondays): 10.00-17.00

Pick up a copy of the Astounding Inventions trail and follow it to discover and learn about fascinating objects in the museum’s collection. If you find all the highlighted objects you can collect a reward in the museum shop.

Bookworms Make Astounding Inventions: 7 Cathedral Close, Exeter

Times: 17 September: 10.30-12.00

Booking: via the Devon and Exeter Institution

Join fellow bookworms and explore the inventions of the 1851 Great Exhibition. See the collection and get creative making your own invention. For children aged 5+ years.

Digby House, former Digby Hospital, South West MS Centre: Clyst Heath, Exeter

Times: 18 September: 14.00-16.00

Visit the Grade II listed building, once part of the Digby Hospital estate. The house was the former resident of the medical officer of Digby Hospital and was designed and built in the 1880s by architect R Stark Williamson. 

Exeter and the Great Exhibition of 1851: Devon & Exeter Institution, 7 Cathedral Close

Times: 9 – 17 September (except Mondays and Sundays): 10.00-17.00

Explore the tabletop display that explores links between Exeter and the Great Exhibition of 1851. The Devon & Exeter Institution has a wealth of material relating to the Exhibition, including stories in local newspapers, articles on Honiton point lace, and a model of the west front of the cathedral.

Exeter Blitz: west front of Exeter Cathedral

Times: 10 September: 11.00; 12 September: 11.00; 14 September: 15.00; 16 September: 15.00

Booking: via the Corn Exchange

Discover how Exeter was affected by air raids on 4 May 1942 and how the event shaped the city we see today. 

Exeter Dissenters Graveyard: Magdalen Street, Exeter

Times: 10 September, 11 September, 14 September, 17 September, 18 September: 10.00-16.00

The Dissenters rejected the authority of the Church of England and a separate burial ground between the 18th and 19th centuries was created. The site has recently been restored from dereliction. Their struggles helped to establish freedom of opinion and religious belief in the country and this graveyard is their local monument.

Exeter Library’s Special Collections ‘White Glove’ Experience: Exeter Library, Castle Street, Exeter

Times: 12 September: 10.00 & 11.00; 14 September: 14.00 & 15.00

Booking: via Exeter Library

Usually available by appointment only the library’s Special Collections dates back to 1480. There will be a selection of special old and rare specimens on display with the opportunity to touch and hold them.

Exeter’s Underground Passages: 2 Paris Street, Exeter

Times: 15 September, 16 September, 17 September, Sunday 18 September: 11.30, 12.30, 13.30. 14.30

Booking: via Exeter Underground Passages

Go on a guided tour of the medieval vaulted passages that stretch beneath the streets. They were originally built in the 14th century to bring fresh water supply into the city. The visitor centre is full of interactive exhibits too. Not suitable for under-5s or those who suffer from claustrophobia.

Guided Tour of the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum: The Old Library, University of Exeter, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter

Times: 10 September 15.30-16.30

Booking: Email: bdc@exeter.ac.uk

The museum’s collection has over 86,000 artefacts telling the story of cinema and the optical media that preceded it. The tour will be given by the museum’s curator, bringing artefacts to life and putting them into context.

Guided tours of the Devon & Exeter Institution: 7 Cathedral Close, Exeter

Times: 10 September 13.00-15.00; 14 September 10.30-13.00; 17 September: 13.00-15.00

The Library is housed in two elegant Georgian rooms, providing space for research, reading, educational activities, cultural events, and lectures. Tours last 20 minutes and can be tailored to you and your interests.

In Transit at Exeter Quayside: Custom House Visitor Centre, The Quay, Exeter

Times: 17 September: 18.30-20.00

Booking: via Quay Words

In Transit will share stories and histories from the River Exe, exploring the themes of colonialism, migration, industry, and the environment. Performed by poet and musician Belinda Zhawi, this spoken-word performance will blend reflections on the Exe and her experiences of the Thames.

Princesshay Rooftop Bee Garden Tours: Chandos, 1 Roman Walk, Exeter

Times: 17 September: 10.00 & 14.00; 18 September: 10.00 & 14.00

Booking: Rooftop Garden Beehive Tours

Over the last 10 years, the rooftop bee-friendly garden has been a sanctuary for honey bees where four bee hives house 300,000 honeybees. Honey collected from these hives is sold exclusively at Chandos Deli.

Raising the Roof at Exeter Cathedral: Exeter

Times: 13-15 September: 14.00

Booking: via Exeter Cathedral website

Discover the inventions within the architecture of the cathedral and learn about the modern technology used to look after the library.

Tour of County Hall and Bellair: Devon County Council, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter

Times: 18 September: 11.00

Booking: Email bill.horner@devon.gov.uk

Take a tour of this listed building that is considered a gem of 20th-century Neo-classical civic architecture. Bellair is a Queen Anne period house within the landscaped grounds of County Hall.

Tuckers Hall: 140 Fore Street, Exeter

Times: 10 September, 13 September, 15 September, 17 September: 10.30-13.00

Gain access to the medieval Tuckers Hall, home of the Incorporation of The Weavers, Fullers, and Shearmens Guilds.

Connecting the Culm: Dunkeswell Abbey Tour, Dunkeswell Abbey, Honiton

Times: 17 September: 11.00, 13.00, 15.00

Booking: via Dunkeswell Abbey 

A guided tour that delves into the skills and resourcefulness of the monks at Dunkeswell Abbey. Find out about their water management and discover why the Cistercians chose this rural site.

Check out the Heritage Open Days website for more inspiration. 

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