The Heritage Open Days are back!
In the centre of Norwich, St Stephen’s will be hosting an exhibition and a Community Gospel Choir concert inviting us to reflect on the impact of the pandemic, as well as a display about Richard Caister, who was a priest here in the 15th century, a pilgrimage around Norwich.
St Peter Mancroft will be a home to a range of events, including an exhibition of silver spoons, a pipe organ demonstration and talks about the history of the church, history of Norfolk, bellringing and the development of our dining habits.
At St Julian’s, you can walk a labyrinth and reflect on the writings of St Julian of Norwich. At St Andrew’s you will be very welcome to join a tour of the church or attend a talk about John Robinson, whose vision led to the Mayflower’s journey to America in 1620.
St Giles-on-the-Hill, which usually has very limited opening hours, will be open throughout the week for you to see the interior of this wonderful church, including a stunning angel roof. St George’s Tombland, where you can appreciate a fine interior with 17th-century monuments, will be available for visits in person and online.
If you are in Norwich, you may also like to visit other medieval church buildings (such as St Augustine’s, St Peter’s Hungate or St James’ Pockthorpe – the Puppet Theatre) that are not used for worship anymore but are witnesses to the life in medieval Norwich.
A little further from the city centre, St Catherine’s church on Aylsham Road will be open. It is a stunning 1930s building, unlike any other church in Norwich, and is really worth seeing!
St Andrew’s in Eaton will be open throughout the week for all to see a stunning combination of a 13th-century thatched nave and an award-winning 1990s extension, as well as some medieval paintings.
At St Mary’s Hellesdon you can see a number of treasures, including medieval brasses, bosses and graffiti. There will also be an opportunity to hear a local artist Ellen Harling discuss her new work inspired by St Mary’s.
If you are heading to King’s Lynn, do visit the Minster, which will also be offering tours of the bell tower, the 19th-century St John’s church designed by Anthony Salvin to be the first in the town to provide 800 free seats, and All Saints’ church in Hillington Square – the oldest church foundation in King’s Lynn and a former home to a medieval hermit.
Just across the river, St Peter’s church in West Lynn will also open its doors and offer tours of this curious medieval building with a rare 20th-century chancel. Immediately outside King’s Lynn, at St Faith’s in Gaywood, you will find two amazing paintings – one depicting the defeat of the Armada and the other a portrait of Elizabeth I.
Elsewhere in Norfolk, St Peter’s church at Forcett St Peter is definitely worth a visit – there you will see an Anglo-Saxon tower, beautifully carved medieval pew ends and an extraordinary late medieval timber staircase. Another wonderful round-tower church full of treasures, including medieval wall paintings of national importance and a beautiful 15th-century font decorated with carved figures of saints, is located in Hemblington and will be open throughout the week.
St Mary’s in Martham is home to another stunning medieval font showing the Seven Sacraments, an outstanding collection of 15th-century stained glass and some medieval bench ends.
A walking tour of Heacham, which is also on offer during the Heritage Open Days, will include a visit to St Mary’s church. The 13th-century building has a rare cruciform shape with very unusual gigantic buttresses. Inside, it has an array of medieval features, including stained glass, brasses and a lovely carved screen. Finally, St Mary’s in Old Hunstanton will be open during the walking tour of the grounds of Old Hunstanton Hall. The church has a fine Victorian interior with lots of colourful 19th-century glass; here you will also find another amazing medieval screen with painted figures of saints and a Norman font.
All these churches, which have absorbed so much history over the centuries, are there for you to visit and to enjoy.
Please take pictures and share them with others via @exploringnorfolkchurches and @heritageopendays on Instagram and don’t worry if you miss anything – the majority of our churches are open during the year, some are even open 24/7!
If you would like to see what else is on offer, visit the Heritage Open Days website where you can search for events and locations. We really hope you have a great time exploring!