Explore Historic Sites for Free on Heritage Open Weekends

For two weekends in September sites of historical interest in Bury St Edmunds and Beyond will be open to the public for free, many of them allowing you to explore areas normally closed off to the public.

This September you can visit a huge variety of fascinating historic places including the Ancient Library in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, the Suffolk Regiment Museum and the Bury St Edmunds Record Office. You can even view behind the scenes at the Theatre Royal, take a look inside the historic Bury St Edmunds Farmers Club and, for the first time,  explore the rise and fall of Rougham Hall.

As part of the hugely popular Heritage Open Days, England's largest festival of history and culture, local attractions and historic sites will be open with free entrance for two weekends from Thursday 6 – Sunday 9 September and Thursday 13 – Sunday 16 September 2018. 

This year, marking the Vote 100 anniversary, the lives of extraordinary women re celebrated. The Bury St Edmunds’ Quaker’s are opening their historic 18th century Meeting House and gardens with an opportunity to learn about the lives of local and national Quaker women and Bury St Edmunds Tour Guides will tell you all about the ladies of the town in a special tour  which includes a legendary royal needlewoman and a famous art deco artist.

Bury St Edmunds Guildhall will host a selection of talks, enactments and workshops from the stories of significant women of Bury St Edmunds whilst the St Edmunds Catholic Church and Chapel, one of the oldest in England, will display exhibitions of memorabilia relating to those women who have etched their place in local Catholic history. 

Heritage Open Days are a fantastic opportunity to discover local hidden treasures. This year visitors are able to step inside the story of Rougham Hall with an historical talk by George Agnew followed by a fascinating walk through the ruins, parkland and gardens. 

Other historic explorations of the local area include a walk around the town of Clare looking at its natural and built heritage, including Clare Castle, the Nuttery and Clare Common, and a rare chance to admire Bury St Edmunds from the roof of the Suffolk Regiment Museum.

Other highlights include an illustrated talk on what lies Under Bury St Edmunds looking at the tunnels, cellars, chalk caves/mines beneath the surface of Bury St Edmunds, a tour of the Great Churchyard with historian Pat Murrell, a rare opportunity to view the paintings of John Ward at Palace House in Newmarket and a demonstration on the art of bellringing and a brief history of the Norman Tower.

Plus there's an opportunity to go on a guided tour to learn about the history and features of St John's Church and see how it has changed since it was built in 1841.

There is also lots of fun for the family this year: children and adults will become starry-eyed over the solar observation and astronomy workshops in the Abbey Gardens and visit the home of the Suffolk Punch, Rede Hall Farm, to explore the farm and the living heritage of Suffolk. 

The enchanting seven-acre Fullers Mill Garden the banks of the River Lark at West Stow will be open to the public free of charge on September 8 and 9, as will nearby West Stow Anglo Saxon Village, one of England's great archaeological sites. 

The National Trust's Ickworth House, Park and Gardens, an Italianate Palace in the heart of an ancient deer park near Bury St Edmunds, will also be offering free entry on September 14 and 15.

For more details on these events and others being held as part of Heritage Open Days visit our what's on page.