Rare chance to open the doors to Wales's hidden historic gems

Reporter:

Jamie Bowman

Throughout September people across Wales will have the opportunity to peek inside buildings and unlock the myths and legends that lie deep within towns, cities and local communities thanks to the return of Open Doors.

More than 300 of Wales’s most iconic and unusual properties will offer free entry, activities, guided tours or special events throughout the month of September, with some unique locations opening their doors to the public for the very first time.

The month-long event offers people living in Wales, and visitors, the chance to explore new, hidden and renowned features of the country’s culture and history.

From ‘Royalty and Rogues’ themed tours of Ruthin, to Cardiff’s Reform Synagogue, and even the National Assembly for Wales’s Senedd building, visitors can explore all types of the country’s fascinating buildings and sites, with over 1,000 different events to discover.

Additionally, Cadw is offering the first 25,000 people to register through its Eventbrite page, free entry to its 23 paid-admission sites over the final weekend in September (23 to 24 September).

Across Flintshire and Wrexham, a number of sites will be revealing their secrets as part of the project including everything from medieval fortresses to a 1960s semi-detached home.

One such building is the Old Rectory in Hawarden. An 18th century building set within its own grounds, it was home to the Rectors of Hawarden for centuries but for the past 60 years it has housed Flintshire Record Office, which preserves the county’s unique archival heritage and makes it available to the public.

The Open Doors event, which takes place on Saturday, September 23, will include an exhibition about historic buildings in Hawarden (including the Old Rectory) as well as behind-the-scenes tours of the Old Rectory to see the strongrooms, where the County’s historic archives are kept, and a chance to see some of the oldest and rarest items in our collections.

You can also visit the Conservation studio to see how precious and sometimes fragile archives are preserved for future generations. There will also be a fascinating guided walk around Hawarden village following a historic buildings trail, led by a knowledgeable member of staff.

Elsewhere in Hawarden, on Saturday September 9, there is an opportunity to view a 1960s semi-detached home which has been retrofitted with energy saving technology to reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills, through the SuperHomes open house event and on Saturday, September 16, there will be three curator-led, hour long tours of Gladstone’s Library, featuring a talk on the collections and the history of the library. Visitors will have a chance to see the beautiful Reading Rooms, as well as ‘Closed Access’, where around 6,000 items printed before 1800 are held, some dating from the 15th Century.

Over in Wrexham, Erdig Hall throws open its doors on Saturday, September 9. Sitting on a dramatic escarpment above the winding Clywedog river, Erddig tells the 250-year story of a gentry family’s relationship with its servants with a large collection of servants’ portraits and carefully preserved rooms capturing their lives in the early 20th century. Upstairs is a treasure trove of fine furniture, textiles and wallpapers, while outdoors lies a fully restored 18th-century garden, with trained fruit trees, exuberant annual herbaceous borders, avenues of pleached limes, formal hedges and a nationally important collection of ivies.

Also free to enter is Chrik Castle. Completed in 1310 during the reign of the conquering Edward I to subdue the last princes of Wales., the castle is built on an outcrop above the meeting point of the rivers Dee and Ceiriog, with the imposing silhouette of the castle designed as a brooding statement of English intent in these disputed lands.

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, said: “Cadw is committed to making Wales’s heritage accessible to all and Open Doors is a fantastic programme that does just that.

“With the support of our partners in the heritage sector and volunteers across the country, Open Doors gives people the chance to visit our best-known sites and get the rare opportunity to explore many more not usually open to the public.

“Wales is famous for its unrivalled collection of historic sites which demonstrate our rich heritage and are steeped in folklore, and what better time to visit them than during Visit Wales’s Year of Legends? From ancient castles constructed by famous Welsh Princes, to Roman Amphitheatres rumoured to be linked to King Arthur’s very own Camelot, there are legends abound to be explored this September.”

l Visit www.cadw.wales.
gov.uk/opendoors for full event listings and details of properties taking part in the programme.

Email:

jamie.bowman@nwn.co.uk

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