We regularly share our tips and advice on our blog and with our visitors about the best places to visit in Lancashire and Cumbria, and the best things to see and do in our local area. Many of those are local’s guides, insider tips, or quiet corners and hidden places to discover. This year’s Heritage Open Days – a free celebration of all things history and culture – ticks all of those boxes. So, with that in mind, here’s our run down of all the free things to see and do this September while you’re staying at The Longlands. Oh, and did we mention they’re all completely free?!
The annual community-led festival of Heritage Open Days runs from the 8th – 17th September and there’s pretty much something new to see and do every single day.
A Festival of Song at Lancaster Priory
The Grade 1 Listed Building of Lancaster Priory comes alive with the sound of all different types of music; from Burt Bacharach to gospel, folk, and even a bit of afrobeat and neo-soul spice thrown in. Expect vocal workshops, youth music, and a women’s voices choir bringing together singers of all ages and abilities. And all in the beautiful historic setting of the Mother Church of the City of Lancaster. From 9th– 17th September. https://lancasterpriory.org/
Mention gunpowder and everyone automatically thinks of the Guy Fawkes plot of 1605. However, over 250 years later, between 1875 and 1935, gunpowder made just a few miles from The Longlands was of huge significance to the construction of the canal and railway network and the mining and quarrying industries of Northern England. Join one of the Sizergh Estate’s guided walks to the remains of the Sedgwick gunpowder works to find out more about the fascinating history of the site and the people who lived and worked there. Walks will be held on various dates from 9th-17th September and last up to 2 hours. Booking essential. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/lake-district/sizergh/events
Behind the scenes at The Grand
On Sunday 10th September, prepare to be given access all areas to one of the oldest provincial theatres in the UK – the Grade II listed Lancaster Grand Theatre. Since 1782, the Lancaster Grand has been a hotbed of creativity with talented experts, professional touring companies, and enthusiastic amateurs treading the historic boards. Fully guided ‘behind the scenes’ tours will be available all day plus lots more activities for everyone to enjoy. Pop in anytime from 10am-3pm to see all corners of this stunning building and discover some of the stories of its history. Sunday 10th September from 10am-3pm. https://lancastergrand.co.uk/shows/heritage-open-days-2023/
Furniture and falconry
For one day only, you can enjoy a free guided tour inside Leighton Hall, the historic home of the Gillow furniture family as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days. On Wednesday 13th September, the Hall will be brought to life by the entertaining guides, sharing stories of times gone by and pointing out a treasure chest of architectural delights, stunning furniture, and classic works of art. A free bird of prey display also takes place in the gardens at 3.30pm. Wednesday 13th September from 11am-4pm. Booking essential.
Be a King, Queen, or Prisoner of the Castle
On Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th of September, Lancaster Castle will be offering free guided tours of the fascinating castle, which until 2011, still functioned as a prison. The iconic building dates back to Roman times and has witnessed some of the UK’s most infamous trials and executions including the trials of the Pendle Witches. Guided tours explore the castle’s many historic rooms including the Crown Court, Shire Hall, and Medieval Cells. There’s also free admission to the Lancashire Police Museum where all 16 of the galleries are housed within their own prison cell. Castle tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis and will run every 30 minutes. Tours last just over an hour. Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th September from 10am-4pm. https://www.lancastercastle.com/
Celebrate local traditions
You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate old traditions like milling, especially when there’s interesting places to visit like Beetham’s Heron Corn Mill, just a few miles from The Longlands. The 18th century Grade II listed water mill was built in 1740 and milled until 1958. Today, it produces freshly milled stoneground flours and offers volunteer-led mill tours and demonstrations with the Millwright. And the repurposed threshing barn is a great space for their popular Foodie Friday mini markets and creative workshops. For Heritage Open Days on Saturday 16th September, the Mill will be celebrating everything retro. The ‘Waterwheel Vintage Bazaar’ will feature a selection of retro stalls plus the Warton Classic Vehicle group. Saturday 16thSeptember from 11am-3pm. http://www.heronmill.org/
There are plenty more free places to explore within a short drive of The Longlands Inn & Restaurant during Heritage Open Days Week. Visit https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/ and search under ‘Lancashire’ or ‘Cumbria’ for more inspiration.