Heritage Open Days are back – England’s biggest festival of history and culture where you can explore local treasures for free.

The fest runs from Thursday September 8 to Sunday September 11, and you can discover all the info on its website.

With so much history in and around York there’s plenty to choose from on our doorstep. So pick your venue and step back in time…

York Minster’s Stoneyard

Ready to show you round: York Minster master mason John David
Ready to show you round: York Minster master mason John David

York Minster and its Stoneyard

Fri Sept 9 10am-4pm

Email the Minster to book a place

York Minster’s Stoneyard will welcome visitors to its annual open day event on Friday 9 September, as part of Heritage Open Days.

Highlights of Stoneyard Open Day 2016 include:

  • Guided tours of the Stoneyard where the Minsters stonemasons, joiners, plumbers and electrician will talk about the techniques they use to repair, restore and protect the cathedral’s historic fabric and demonstrate ancient craft skills
  • Opportunities to explore hidden corners of the Minster including the Drawing Office and the Mason’s Loft – where the Master Mason would draw out the full size designs from which templates would be made to create stones for the cathedral
  • Visits to the York Glaziers Trust studios to meet the people responsible for the conservation and restoration of the Minster’s famed stained-glass.

Beningbrough Hall

Beningbrough Hall near York. Photograph © Robert Scarth on Flickr
Beningbrough Hall near York. Photograph © Robert Scarth on Flickr

Beningbrough Hall And Gardens, Beningbrough York

Sept 10-11, noon-5pm

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The National Trust will be offering free entry to explore two of its iconic houses and gardens in York to coincide with the Heritage Open Days festival.

Beningbrough Hall is 300 in 2016 and the year-long celebration continues with the opening of a new display. Maps and Memories is a brand new display adding to the stories of the families and workers of the estate and local villages.

With reproduction estate sale catalogues and large maps, plus photographs from the archives, take a seat and travel through time imagining life at Beningbrough through the centuries.

Especially for the weekend, several items of period furniture, including cabinets, chests and cupboards, will be opened up to reveal the drawers and compartments that visitors don’t usually see. This is the only time in the year that you’ll be able to see inside certain parts of the house collection.

Treasurer’s House

A great chance to visit Treasurer's House
A great chance to visit Treasurer’s House

Treasurer’s House, Minster Yard, York YO1 7JL

Sat Sept 10-Sun Sep 11 11am-4pm

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The other National Trust property taking part is the wonderful Treasurer’s House.

It’s a great time to discover Demolition and Restoration – this display looks not only at the changes the last owner Frank Green made to Treasurer’s House but also other house around Yorkshire that were less fortunate and have been lost over time.

The popular ghost cellar tour at Treasurer’s House will be free on the heritage weekend. Spaces for the tours are limited however, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Central Methodist Church York

The grade II* listed church
The grade II* listed church

Central Methodist Church, St Saviourgate, York YO1 8NQ

Sat Sept 10 10am-4pm

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The church is a Grade 11* listed building built in 1840, one of the few chapels of its period still intact. It has an imposing classical facade incorporating a giant three bay portico of unfluted Ionic columns and pediment.

The interior is horse-shoe shaped with a gallery on three sides supported by nine pillars. It has a magnificent organ.

Fishergate Postern Tower

Fishergate Postern. Photograph © Harry Mitchell on Wikimedia Commons
Fishergate Postern. Photograph © Harry Mitchell on Wikimedia Commons

Fishergate Postern Tower, Piccadilly, York

Fri Sept 9 1pm-5pm; Sat Sept 10 and Sun Sept 11 10am-4pm

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Volunteer guides will show you around the 500 year old tower, where the Postern gatekeeper lived with his family. The second floor room has sockets in the walls from which large timbers used to support the lead roof above.

The spiral staircase ends on the top floor, which was enclosed with the existing timber roof some time before it was shown on John Speed’s map of 1610. Some of the original battlements still have mason’s marks.

Naburn Lock

Beautiful and historic: Naburn Lock. Photograph: Heritage Open Days
Beautiful and historic: Naburn Lock. Photograph: Heritage Open Days

Canal & River Trust, Naburn, York YO19 4RU

Sun Sept 11 10am-4pm

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Naburn Locks, on the River Ouse six miles from York, is a hidden gem that needs to be explored by all who visit the area.

The locks at Naburn are kitted out with impressive cast iron swing-bridges and shrouded paddle gearing. The bridges bear small shields with the City of York arms on them. But just as impressive in their own way are the workshops, one of which contains a huge blacksmith’s hearth complete with bellows.

Nunnington Hall

Nunnington Hall. Photograph: National Trust
Nunnington Hall. Photograph: National Trust

Nunnington Hall, Nunnington, York, North Yorkshire, YO62 5UY

Fri Sept 9 and Sat Sept 10 11am-5pm

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This welcoming and friendly family home is known for its enchanting house and beautiful organic gardens. You can discover more about the Fife family, owners of the Hall in the 1920s and, if you’re brave enough, hear the Hall’s ghostly tales!

As well as the historic house, look out for the popular Carlisle Collection of miniature rooms on display, an example of intricate craftsmanship not to be missed.

Poppleton Community Railway Nursery

A remarkable corner of York – the Poppleton Community Railway Nursery. Photograph: Richard McDougall
A remarkable corner of York – the Poppleton Community Railway Nursery. Photograph: Richard McDougall

Poppleton Community Railway Nursery, Station Road, Upper Poppleton, York YO26 6QA

Sat Sept 10 10am-6pm

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The Poppleton Community Railway Nursery is a volunteer-run registered charity which was set up to restore the former railway nursery at Poppleton station for working use: the buildings, greenhouses and narrow gauge railway. Visit the greenhouses, plant sales, see the narrow gauge railway and model railway and enjoy refreshments.

The nursery provided the red carpet and floral displays for all royal visits and special events on railways in the east of England for many years. When the nursery closed in 2006 the carpet was put back in its shed, and has been left there ever since.

So for the heritage weekend they will be putting some of it out with flowers and other items, including photos of it in use, for people to look at, walk on and take their photographs.

St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel

St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel. Photograph © Google Street View
St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel. Photograph © Google Street View

York Unitarians, St. Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, St. Saviourgate, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 8NQ

Sat Sept 10 10am-4pm

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York Unitarians maintain their remarkable and unique 17th century cruciform meetinghouse built in 1692; the earliest load-bearing brick building and oldest surviving non-conformist chapel in York.

Photographs and files from earlier occasions will be on display, and chapel members on hand to provide information and answer questions.

The Bar Convent

The lovely Bar Convent garden. Photograph: Heritage Open Days
The lovely Bar Convent garden. Photograph: Heritage Open Days

The Bar Convent Museum, 17-19 Blossom Street, York YO24 1AQ

Fri Sept 9 and Sat Sept 10 10am-4pm

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The Bar Convent in York is England’s oldest living convent, home to a community of sisters whose history reaches back three centuries. Today, the gorgeous grade I listed Georgian buildings house an award-winning café, garden, guest house and state-of-the-art interactive exhibition.

Discover the story of secrets and spies, angry mobs and Luftwaffe bombs. Be inspired by the bravery of radical Yorkshire nun and educational pioneer Mary Ward, whose fiery dedication took her on foot across the Alps – twice. Visit the beautiful 18th century Hidden Chapel and peer inside an original priest hole.

Lord Mayor’s ‘Get to know York’ Walks

The City of York crest. Photograph: Capture York
The City of York crest. Photograph: Capture York

Leaving from St Helen’s Square, York

Sat Sept 10 and Sun Sept 11 10am-3.30pm

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The Lord Mayor of York invites you to an hour-long ‘Get to know York walk. York’s rich historic buildings heritage forms the backdrop to an hour-long walk through the sites and stories that made the city what it is today.

Guides from the Civic Trust and York Tour will bring York’s 2,000 year story to life. In addition, there will be additional specialist two hour tours.

The Red Tower

The Red Tower on Foss Islands Road
The Red Tower on Foss Islands Road

The Red Tower, Foss Islands Road, York YO1 9UJ

Sat Sept 10 11am-4pm

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the Red Tower dates back to 1490 and is the only brick built tower on the medieval city walls. Originally built as a watchtower, it was part of a larger programme of improvements to the city’s defences ordered by Richard III and completed by his successor, Henry VII after Richard’s death at the Battle of Bosworth.

The tiny tower and its sheltered garden will open as a pop up cafe with teas and home made cakes, family storytelling sessions, musical accompaniment and displays about the tower’s history and its recovery after the Boxing Day floods in 2015.

The Stained Glass Centre

St Martin cum Gregory Church, home of the Stained Glass Centre
St Martin cum Gregory Church, home of the Stained Glass Centre

St. Martin Cum Gregory Church, St. Martins Lane, York YO1 6LN

Sat Sept 10 and Sun Sept 11 10am-3pm

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As well as providing the opportunity to visit one of York’s most beautiful secret buildings and learn about the art and craft of stained glass, this year you’ll be able to see stained glass conservation in action!

For the first time the centre will be dedicating the focus of their open day to this remarkable practice and inviting or visitors to come and take a look and find out more.

Also refreshments, quizzes, kids’ activities and a book sale, where you can find titles relating to stained glass, architecture, historic York and more.

Tours of Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate. Photograph © Paul Wordingham on Flickr
Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate. Photograph © Paul Wordingham on Flickr

Holy Trinity, 70 Goodramgate, York YO1 7LF

Sat Sept 10 10am-4pm; Sun Sept 11 noon-4pm

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It’s been described as ‘York’s best kept secret’. Volunteers are on hand to provide tours of this hidden medieval gem set back from the busy streets of York.

Discover the secluded churchyard, stained glass, monuments and fascinating history Holy Trinity.

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