A trip down memory lane…
This Heritage Open Days, I sat down with some friends and mapped out a route to explore the places I have lived and loved. I wanted a route that involved little money, maximum fun and the chance to see places that I knew and loved. Heritage, stories, history, people and places were on my ‘to see’ list, especially because I knew I could do so much for free- being a student, money is always in low supply but high demand. I started with the obvious...
On the doorstep
Royal Holloway University sits at the top of Egham Hill that’s only about a 10 minute walk from my house. I arrived with a few friends and wandered around the vast grounds and marvelled at the incredible Founder’s Building. We then followed the signs to the gallery and chapel, both filled with people listening to talks and tours. Being a bit of an art-lover, the Victorian artwork in the gallery was a really interesting part of the day, and I loved hearing a talk by the Head Curator about how Thomas Holloway- the university’s Victorian founder- set up the collection to rival contemporary women’s colleges in America. Making our way back down the hill, we wandered down the steps into the woodland and lakes that make up the vast (and I mean vast, we got lost...twice) grounds.
Into the city
Next on the list, London was a hub of interesting and exciting events, and made sense for my wallet too- I could visit a few in between or before lectures at university. For this, I made seeing some unveilings from 'put her forward' of statues of Extraordinary Women my priority. I teamed up with our amazing photographer, got a friend of mine to come along and made a full day of it. Of course each event was free, and journeying around London isn’t too expensive if you know your bus routes. The first unveiling was of Sheila Scott who had her close friends and family around her as she shared her story of setting up one of London’s first homeless shelters and charities. We then hopped on a bus, down to Lambeth to hear about the fantastic work of Lady Phyll, the founder of U.K Black Pride and a Stonewall trustee. Her words, in the exhibition space of Immortalised (also open for the festival) were inspiring, as she spoke about that we should never be asked, or want to be, silenced or underrepresented. Finally, we were given an exciting access into City Hall to hear Chrisann Jarret’s extraordinary work helping migrants and refugees to further their educational goals.
So my final stop? I wanted to get a bit further out- although I knew that involved travelling, which involved money. But I still wanted to see a lot, and pack events in to a whole day. I settled on Bath, which had loads of events, and is my hometown. And for transport? Granted I had to get the train from London to Bath, but I got my Mum (also from Bath) to pick me up and drive to visit events together. We started with the Abbey and whilst we just missed the Heritage Open Days tour, it made for brilliant photographs to marvel the architectural beauty of this town. Then onto the American Museum, who had a live band playing in the grounds and we followed the winding paths leading to a pumpkin patch and newly opened landscaped gardens. We also bumped into a few costumed famous Americans of the past...I think I spotted a Benjamin Franklin, but can’t be too sure. And rounding up the day, we visited the Cleveland Baths, Georgian swimming baths that closed in the 1980s to become a trout farm. As we got there, my Mum said that this is where she learnt to swim, which the volunteers overheard and couldn’t wait to tell us about the plans to reopen the baths for public swimming in the near future.
And then home! Having a full weekend of Heritage Open Days and the stories, sites, people and places that make the festival what it is. I had learnt so much about my own family, history and places- and the extra bonus- all of this for the price of a few buses and a train.