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Edible England

This year's Edible England theme really seems to have caught everyone’s imagination! From picnics to tasting tours, hundreds of delicious events have been planned. Sadly, it is impossible to visit them all, so without further ado, here are a few events to give you a taste of what’s on the Heritage Open Days plate.

© Cathedral and Abbey Church of Saint Alban - Take a munch out of a food-filled weekend.

Journey through a history of food

Explore the changing ways in which we've enjoyed food throughout history.

Let the Regency Cook whisk you back to puddings past © Regency Town House

  • Head over to St Albans Cathedral:Medieval Munchies for a fabulous food-filled weekend. Find ‘Brother Infirmian’ to hear how the resident monks used plants to cure all sorts of ailments. Learn about the abbey’s kitchens from ‘Brother Rockcliffe’ or speak to some ‘troublesome townspeople’ about why the abbey was stormed during the Peasants’ Revolt! For those who can’t make it in person, join the virtual Medieval Bake off by posting your Cathedral-inspired creations online. 
  • Turn your kitchen into a time-machine with this short online History of English Puddings. On 11th September, Paul Couchman, otherwise known as the Regency cook, will be waiting on your screen, ready to whisk you through the centuries. Taught interactively with plenty of practical demonstrations, find out about the Roman origins of the English Pudding and watch its evolution into the Christmas puds we love today. You will be sure to impress your friends with your delicious knowledge!

Brrr! Learn about the frosty purpose of this Victorian Ice House © East Carleton and Ketteringham Parish Council

  • Follow the Tastes of the Tudors in the peaceful seclusion of Friends of Markeaton Park Walled Garden. Meander down the pathway and spot the herbs, flowers, vegetables and pulses eaten at the time. Are they still used today? As a bonus, try decoding some early cooking books or go on a hunt for the mythical beasts that might be hiding in the garden.
  • For a ‘cool’ day out, why not bring your picnic along to the Ice House in Ladybelt Country Park, Norfolk? This is a unique relic of the Victorian Age when kitchens looked to new ways to keep their food fresh. Explore the display inside and then tuck into your tea and cakes. Hopefully the day will be a sunny contrast to the ice house’s frosty interior!

Sit down at nature's table

Discover the many ways in which the natural world provides for us, and what we can do for it in return.

Take a seat at Nature's Table © Wikimedia Commons

  • Forage for Useful Edibles in a guided walk through Broompark in Durham. Join Richard Bell, the Parks and Countryside site Ranger, as he shares his extensive knowledge of edible plants and fungi. With this introduction you will be ready to start foraging for goodies of your own.
  • Discover the magic of Medicinal Plants in Sheffield General Cemetery. This self-guided tour will introduce you to the ways in which plants have historically been used in healing, from woodland cures to folk remedies. But you can also find out about their more sinister properties by following the Murder & Mishap Trail.
  • Have you ever considered what kitchens might have in common with laboratories? How Making Marmalade might be very similar to conducting an experiment? Find out the answer from Cambridge researcher, Lucy Harvard, as she takes you (virtually) into an 18th century domestic kitchen to reveal some surprisingly scientific activities.

Paddington's favorite marmalade snack will never look the same © Wikimedia Commons

  • Return nature’s goodness in Composting to Heal the Earth. Join Thomas Daniell in Brighton to learn about the secret world of soil biology, and to hear about adaptations that our food and farming system are calling out for. Gain practical tips and perhaps even get involved with some local projects.

Celebrate food from afar

Uncover the global origins of many of the foods we eat.

Create your own 'dishes' through movement and dance © Leeds Civic Trust

  • Taste delicious food at St Peters Highfields in Leicestershire. Visit this 150 year old church and catch a day of cooking demonstrations, featuring food from the Caribbean and more.
  • Dance your way through culinary heritage in this exciting workshop with artist, Minoti Parikh. Through the medium of Indian Dance, she will take you on a journey through the country’s vibrant culture, cuisine, and community, opening up spaces for discussions along the way. In particular, find out about the spices of Indian cultures and how they influence much of the 'global' food we have today.
  • Explore Bury Park on a Walking Tour through the area. Let local guide, Fahim Qureshi, accompany you as you stroll through what is now the vibrant epicentre of Luton's South Asian community. Expect exclusive access, fascinating insights, and plenty of mouth watering samples from local food establishments. 

Find out about the potential Jewish origins of this 'British' staple © Wikimedia Commons

  • Get A Taste of Jewish Food in this online piece from Cheltenham Hebrew Congregation. Read personal stories from the community and explore how Jewish cuisine influences lots of the food we love today. It is even believed that 'British' fish and chips can be traced to Sephardi migrants from Portugal!

Feast your mind on the past

Use smell, taste and touch to feel closer to people living long ago.

What did life taste like during rationing © Wikimedia Commons

  • Discover the stories behind jams, gin, and mustard as you talk to local producers. You can even meet the sheep, spin their wool, and grown your own potato! It's all happening at a Feastival at The Forum in Norwich this year.
  • Go Down in the Kitchen of Preston Manor in East Sussex to experience the shouts, sizzling and crashing of an Edwardian kitchen. This interactive sound installation has been created specifically for Heritage Open Days 2021, so make sure you arrive with your ears ready for an audio feast.
  • Head over to the historic Ramsey Abbey in Cambridgeshire for a delightful sensory walk around their Walled Kitchen Garden. Take in the aromas from a reconstructed herb garden and from their 'apple tunnel'; a twist on an orchard which is planted with 20 varieties of locally bred apples. Sweet!
  • Get a little taste of wartime rationing with Low Sugar, Low Spice. If you’ve wondered how life would have tasted in 1942 or how you would have fared in a time when nearly all foods were rationed, this is certainly the event for you! Grab your chance to sample some ration recipes prepared specially by the Women’s Institute in this one-off event in Lancaster City Centre.

Get back in touch with old favourites

Unlock childhood memories with these nostalgic events

Have you ever wondered 'How did my nan cook it?' © Reading Sheffield

  • Stop to catch the story of one of the most famous omelettes in history, the Arnold Bennett. Created for the novelist it took its name from, this eggy dish will be celebrated in an extravaganza in Burslem, Staffordshire. Among other delights, the event will include readings, tours and performances related to the novelist and his town. If you are lucky, you might even get the chance to sample a special HODs version of the Savoy’s ‘Omelette Arnold Bennett’ for yourself!
  • Get to grips with the nation's retro fave...the black forest gateau. Join a cook-a-long with chef Ben Christopherson as he reveals the secrets of this infamous dessert. While the in-person tickets are all sold out, there is still time to grab yourself a virtual place. Don't miss out!
  • Take a trip down memory lane with an exhibition that asks 'How did your nan cook it'. Rummage through a vibrant display of vintage cookery books, and see if you can spot any familiar family favourites. 
  • Test your tastebuds in a History Quiz! Grab your family, get your thinking cap on and jump into this quiz on the Edible History of Sunderland. As it is being held on Zoom there is no requirement to dress smartly. All they want to know is … can you tell your panackelty from your pease pudding?

Find out more

Like this Edible England post? Find more foodie inspiration in our other Festival Spotlights:

Or come take a quick peek at our blog for some historical anecdotes and curious collections:

Explore the directory for even more fascinating events.

PLEASE NOTE - These events were accurate at the time of publication but this year more than ever the details are subject to change. Please check the individual entries for more.