Top Ten: Towns, cities and everything in between further South!

Part one of our ‘Top Ten Places’ blog. We’ve taken the chance to explore some of our favourite places with the best coordinators around the country. 

© R.G Thomas - Bright and Bold in the Suffolk Regiment Museum where coordinator Gillian Rogers helps out over the festival.

Heritage Open Days (HODs) is nothing without the wonderful volunteers, organisers and coordinators that make the festival what it is. In some very special places around the country - from large cities to small towns - we have amazing coordinators that organise a whole host of exciting events in their area. In our countdown of the top ten, we’ve spoken to the coordinators, looked at the history of their area and found highlight events for you to explore. First up, six of our favourite southern locations…


The many doors of Liskeard opening up for you to explore this Heritage Open Days. Image sources from Yvette Hayward.

We spoke to Yvette Hayward, the coordinator for this lovely Cornish town recently, and asked her all about why she joined HODs for the first time this year… 

“I think festivals like HODs are important for getting people who don't usually do 'heritage' involved in a fun and accessible way, and this is one of the priorities of our project. I love my local area and it is great to be involved in a project which 'opens doors' for other people to discover what is great in our area in many different ways.”

We are so excited to have Liskeard working with us to create a buzz right at the bottom of the country and can’t wait to see what they have to come this September!


Norwich may just be our largest programme with over 180 events! Over the last two years we’ve loved seeing the progress of local coordinator Cathy Eden in bringing about so many exciting events. This year, Norwich has  thrown themselves behind our themes as well, with places like the Theatre Royal embracing LGBTQ heritage and Eaton Park opening and hosting events for Heritage & Nature.

Cathy had no shortage of brilliant things to say about HODs, and she clearly loves it as much as we do…

“It’s incredible to see the effort that goes into organising events- the whole town joins in! It’s really important for us to share what we love about where we live. It brings us together and helps us to appreciate the world around us. Even if you think you know a place, there’s always something new to learn-  HODs is a real community celebration.”

Bury St. Edmunds

Bury St. Edmunds's programme of events is coordinated by the fantastic Gillian Rogers, who went from photocopying entry forms to becoming the main coordinator. Even moving her place of work didn’t stop Gillian - the role came with her!

If she had to choose one of her favourite events, Gillian did confess that she had a soft spot for the Suffolk Regiment Museum as she helps out on the festival weekend taking people onto the roof (only accessible during HODs) for a stunning view of the town.

And her favourite thing about HODs? Making heritage accessible to everyone, opening buildings to see ‘behind the scenes’ and, of course, the lovely cakes available at many events.

Brighton Pier, which you can explore and wander around over many different events this September. Image credit to Eric Hossinger.

Brighton & Hove

This year, perhaps more than any other, a list like this would not be complete without Brighton & Hove. Not only are we thrilled to have the coordinators at Regency Town House working with us for their seventh year, we are especially excited by their array of LGBTQ events. With more events celebrating queer heritage than any other location, Brighton & Hove have truly welcomed all our stories for 2017.

From plays about gay women in Brighton, to Piers and Queers walking tour, and even talks exploring the life of Toupie Lowther, we owe Brighton & Hove a huge thank you for making our LGBTQ events diverse, exciting and amazing celebrations of heritage.


Winchester is definitely one of our success stories from the last few years and that has mostly been down to the work of Nicky Gottlieb. Since joining as the coordinator in 2015, she has grown the number of events from just 6, to over 60! She asked us...

The Launch of HODs 2017 Winchester, with organizers, coordinators and volunteers. Image sourced by Nicky Gottlieb.

“How often do we walk down a street or enter a building and either don’t have the time, or fail to notice the little details that could enlighten our day? HODs gives us all the opportunity to pause for a moment, to reflect on our past and learn something new”. 

In Nicky’s words, HODs allows Winchester to celebrate what it’s best known for - its heritage! 


This year, Gloucester is back with a bang - the bang being their 137 events happening over the festival! The coordinator Emily Knight has been working with HODs for the last three years, and rallies the organisers and volunteers so that local people feel like toursits for a day. When I asked her why HODs is important it Gloucester, she spoke of how...

" allows people to discover more about the hidden gems in Gloucester and as the Heritage sites in Gloucester develop and regenerate, more stories are being uncovered. Thus allowing future generations to enjoy and learn from the past."

Some of our favourites from the amazing programme include the opening of Gloucester Cathedral for crypt tours, bell ringing and a gargoyle trail and also the array of Beatrix Potter related events such as the opening of the Beatrix Potter museum, and the guided walk relating to her story ‘The Tailor of Gloucester’. And, as Emily put it, these events are for everyone and it's all free! 

The beautiful interior of Gloucester Cathedral, which hosts loads of events this September. Image credit to Michael D. Beckwith.


Find out more 




With contributions from Yvette Hayward (Liskeard Town Council), Gillian Rogers (West Suffolk Gov.),  Nicky Gottlieb (Winchester HODS),  Cathy Eden (The Forum, Norwich)  and Emily Knight (Marketing Gloucester).