We always enjoy participating in Heritage Open Days, but it was particularly inspiring this year to see so many historic buildings open again after an extremely challenging year for heritage.
Why we take part
Furthermore, making and sustaining volunteer contacts is vital to us. HODs gives our local volunteers a chance to show off the building they care about so much, which may see very few visitors during the rest of the year. Because our churches are redundant places of worship, there is no active congregation to help look after and fundraise for the building, so we treasure the local people who step forward to do this. HODs is an important opportunity for local friends to meet and recruit potential new volunteers.
What we do for HODs
We try to include as many of our English churches as possible in Heritage Open Days and we’re dependent on local volunteers to help us do this. Each church has its own special features, and volunteers are really important in sharing these - they can open your eyes to the architectural curiosities of a church.
Events can be simply volunteer-run open days, talks, or larger occasions that link up with other local historic buildings. Lately, of course, it’s not been possible to host many large events, but we hope to see even bigger and better events happening for HODs in future years.
The difference it makes
Community hub highlight
A highlight of our Heritage Open Days listings is the family-friendly Open Day at Papworth St Agnes in Cambridgeshire. The village is tiny, with only one road in and out, and has no pub, shop or post office. The locals have adopted the church as their community centre, though, and hold harvest suppers and carol services there despite it no longer being an active place of worship.
Heritage Open Day is a real landmark in the village calendar when they welcome visitors from far and wide. In 2021, volunteers embraced the theme of ‘Edible England’ and opened the church with an array of homemade cakes and bread, jams and chutneys for sale. Classic and vintage cars and tractors were on display, along with a treasure hunt for the children. The village bakehouse near the church was open too, with interpretation on its traditional role in producing food for the village. It is so wonderful to see all this come from a church that used to be ’friendless’ and could have been demolished.