Milton Keynes is celebrating its 15th annual Heritage Open Days season in September; 10 days of terrific events that are family friendly and free.
When it launched, there were just 15 events held across the new town. This year – despite the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic – organisers have assembled a brilliant programme with more than 100 events to engage with.
Discover something different on your doorstep; perhaps you will choose to go behind the scenes at one of our venues, take a tour of the local magistrate court, or enjoy a beer at the local history hub. After an incredibly difficult year, our heritage ands culture venues need your support more than ever. The MK theme in 2020 is ReOpen, and if you can support the venues with a donation or a purchase, you will be helping to ensure their survival.
Heritage Open Days run between September 11 and 20. Sammy Jones has a taster of what is on offer.
Ridgmont Station Heritage Centre
The award-winning Victorian station house and booking office is a fascinating visit, and includes a collection of exhibits in the museum. It also boasts a gift shop and vintage tea room.
Times: 10am-4pm, September 11-20 (with the exception of Monday, September 14).
Where: Station Road, Ridgmont, MK43 0XP
T: 01525 287121
Wild Times @TheOldSchool
Children and young people with an interest in wildlife and nature will love this opportunity to watch the antics of the wildlife that lives at the Old School, captured with motion detection cameras. An expert ecologist will identify the feathered, furry, scaly and hairy visitors and an interactive table display will hold attentions.
Pre-booking is advised, and The Old School Cafe will be serving teas, coffees and cake.
Times: 10.30am-1.30pm, September 11 & 12
Where: The Old School, Old Wolverton Road, Old Wolverton, MK12 5NH
Pilgrim Trail Walk – Exploring Shenley & Loughton
A four mile circular walk that will take you along some of the middle section of the Pilgrim Trail, exploring the heritage and medieval history that can be found in the area, against a backdrop of churches, coaching inns, medieval fishponds and landscaped surroundings. A delightful way to spend a couple of hours of your day.
Times: 10.30am-12.30pm, September 12
Where: Meet at the car park in St Mary’s Church, Dudley Hill, Shenley Church End, MK5 6LL
T: 07530 349967
Simpson’s Nature: Past, Present and Future
A guided walk around the village with the Simpson History Group, exploring the world of nature and the village’s heritage. The stroll will take in St Thomas’s churchyard, the 18th century enclosures and the Grand Union Canal
Times: 2.30-4.30pm, September 12 & 13
Where: Starts from Simpson Village Hall, MK6 3AD
T: 01908 670570
The Gardens of Central Milton Keynes – Guided Walk
Tim Skelton will lead the way on this walk which will call in at many of the squares, gardens and parks of our central area – some of them better known than others. And as you take in the sights, you can also show your appreciation for some of MKs splendid public art collection, including Wendy Taylor’s Octo.
Times: 2-4pm, September 12
Where: Meet at the front of the Civic Offices, at the junction of Silbury Boulevard and Saxon Gate, MK9 3EJ. T: 01908 604655
Get Cycling Guided Bike Ride
Hop in the saddle and use pedal power to explore some of the Heritage Open Day events – experienced ride leaders will be up front, so you’ll not get lost!
Times: 1.30pm-4.30pm, September 13
Where: The ride will start – and end – at Milton Keynes Museum, McConnell Drive, Wolverton, MK12 5EL
North Crawley Field Walk
Get away from it all with a Field Walk in North Crawley, and a commentary on the field names and historically important features. The walk will be at a nice leisurely pace (four miles in two hours) and there will be some stiles to hop over. Trousers and sturdy footwear are recommended – leave the slippers and stilettos on the shoe rack at home for this one!
Times: 2-4pm, September 12
Where: Meet outside St Firmin’s Church, High Street, North Crawley, MK16 9LL. T: 01234 391205
Bradwell Abbey Medieval Mystery Play
Guaranteed to be the only place in the new town where you can enjoy a newly-commissioned traditional Medieval Mystery Play on a pageant wagon! A terrific opportunity to learn more about the Abbey’s pilgrim stories and the monks who lived there.
This ticketed event will also be live-streamed.
Times: September 13, 12.30pm for a 1pm start
Where: Meet at The Cruck Barn, Bradwell Abbey, Alston Drive, MK13 9AP
Wolverton Green Spaces – Urb Farm Open Afternoon
Investigate the peaceful green haven tucked away in the heart of Wolverton.
Urb Farm is home to the horticultural social enterprise Growing People, which trains young people outside of the mainstream school system. They learn everything from sowing seeds to harvesting the produce and making jams and chutneys.
Times: September 15, 3pm-5pm & September 17, 1-3pm
Where: The Urb Farm, between 196 & 198 Windsor Street, Wolverton, MK12 5DR. T: 01908 311112
Guided Tours of the MK Rose
Take a 40-minute guided tour of the rose, which is used for commemoration, celebration and contemplation. It was designed by artist Gordon Young; the respected artist who is also responsible for the Ring of Steel at Stadium MK. A great opportunity to learn more about the pillars which tell the story of our history and heritage – from the Father of Loud day, to the pillar remembering New Bradwell’s Albert French, a 16-year-old casualty of WWI.
Times: September 13, 2pm & 3pm
Where: The MK Rose, Campbell Park
Behind The Wall – Illustrated talks about Wolverton Works
Respected railway journalist and author Phil Marsh will be giving a series of lectures detailing the social, economic, royal history and hidden nature of the world’s oldest continually open main line railway works at Wolverton. A photographic exhibition will also support the events. Pre-booking is essential.
Times: September 13 & 20, 2.30-4pm
Where: The Old Bath House, 205 Stratford Road, Wolverton, MK12 5RL
MK Magistrate Court Tour
Here’s a rare chance to stand in the dock, with no need to worry! These tours will be escorted visits by magistrates; an opportunity to explore the room, sit on the bench and be briefed about the work of the court and the sentencing procedure. Pre-booking is required.
Times: September 14,15 & 16, 9.30am-12.45pm and 1.30-2.30pm. T: 07967 657077
Where: MK Magistrates Court, 301 Silbury Boulevard, MK9 2AJ
MK Museum Open Days & Beer Festival
This year’s beer festival will be an al-fresco affair, and you are asked to bring your own tankards or glasses. Choose from a selection of ales and ciders and sup in the pretty museum grounds. The museum will also be open for pre-booked visits only.
Times: 11am-4.30pm, September 17-20
Where: MK Museum, McConnell Drive, Wolverton
T: 01908 316222
Guided Walks – Uncovering the History of Great Linford Manor Park
A family-friendly historic guided walk through the picturesque park. A great opportunity to learn more about the ancient buildings and features in the park, and the characters who have lived there over the centuries.
Times: September 18*, 19, 20, 10.30am, 11.30am & 3pm (*2.30pm on Sept 18)
Where: MK Arts Centre, Parklands, Great Linford, MK14 5DZ
Open Afternoon at Keach’s Meeting House, Winslow
An opportunity to take a look inside this small Baptist chapel dating back more than 300 years, which has open-backed benches, box pews, a gallery, pulpit, communion table and memorial tablets. Information on the life of Baptist preacher Benjamin Keach and the history of Baptists in Winslow will be on display.
Times: September 19, 2-5pm
Where: Bell Walk, Winslow, MK18 3AH
Friends of Linford Lakes Nature Reserve Open Sunday
Join with the Friends of the Nature Reserve and see exhibits in the centre, try birdwatching and follow the trail through the reserve, and if all that leaves you in need of a little refreshment, the education centre will serve up goodies and brews.
Times: September 20, 10am-4pm
Where: Linford Lakes Nature Reserve, Wolverton Road, Great Linford, MK14 5AH
T: 01908 255379
Other events taking attentions during this year’s Heritage Open Days will include a chance to step inside Bradwell Windmill (September 12, 1.30-4.30pm), which is one of the few windmills in Buckinghamshire that still produces wholemeal flour, and another opportunity to watch 3 Curly Wurly’s and 106 Roundabouts, showing ‘how Milton Keynes was made and what made Milton Keynes.’
A number of self-guided tours and trails are also being offered; including Newport Pagnell Walking Trails and MK Trails – using Wolverton, Soulbury & Olney Trail apps.
You can even get involved in HOD’s without leaving your computer – as Arts For Health present the Virtual Collection, a chance to see more of the largest permanent collection of public art in the Borough, and Westbury Arts Centre will host its Hidden Jewel Virtual Exhibition.
For full details of all events, pick up one of the event Heritage ReOpen Days guides available at outlets across Milton Keynes or visit heritageopendays.org.uk