Thanet venues open the doors for Heritage Open Days

Photo Brian Whitehead

Note: In light of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, please check with individual venues that openings are going ahead.

A statement from national organisers says: “We’re deeply saddened by the news of the death of Her Majesty The Queen. As our longest serving monarch, a leader of integrity and a source of pride and inspiration for generations of people around the world, she’ll be deeply missed.

“After careful consideration, as the festival has already begun, we have taken the decision for Heritage Open Days to go ahead for local communities and to safeguard participants. We will support our extraordinary local organisers to run or cancel their events in whatever way feels right.”

Heritage Open Days takes place this September with 27 Thanet listings.

This year’s event, which has the theme Astounding Inventions, takes place between September 9-18 and is the chance for people to discover architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities for free.

New Thanet venues taking part this year include ‘This Museum is Not Obsolete’ – an interactive museum celebrating experimental electronic technology and the  ‘RAF Manston History Museum’ – aircraft and exhibits illustrating the airfield’s history

Heritage Open Days is coordinated and promoted nationally by the National Trust with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

In Thanet The Ramsgate Society coordinates Heritage Open Days offer after taking over from the council’s tourism team.

Executive committee member Sue Gyde said: “The Ramsgate Society has taken on the role to ensure HODs is a success every year. Earlier this year I held an information evening at The Yarrow Hotel for all previous and potential participants and invited one of the National Trust coordinators to address the group and answer questions.

“Then I visit some but not all venues/participants to discuss and plan what they are going to do, ferret out new participants and encourage them to take part, for example, last year Ramsgate Tunnels and Palace Cinema, this year This is not Obsolete Museum and RAF Manston Museum.

“We also write and edit all entries to the local brochure and then distribute copies around Thanet. Not all of Thanet’s participants register with the National Trust. The printing of the brochure is paid for by Thanet council and The Ramsgate Society paid for the design and information evening.”

Every single Heritage Open Days event is free, including access to many sites that usually charge for admission.

The Powell-Cotton Museum

Powell Cotton Museum, Quex Park, Birchington, CT7 0BH

Free entry to the museum, Quex House and Gardens.

Complimentary tours will be available of Quex House and the Museum throughout the day according to demand. Entrance to Quex House is by guided tour only.

Discover the museum’s taxidermy animals such as elephants and giraffes and cultural objects from around the globe and archaeology from our local coastline. Children can grab a backpack and discover the museum differently using fun tools and activities. If you want a more gentle pace, join a grade II listed Quex House tour featuring unique Asian-inspired interiors. Quex Gardens features sweeping lawns, winding woodland and a bountiful walled garden. Bring a picnic and enjoy!

Sunday 11 September: 11am – 3pm

No booking required

Dickens House Museum

2 Victoria Parade, Broadstairs, CT10 1QS

Dickens House Museum celebrates Charles Dickens’ long connection with Broadstairs (1837-1851). It is housed in the cottage that was Charles Dickens’ inspiration for the home of Betsey Trotwood in David Copperfield.

Come and see where they regularly had tea with Miss Mary Pearson Strong, according to the reminiscences of Charles Dickens son Charley, and her belief of her right to stop the passage of donkeys in front of her cottage, which became the donkey incident for the character of Betsey Trotwood.

The parlour, described by Dickens and illustrated by Phiz, will be known to readers of David Copperfield. The cupboard in the corner may be recognised as the “press” from which Miss Betsey produced the concoctions she gave and poured down the throat of young David Copperfield.

Visitors to Dickens House Museum will see items that once belonged to Charles Dickens including letters written about Broadstairs, his writing box and mahogany sideboard, along with a fine collection of prints by H K Browne (Phiz), one of Dickens’ principal illustrators. There are also displays of Dickensian memorabilia, Victorian costumes and Victoriana, as well as a feature on “Our English Watering Place”. It was in 1851 that Charles Dickens wrote this affectionate record of the town and its inhabitants.

The museum has a gift shop and is staffed by volunteers, who are passionate about Charles Dickens and happy to guide visitors around the unique house.

Saturday 10 September: 1pm – 4.30pm
Sunday 11 September: 1pm – 4.30pm
Saturday 17 September: 1pm – 4.30pm
Sunday 18 September: 1pm – 4.30pm

No booking required

Palace Cinema Broadstairs

Palace Cinema Broadstairs

Palace Cinema, Harbour Street, Broadstairs, CT10 1ET

See inside Broadstairs’ lovely old Grade II Listed cinema and enjoy wonderful archive films of the town through the eyes of home movie makers 1930s-60s. Arrive at any time to explore the foyer and auditorium and/or join the free illustrated talks.

The Palace has been a full-time cinema since the 1960s, before which it was a hall for hire, a museum, and originally a shipwrights. Between the 1900s-1980s, the town of Broadstairs had several purpose-built cinemas and other places to see a film but today the Palace is the last one standing! A cosy and welcoming place, it attracts locals and holidaymakers alike for its year-round programme of the latest films and classic favourites from around the world, plus special events including silent films with live piano accompaniment.

For Heritage Open Days visitors can explore the auditorium and foyer, with illustrated talks offering a brief history of the Palace and other former Broadstairs cinemas.

Talks go on to explore the ‘astounding invention’ that was the home movie camera! Filmmaking came into homes in the 1920s, but who were these new cine film enthusiasts experimenting with their Ciné-Kodaks and Pathé Babies? In restored archive footage,  enjoy Broadstairs in the 1930s and 1960s on the big screen, not in a newsreel or professionally-made film but through the eyes of home movie makers, one of whom, Enid Briggs, lived and filmed in the town over several years.

Friday 9 September: 1100-1400, Talk 1300-1330
Saturday 10 September: 1100-1400, Talk 1300-1330
Sunday 11 September: 1100-1400, Talk 1300-1330

No booking required

Cliftonville Cultural Space (The shul)

Cliftonville Cultural Space, The Synagogue, Albion Road, Cliftonville, CT9 2HP

A chance to visit the former Margate synagogue (Shul). Find out how The Cliftonville Cultural Space is creating an inclusive, cross-cultural, multi-arts space reflecting the diverse communities of the area whilst retaining the building’s heritage.

The Margate Synagogue (Shul) was built in 1929 and has been deconsecrated since its last use in 2017. It is in Cliftonville West, and has been an important part of the community and is an example of a building of cultural heritage and significance to the history of the local area.

The Cliftonville Cultural Space was formed to save the building from the auction and to work towards the vision of seeing the building become a place to bring people together once more. Since 2017 the building has been closed and this will be an opportunity for volunteers to welcome the community in and for them to have a tour of the building at the early stage of this exciting development. Visitors will be able to see architectural plans for the development of the building and models created by architecture students from the University of Creative Arts.

Saturday 10 September: 1100-1600
Sunday 11 September: 1100-1600
Saturday 17 September: 1100-1600
Sunday 18 September: 1100-1600

No booking required

Draper’s Windmill

Drapers Windmill

Drapers Windmill, St. Peters Footpath, Margate, CT9 2SP

Discover Draper’s Windmill, a restored 19c smock mill, recently returned to grinding by the wind.

Discover and learn about the windmill and see working machinery, including our 100yr old Crossley auxiliary gas engine.
Join tours of all floors of the mill, which will be available subject to operational precautions, or enjoy an informative film, CCTV of the upper floors, and our museum on the lower floor – accessible by 6 easy steps.

The mill will also be grinding the last of this year’s grain, using the Crossely gas engine, and dressed flour will hopefully be available for a small donation. Light refreshments are available for HODs.

Saturday 10 September: 1200-1600
Sunday 11 September: 1200-1600
Sunday 18 September: 1200-1600

No booking required

Hornby Visitor Centre

Photo Steven Collis

Hornby Hobbies, Unit H1-H2, Enterprise Road, Westwood Industrial Estate, Margate, CT9 4JX

A fascinating journey through the history of Britain’s best loved toys. Featuring rare products from the Hornby, Scalextric, Airfix and Corgi archives. Now with more interactive displays and a vertical spiral Scalextric track as seen on James May’s,

The Museum which shows off all brands archives, play on interactive layouts on your way round then lastly a stop in the café for a  cuppa and some homemade cakes or sausage rolls.

Saturday 10 September: 1000-1530
Sunday 18 September: 1000-1530

No booking required

Margate Caves

Photo Carole Adams

Margate Caves, Northdown Road, Margate, CT9 1FG

Explore underground and discover over 200 years of history in Margate

From chalk mines to a rich man’s playground, the Caves have been used in a variety of ways over the years. Welcoming the public on and off since the Victorian era, what will you discover in the subterranean wonderland? Venture down the tunnel, explore the Caves and chat to the friendly team who can spin a tale of years gone by.

Friday 9 September: 1000-1630
Saturday 10 September: 1000-1630
Sunday 11 September: 1000-1630
Wednesday 14 September: 1000-1630
Thursday 15 September: 1000-1630
Friday 16 September: 1000-1630

Pre-booking: Required
To receive free entry your ticket must be booked online in advance.
Booking Contact: Kayleigh McMahon
Call: 01843838048
Email: [email protected]
Go to:

Booking opens: 28 August from 07:00

Organathon  St. John’s Church

Victoria Road, Margate, CT9 1LN

From 10am – 10pm on Sat 17th Sept St John’s Church, Margate, celebrates both their “Astounding” organ and their “Astounding” organist.

David Lammier, supported by organist friends and his Guide Dog Lizzie, is holding an Organathon…with non stop music!

The pipe organ will be played throughout the day and visitors to the church are welcome to drop in and enjoy the performances. Entry free.

Parts of the church date back to 1050 and points of interest include a Tudor font, an exceptional collection of 18th Century hatchments (coats of arms carried in funeral processions) and many memorial tablets with notable local names.

The pop up café is offering refreshments throughout the day but you may want to book an afternoon tea for 1pm, 2.30pm or 4pm, or book a Fish and Chip Supper for 7pm – all accompanied by the sounds of the pipe organ.
Afternoon tea at £5 per head and Fish and Chips at £8 per head can be booked through [email protected]

There are opportunities to sponsor the organists and to donate to request pieces of music as well as a sale of CDs, vinyl and sheet music to suit all tastes.

Keyboard players who would love to try the organ for themselves are welcome to contact us on [email protected] to arrange the chance to play a short piece of music between the main organ recitals.

All money raised will be split between St John’s Church and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

If you visit in the morning you might also be interested in the regular monthly pop up charity shop taking place in the Community Centre next door.

Saturday 17 September: 10.00 to 22.00

No booking required

St John’s Church, Margate, for Kent “Ride and Stride”

St John’s Church, Victoria Road, Margate, CT9 1LN

On Saturday 10th September St John’s Church, Margate is open to visitors. At the same time local people participating in the Kent Ride and Stride will be able to call into the church to have their sponsor forms signed as they visit local churches.

Saturday 10 September: 10.00 to 16.00

No booking required

Monkton Nature Reserve

Monkton Nature Reserve Photo Tom Plastow

Monkton Nature Reserve, Canterbury Road, Monkton,  CT12 4LH

The reserve contains 16 acres of diverse wildlife habitats with two wildlife ponds, many plant and animal species, and a variety of new adventure trails.

Monkton Nature Reserve occupies a former chalk quarry that has been reclaimed by nature. It is home to many plant and animal species and contains some stunning scenery.

The reserve has a range of fun trails for families to enjoy. Search the reserve for beautiful sculptures of our native wildlife or go on the hunt for brass rubbings, fairy houses and fossils! With brand new educational signage around the site, you can learn about British wildlife whilst you enjoy its serenity.

This year there will be guided tours around the Reserve on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th for up to 15 people, bookable on arrival. There will be information sessions in the museum about local history on both days. Weather permitting organisers hope to have stalls selling antique books, crafts, and games.

Saturday 10 September: 1030-1530
Sunday 11 September: 1030-1530

Book on day
Guided tours around the Reserve are bookable on arrival.

St Edward’s Presbytery

St Edwards

St. Edwards Presbytery, St. Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate, CT11 9NY

A rare chance to see inside St Edward’s Presbytery, built by A. W. Pugin, designer of the Palace of Westminster, in 1850 as part of this great architect’s original conception for this exceptional Gothic Revival site on Ramsgate’s West Cliff.

The Presbytery has much restrained Pugin detailing to admire, although this simple house was not given the rich interiors of The Grange. It housed priests for only a few years. In the 1860s, Pugin’s son Edward, also a renowned architect who designed St Augustine’s monastery, added a well-lit studio overlooking the courtyard of The Grange for his own architectural practice. Pugins lived here until 1928 when the Presbytery became part of the monks’ school.

English Heritage acquired the Presbytery, left at risk when the monks moved away, to protect this remarkable Gothic Revival site and enable smaller parties the chance to experience it, and lively Ramsgate too. Today it is normally let for holidays.

The Grange, next door to the Presbytery, will also be open for free over the weekend.

Information sheets and children’s activity packs will be available.

Friday 16 September: 1000-1600
Saturday 17 September: 1000-1600
Sunday 18 September: 1000-1600

Pre-booking: Required
Tickets must be pre-booked via Eventbrite
Go to:

The Grange

The Grange

St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate, CT11 9NY

The Grange was built by A. W. Pugin, designer of the Palace of Westminster, in 1843-4 as his family home. The Grange offers total immersion in the Gothic Revival style – a must for any fan of the Victorian era.

Augustus Pugin came to Ramsgate in 1843, in search of ‘the delight of the sea with catholic architecture and a Library.’ He built The Grange to live out his ideal of life in the Middle Ages in a family home nestling in the shadow of St Augustine’s Church, which he built at his own cost next door, and a benevolent monastery, completed by his son Edward. The Grange reflects Pugin’s belief in the Gothic style as the only true Christian architecture (he was a fervent convert to Catholicism).

Today, The Grange lies at the heart of a Gothic Revival site of exceptional importance and is normally let for holidays by the Landmark Trust. The well-informed team will be on hand to explain the astonishingly rich interiors, including Pugin’s own wallpapers and furniture designs, and the Library where the creativity of this brilliant and eccentric man designed much of the Houses of Parliament as we know it today.

Leaflets on the building’s history and children’s activity packs will be available.

Friday 16 September: 1000-1600
Saturday 17 September: 1000-1600
Sunday 18 September: 1000-1600

Pre-booking: Required
Tickets must be pre-booked via Eventbrite
Go to:

Pugin And St Augustine: Visitor Centre and Shrine

St. Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate CT11 9NY

Pre-booking via [email protected]

Open every day except Tuesday and Sundays –

12.30 pm – 3.30pm

Saturday 17th, workshop £5 – 11am – 4pm

Come and see Pugin’s amazing encaustic tile designs and join a  fun workshop making tiles in the Pugin style with Ceramic Art.

St Laurence Church

St Laurence-in-Thanet Church

St Lawrence High Street, Ramsgate

Saturday September 10th

Church open 10am-3pm with tour at 10am plus Saturday 17th Church open 10am-3pm, tour 10am and Tower talk with tower and 10 bells visit 2pm

St Laurence is a Grade I Listed church, the oldest building in Ramsgate, tracing its history back to 1062.

The monuments, windows and hatchments within the church have interesting stories to tell.

The astounding invention of full circle bell ringing was cutting edge in its day as was the clock!

Ramsgate Tunnels

Photo Dave Stillman

Marina Esplanade, Ramsgate, September 9-18

Beneath Ramsgate lies an abandoned labyrinth of tunnels which extends for more than 3 miles around the town. This unique underground city was constructed as part of the town’s Air Raid Precautions in 1939 and includes a former main line railway tunnel dating back to 1863.

Check directly with Ramsgate Tunnels for dates, times and booking

Hartsdown & Tivoli Parks Heritage Tree Walk

September 10, 2pm-4pm meeting outside Hartsdown House which is found in the leisure centre/football ground area

Find out about the history of Hartsdown and Tivoli Parks.

See some notable trees and learn about their history, ecological value and how to identify various tree species.

Hear about the parks’ past, present and future.

The walk is led by Andrew Nolan.

Pre booking required via [email protected]​​

St George the Martyr Church

Photo Brian Whitehead

Church Hill, Ramsgate

September 10, Church open 10am-3pm with tower tours at 12pm and 3pm plus Crypt tours at 1pm and 2pm

Tower and Crypt Tours (weather permitting; not suitable for Under 8s and children 8 years and older to be accompanied by an adult)

View the astounding invention, the church organ, a Grade II listed organ made by Hill, installed in 1896.

View the Lantern Tower, Dunkirk Memorial Window and Henry Weigall Mural in this Grade I listed church.

Limited access and on-street parking

Ellington Park

Ellington Park

September 10, Open 12pm – 4pm, Park Road, Ramsgate

‘History, Heritage and Murder!’

Visit the beautifully refurbished park and new cafe.

Learn about the history of Ellington Park and St Lawrence parish, including the infamous Sprackling murder.

A fun and informative day for the whole family with historic displays and talks, children’s crafting activities and the Sprackling dog trail!

Margate Museum

Saturday, September 10th, Sunday 11th, Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th 11am-3pm, Market Place, Margate

Come and see 2,500 plus years of the history of “Meregate”.

Also included are specific displays covering the history of “Dreamland”, Paddle Steamers and Holy Trinity Church in Cliftonville.

Learn about the murder at the Hippodrome hotel and you don’t want to miss our ‘Police in Margate’ display. Fancy being locked in a circa 1858 police cell?

Italianate Glasshouse

The Italianate Glasshouse

King George VI Park,Ramsgate,  September 10-11 and 17th, 12pm-2.30pm

The Italianate Glasshouse, a Grade II Listed historic monument, was erected in the grounds of East Cliff Lodge, Sir Moses Montefiore’s 22 acre estate in 1832.

The greenhouse was originally sited at Bretton Hall, Yorkshire.

This delightful glasshouse was renovated in 2005 and is home to a tea garden, the proceeds of which contribute towards the upkeep of the greenhouse.

Montefiore Synagogue

The Montefiore Mausolem

September 11, Open 10am-3pm, entry via Honeysuckle Road, Ramsgate

A chance to see inside the synagogue built by Sir Moses Montefiore in 1833.

The nearby Mausoleum contains the tombs of Sir Moses and Lady Judith Montefiore.

The Synagogue was designed by David Mocatta and was the first synagogue to be built in England by a Jewish architect.

Access is limited due to the historic nature of the buildings. Access to buildings via woodland path.

This Museum Is Not Obsolete

September 11, 1pm – 4pm, 5-7 Church Hill, Ramsgate

An interactive museum full of astounding inventions, revealing some of the history of science and technology.

Fun and educational for all ages.

Come and play with retro music machines, science equipment and games.

Enjoy trying the Furby organ and the Owl organ.

Be amazed by the telephone exchange and 1000 oscillator mega drone.

RAF Manston History Museum

Aircraft at RAF Manston History Museum

September 12, 10am – 4pm, Manston Road

See a variety of post World War II planes and the V1 flying bomb.

See how the inhabitants of Manston and Thanet survived during those dark days of World War II

Find out about Operation Chastise, the DamBuster raid.

The museum displays a number of ejection seats from former and current aircraft

Minster Abbey

Minster Abbey Photo Dan Thomsett,

Church Street, Minster, Open Monday 12th – Friday 16th September for tours at 2pm plus Saturday 17th tour at 11am

Tour the only surviving pre-Reformation monastery in the country still in current use as a religious house.

View the medieval fishponds which provided valuable protein for the monastic orders.

Wander the beautiful flower gardens and visit an exhibition and DVD in the Old Barn about the life of the monastery from 670 AD to the present day.

Spitfire and Hurricane Museum

Photo TDC

September 13-18, 10am – 4pm, Manston Road

The Museum commemorates those who served in defence of this country in WWII through displaying the aircraft and objects they used as well as telling their stories. Central to the display are the iconic Spitfire Mk XVI and Hurricane Mk II.

As an optional extra, visitors can even experience what it is like to fly the famous fighter. Take control of the iconic aircraft with a 10-minute simulated Spitfire flight from London City Airport to Heathrow, with the opportunity to try some aerobatics en route! There is a £10 charge for the simulator sessions. Flights will be sold on a first-come-first- served walk-in basis for this week only.

Ramsgate Maritime Museum

Ramsgate Maritime Museum

September 16, Open 11am- 4pm, Pier Yard, Ramsgate

At the centre of the UK’s only Royal Harbour, the Maritime Museum explores the fascinating maritime history of Ramsgate.

The Museum is situated within the Grade II* listed Clock House – an exhibit in its own right – built in 1817 to the design of Benjamin Wyatt and George Louch. The Clock House is also the site of the unique Ramsgate Meridian, from which our own particular Mean Time, 5 mins 41 secs ahead of Greenwich, was calculated.

There are four galleries of displays and exhibits telling the maritime history of the area – the Harbour, Navigation, Fishing, Lifeboats and Shipwrecks.

Access is limited around the museum due to the historic nature of the building. Toilet facilities and parking nearby

Spencer Square Ramsgate

Vincent van Gogh sculpture at Spencer Square Photo Frank Leppard

September 18, Open Noon-3pm

Friends of Spencer Square Presents ‘Tea and Cake with Van Gogh’

Spencer Square, a beautiful Georgian square, is the perfect place to take a break and relax with Van Gogh during your heritage trail! Find Van Gogh’s former home at No.11, where he lodged in 1876. View the bust of Vincent Van Gogh, donated by artist Antony Padgett and read the visitor information board.

Spencer Square is maintained and paid for by a group of local volunteers. Come and enjoy a cuppa and a cake, your donation will help the garden to grow and be enjoyed by everyone.

Good access. Street parking nearby.

Find more details at


Comments are closed.