The Thanet venues opening doors for Heritage Open Days this month

Birchington Map Exhibition is one of the Heritage Open Days attractions

Every September, the country’s architecture and culture is celebrated during Heritage Open Days, when many historical buildings open to the public for free.

This year Heritage Open Days, take place between Friday 9th – Sunday 18th September, with the theme ‘Creativity Unwrapped’

A number of venues in Thanet are taking part and a new addition this year is Margate’s Crab Museum.

Look out for a free programme for this year’s festival at Visitor Information Centres or at host venues and find details at

Margate Caves

Explore the Margate Caves Photo Frank Leppard

September 8-10 and September 13-17, 10am-4.30pm

Pre-booking tours a must! Tours 30 minutes long

Explore underground and discover over 200 years of history in Margate.

Under the hill of Cliftonville lies the Margate caves. From chalk mines to a rich man’s playground the caves have been used in a variety of ways over the years. Open to the public on and off since Victorian times, venture down the tunnel, explore the caves and chat to the friendly team who can spin tales of years gone by.

Saturday 16th – Tiles of Joy at Margate Caves
Jayne Wright brings her ‘Tiles of Joy’ to the caves. Create a tile as part of a community art project. Pre-booking a must! Tile-making class 11am–2pm (no entry to caves)

1 Northdown Road, Margate

St Laurence Church

St Laurence-in-Thanet Church

Saturday 9th and Saturday 16th September, Church open 10am-3pm with church tour 10am and churchyard tour 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!

High Street, St Lawrence, Ramsgate

St George the Martyr Church

Photo Brian Whitehead

Saturday 9thSeptember,  Church open 10am-3pm – tower tours at 11:30am and 2pm, crypt tours at 12pm and 2:30pm and Yard Sale Market 11am-3pm

Saturday 16th Church open 10am-3pm – tower tours at 11am and 1:30pm, crypt tours at 11:30am and 2pm and ‘Unsinkable People’ 3pm

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.

Church Hill/ Broad Street, Ramsgate

Powell-Cotton Museum

Powell-Cotton Museum

September 9, Open 11am-3pm

Free entry to the Museum, Quex House * (entrance by Guided Tour only) and Gardens.

Why not arrive early and bring a picnic to make a full day of it?

Complimentary tours will be available of Quex House and the Museum throughout the day according to demand.

The Museum has a world of exciting objects to discover. From our famous taxidermy animals such as elephants and giraffes to cultural objects from around the globe and archaeology from our local coastline, there is something for everyone to enjoy. 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 feature sweeping lawns, winding woodland and a bountiful walled garden. Bring a picnic and enjoy.

Powell Cotton Museum, Quex Park, Birchington

Ramsgate Tunnels

Ramsgate Tunnels Photo Carole Adams

September 9, Talk at 11am and repeated at 1pm.

Tunnel Tours normal operation at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm Adult £9, Child £6, Senior £7. Must be booked

Come along to a talk ‘Make Do and Mend – Creativity in Wartime’ by Isaac Naylor.

Beneath Ramsgate lies an abandoned labyrinth of tunnels which extends for more than 3 miles under the town. This unique underground city was constructed as part of the town’s air raid precautions in 1939 and includes a former mainline railway tunnel dating back to 1863.

Marina Esplanade, Ramsgate

Dreamland Heritage Trust

Mick Tomlinson, chairman of Dreamland Heritage Trust

Saturday 9th – Sunday 10th and Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th 11am–4pm Dreamland’s main concourse opposite the ballroom

Discover 100 years of Dreamland’s incredible history at the ‘Dreamcatcher’ exhibition. Record your own memories of Dreamland for the archive in the custom-built Dreamcatcher booth.

September 16, 3pm-4pm,Take a look back at Britain’s ‘Greatest Showman” Lord George Sanger, who in the 1870’s brought his menagerie of animals and zoological gardens to Dreamland, Margate.

Find out about this fascinating Victorian circus innovator, the performers he brought to Margate, and how his influence shaped the future of our town.

Talk by local historian and Dreamland Heritage Trustee Carl Hudson.

Location: Ballroom at Dreamland Margate

Pre-booking a must at

St John’s Church

Saturday 9th 10am-4pm with tour at 2pm and organist performances at 11am and 1pm.

Sunday 10th 12pm–4pm with organist performance at 1:30pm

St John’s has been a place of worship since 1050. Points of interest include its Norman origins, a stone font dating from 1485, funeral hatchments bearing coats of arms, stained glass and a carved reredos. The young JMW Turner painted St John’s, and the gravestone of Mrs. Booth, his landlady, stands in the churchyard.

Join St John’s Church, Margate, in celebrating the church’s history during Heritage Open Days. The church will be celebrating the festival theme ‘Creativity Unwrapped’ with a pop up cafe selling cakes and savouries and a stall selling handmade crafts and cards.

*Saturday – Local historian, Robin Colyer, will give a guided church tour.

*Saturday & Sunday – Home baking, handmade crafts and special performances by organist David Lammler.

Visitors of all ages are invited to explore their creativity by sketching their own view of St John’s and comparing it with Turner’s. Materials provided.

Victoria Road, Margate

Margate Museum

Saturday 9th, Sunday 10th, Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th 11am-3pm

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 Metropole Hotel and you don’t want to miss our ‘Police in Margate’ display. Fancy being locked in a circa 1858 police cell?

Market Place, Margate

Monkton Nature Reserve

Monkton Nature Reserve

September 9-10, Open 10am – 4pm – Guided tours bookable on arrival

Monkton Nature Reserve occupies a former chalk quarry that has been reclaimed by nature. The reserve contains 16 acres of diverse wildlife habitats with two ponds and many plant and animal species.

The reserve has new adventure 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. There will be local history sessions in the museum and stalls selling antique books, crafts and games.

Canterbury Road, Monkton

Dickens House Museum

Dickens House Museum

Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th and Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th open 1pm-4.30pm for tours

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.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the museum opening, a new walking trail has been launched. Come and follow in the footsteps of this world famous author who spent almost two years in Broadstairs.

2 Victoria Parade, Broadstairs

Drapers Windmill

Drapers Windmill

Saturday 9th, Sunday 10th, Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th, noon – 4pm

This 170 year old smock mill is grinding once again following restoration. See it in operation, subject to wind conditions.

Easy steps lead into the ground floor where a film and CCTV give you sight of what is happening. Higher floors are accessible to more agile visitors.

Light refreshments are available for HOD’s.

St. Peters Footpath, Margate

Cliftonville Cultural Space

Inside the Cliftonville synagogue

Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th and Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th September 11am – 4pm

Now named ARK based at the newly refurbished in the former Margate synagogue. The site was built in 1929 and retains a number of original features including decorative stained glass windows and the ladies’ gallery.

Visit the ‘Cliftonville Voices’ exhibition which commemorates the rich Jewish history of the area as well as celebrating its current diverse communities. The history of Cliftonville is explored through neighbourhood resident interviews, past and present, using film, displays and an immersive soundscape.

Joy C Martindale, a local artist, led refugee and migrant mothers, as part of the United Mothers Project, in Margate and Samphire, Dover, to create the art show ‘Mother Trees Connect the Forest’. Come along to view this glorious and fascinating show

1 Albion Road, Cliftonville

Minster Abbey

Dan Thomsett, Minster Abbey

Saturday 9th and Saturday 16th 11am-noon for tours plus Tuesday 12th – Saturday 16th Open Grounds 10am-4pm

Outside tour by a sister of the only surviving pre-Reformation Abbey in the country still in current use as a religious house.

Chapel open for quiet individual prayer. At 12:15pm pray with the sisters.

Visit the Parkminster grounds to see the medieval fishponds and the beautiful flower gardens.

View an exhibition with DVD in the Old Barn about the life of the monastery from 670 AD to the present day.

Tearooms. Good accessibility; toilets and accessible parking on the abbey’s driveway, near the entrance

Church Street, Minster

Birchington Heritage Trust

Church House in Birchington

September 10, Birchington Map Exhibition Open 2pm-5pm

With Ordnance Survey maps dating back to 1877, information on former surveying methods, lost buildings/sites of interest, and the feature 1840 Tithe Map on display, this event will not want to be missed by people living in, or having connections with the local area.

Entry is free, and light refreshments are available by donation throughout the event.

More information published closer to event and available on Birchington Heritage Trust website, Facebook page and at the museum

Church House, Kent Gardens, Birchington

This Museum Is Not Obsolete

September 10, 1pm – 4pm

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.

Church Hill, Ramsgate

Montefiore Synagogue

The Montefiore Synagogue and Mausoleum Photo Brian Whitehead

September 10, Open 10am-3pm

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.

Honeysuckle Road, Ramsgate

Ellington Park

Ellington Park

September 10, Open 11am – 4pm

Come along to celebrate the 130th anniversary of Ellington Park becoming a public park.

A fun and informative day for the whole family with historic displays and talks, a variety of performers and children’s crafting activities.

Park Road, Ramsgate

Spitfire and Hurricane Museum

September 12-17, Open 10am – 4pm

The Museum commemorates those who served in World War II through exhibiting 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.

For £10 (a reduction on normal price), you can ‘fly’ the famous Spitfire. Take control of the iconic aircraft with a 10-minute simulated flight from London City Airport to Heathrow, with the opportunity to try some aerobatics en-route! Flights will be sold on a first-come-first-served walk-in basis during this event.

Manston Road, Ramsgate

Palace Cinema

The Palace Cinema is Broadstairs is managing the project

Friday 15th open 1pm-4pm, talk at 2pm and Saturday 16th open 11am-2pm, talk at noon. Pre-booked talks are a must

Explore the unique story of the Palace, then take your seat for a talk about Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate as film locations! From the 1940s to Empire of Light, hear about local film heritage on screen.

See inside Broadstairs’ lovely old Grade II listed cinema and explore the foyer and auditorium. With displays and children’s activity sheets.

Harbour Street, Broadstairs

The Grange & St Edward’s Presbytery

The Grange

Open Friday 15th – Monday 18th 10am – 4pm, Tuesday 19th 10am-1pm

Free Admission but entry preferred in advance via EventBrite (pre-booking is preferred but walk-ins’ are welcome on the day)

The Grange was built by Augustus Pugin in 1845 and remained in the family until 1928. The building reflects Pugin’s belief in the Gothic style as the only true Christian architecture and his ideal to live out his life in the Middle Ages. Pugin produced some of his finest work at The Grange, including designs for the House of Lords.

A rare chance to see inside St. Edward’s Presbytery, built by Augustus Pugin in 1850 as part of this great architect’s original conception for this exceptional Gothic revival site on Ramsgate’s West Cliffs.

Picnics in the grounds welcome.

St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate

West of the Brooks Walk

September 16,  walk starts at 2pm

Robin Colyer will be leading a local history walk on behalf of Margate Civic Society – a special walk as part of the Heritage Open Days looking at the development of Westbrook and Hartsdown Park.

The walk starts at the railway station, Margate.

There is a donation charge of at least £3 for the walk, which lasts approximately an hour and a half.

For further details please phone 07878 537448

Italianate Glasshouse

Italianate Glasshouse

Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th , noon-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.

King George VI Memorial Park, Ramsgate

Crab Museum

Margate’s Crab Museum

September 16-17, Open 11am-4.30pm

Visit Europe’s only museum dedicated to the world of the decapod.

Discover the secrets of these remarkable animals, from the story of the giant Margate crab to what the extinct Sooty Crayfish has in common with fidget spinners.

9 Broad Street, Margate

Spencer Square Ramsgate

Vincent van Gogh sculpture at Spencer Square Photo Frank Leppard

September 17, open noon-4pm

Spencer Square, a beautiful Georgian square, is the perfect place to take a break and relax with Van Gogh, a bust donated by artist Antony Padgett. Find Van Gogh’s former home at No.11, where he lodged in 1876.

Spencer Square is run by a group of local volunteers. In honour of Vincent there will be an open air art exhibition by local artists.

Come and enjoy a cuppa and a cake at Vincent’s cafe and a free tennis taster in the adjacent tennis courts.

Donations to Friends of Spencer Square will help the garden grow to be enjoyed by everyone.


  1. Last year Minster Abbey was listed, so I contacted them for details of admission etc… I was told they weren’t opening for anyone, and was listed without their approval! Hope it’s better organised this year.

  2. Why are the Ramsgate Tunnels charging as normal if it is supposed to be open heritage days? The idea has always been free or reduced entrance to the events!

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