The weekend of 13 to 15 September saw Northampton come to life with the annual Heritage Open Days activities!

Every September, thousands of volunteers across the country gather to celebrate the heritage of their local towns with history, architecture and culture for a range of free events. Northampton was not short of activities for the whole family to enjoy. This event was coordinated locally by Northampton Borough Council.

As always, I found myself navigating down to see what all the hustle and bustle was about and ended up having a full day out in Northampton town trying new experiences, learning lots and having more reason to love our town…

Heritage Fair at Abington Park Museum
Our day began at Abington Park Museum, which is one of Northampton’s most finest 15th century buildings and inside, folk were gathering to see the various stallholders and what they had to offer from Northampton’s rich history.

Inside, we had FridgeStreet, who capture beautiful buildings in Northampton and paint them into miniature sized fridge magnets, which include some of the heritage buildings themselves. There was also a stall for 78 Derngate, who were heavily involved in the Heritage Open Days (more on them below) as well as the Northampton Transport Heritage and even a very ‘Kinky’ stand from Jeyes of Earls Barton who host the Kinky Boots exhibition showcasing Northamptonshire’s Heritage of the Boot and Shoe industry.

There was lots to explore inside, including the museum itself which we got to walk around where you’ll find the stunning Oak Room, A Victorian Cabinet of Curiosities of Northamptonshire’s Military History and the 19th Century Fashion Gallery and much more. It was a great start to our day that was full of heritage learning.

All Saints Church
Many will know All Saints Church is the home of The Good Loaf, but it is also a Wren styled church built in 1680 which has been serving the parishioners of the town since medieval times.

We walked around and read about some of the many facts and figures of the church, including, did you know that the building was destroyed in the 1675 Great Fire of Northampton and following the fire, King Charles II gave 1,000 tonnes of timber from his Royal forests at Salcey and Rockingham to help rebuild the church. That’s why his statue can be seen sitting above the carved portico to commemorate his donation.

Everywhere we turned, there was another glistening site to see from the gothic interiors, the Ring of Ten Bells and the painted glass windows.

Heritage Bus Tours
Similar to when I visited the Heritage Festival a few weeks back, the Northampton Transport Heritage were back to give the locals of Northampton a free ride on their classic heritage buses, linking to most of the participating venues. It was a great way to get from place to place and all of them were coming from George Row, right next to where we had just visited.

There were seven different routes available on the day, some going as far as right outside Northampton to places like Blisworth. We happened to jump on the H1 Northern Circular route which started at George Row, through Abington and Kingsthorpe, Sheep Street then back again.

It’s amazing how much you see when you’re sat on the top deck and we were able to jump on and off at our own leisure to walk around and take in more of Northampton.

Hazelrigg House
As well as the home of Looking Glass Theatre, Hazelrigg House is also a grade II listed Tudor house, which is one of the town’s oldest domestic buildings, built in approx. 1570. It was one of the few structures that survived during the Great Fire of Northampton in 1675 and looking upon it when we visited, you could see a lot of its original design was still in tact.

Hazelrigg House is located on Mare Fair and is made of two storey sandstone and the name originates from the Hazelrigg family who owned it for many years.

78 Derngate
Our final stop of the day was 78 Derngate, which was a first time visit for me. We ventured inside to have a look and to complete our full day of Heritage learning.

78 Derngate is an award-winning house which is the only property outside of Scotland designed by the famous Glaswegian Art Deco architect and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. We got to walk around the house, taking in all the information. I particularly enjoyed seeing all the art deco inspired souvenirs which were on sale for people to take home, plus the bright, airy art galleries inside the building.

Overall, the Heritage Open Days opened my eyes to just how much history and architecture is situated here in Northampton. Thanks to this annual event, I got to explore places I have never visited before and I came away learning so much more about the town I am so passionate about.

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