Celebrate Fenland’s history at heritage weekend

Some of the historic venues that will be open over the heritage weekend.

Some of the historic venues that will be open over the heritage weekend. - Credit: Archant

The March Society is encouraging local people to do something new this weekend as part of an annual event.

March Museum

March Museum - Credit: Archant

Running until Sunday (September 10), historic buildings and venues across Fenland will open for free as part of the Heritage Open Days series.

March railway station

March railway station - Credit: Archant

Organised by The National Trust, Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture, bringing together over 2,500 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000

March Library

March Library - Credit: Archant


Members of The March Society

Members of The March Society - Credit: Archant

A spokesman said: “Every year for four days in September, places across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history.

Ye Olde Griffin

Ye Olde Griffin - Credit: Archant

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“It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – and it’s all free. Throughout the entire weekend March Cambridgeshire History Group will be displaying old photos on walls and in shop windows.

St. Wendreda’s Church in Church St, March

St. Wendreda’s Church in Church St, March - Credit: Archant

“If you know of any place, object or heritage story that would make a good event for next year, please let us know so that we can have some new and different things involved.

St. Wendreda’s Church in Church St, March

St. Wendreda’s Church in Church St, March - Credit: Archant

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“We hope you will enjoy the things that we have managed to compile for this

Chatteris Museum

Chatteris Museum - Credit: Archant


St Peter's Church and Hall.

St Peter's Church and Hall. - Credit: Archant

For more information about what is going on elsewhere visit https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/

Wisbech & Fenland Museum

Wisbech & Fenland Museum - Credit: Archant

Official opening of the Poppy Link initiative by the Friends of St Augustine’s Church in Wisbech.

Official opening of the Poppy Link initiative by the Friends of St Augustine’s Church in Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

Here’s our guide of what’s going on in March this year

Octavia Hill Birthplace House & Museum

Octavia Hill Birthplace House & Museum - Credit: Archant

Wisbech Masonic Hall

Wisbech Masonic Hall - Credit: Archant

All Weekend

St Peter’s Church Tour

Come and find out about St Peter’s Church’s history and see the stained glass windows. The clock is believed to date from the late 17th Century and to be the oldest working mechanical object in March, erected in the old market buildings in 1832 and when the buildings were demolished in 1898, the clock was given to St Peter’s church by Mr George Sharman. The bell was made in 1832 in Downham Market and weighed five hundredweight. Tours of the church take place over the Heritage Open Days Weekend from 2-5-pm on Friday and 12-3pm on Saturday. No booking required.

St Wendreda’s Church Tour

St Wendreda’s Church is the only Grade I listed building in the town. Almost certainly the current church is built on the site of an earlier Saxon timber church. Wendreda was a daughter of the Saxon King Anna and, in the 7th century, established a mission on the site to minister to the poor and needy. The church was enlarged in the 1340s to house the shrine of the relics of St Wendreda, translated from Canterbury Cathedral in 1343, and became a place of pilgrimage. The great glory of St Wendreda’s Church, for which it receives world renown, is its ancient double-hammer beamed roof, which is adorned with 118 carved Angels, making it almost unique. A wonderful example of the woodcarvers art, the roof was built between 1470 and 1520. No booking required. Open from 11am to 2pm on Thursday and Friday, and at 2pm on Saturday.

History of R. B. Johnson & Co

Perhaps the oldest business that started in March and is still going strong after 178 years of trading in the town, R. B. Johnson & Co - on 6-8 Dartford Road - will host an exhibition in the shop showing some of its history. It will be open from 9.15am to 5pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. No booking required. Directions: turn left at the top of Broad Street, at the fountain and follow Dartford Road on left.

Friday September 8

Anness Family Exhibition

An exhibition including the bier donated to the town by the family together with the stained glass window in the church. Members of the March Museum Society will be on hand to answer questions from 10am-12pm and 2-4pm on Friday, and after the morning service at 9.30am on Sunday. No booking required.

Saturday September 9

Guided Walks

Andrew Clarke, secretary of the March Society, will focus on taking in some of the architectural and historical highlights of March during several 40-minute guided walks between 10am and 2pm tomorrow, Saturday September 9.

Guide dogs only, children must be accompanied by adults. Ideal size of group is 15, but no need to book, just turn up on the day.

Meet at Barclays Bank plc, 2 Broad Street, March.

Library Sessions

March Library will be holding an open session from 10am to 12noon to promote the resources available, including OS maps from 1887, road maps from 1972, local studies books and pamphlets, some original Cambs Times newspapers from 1917s. There will be a member of staff available to demonstrate and direct to the different resources available. No booking required. Take passageway beside river to enter West End Park.

Railway open day

The railway first came to March on December 10 1846 and was open to the public in January 1847. The platforms were opened on November 23 1885. The Friends of March Station group was formed in August 2009 to rejuvenate the disused side of the station. The Heritage Open Days event, from 10am to 2pm, will include a number of railway related displays and a display by the March Society. There will also be a raffle, charity stalls and refreshments. No booking required. Approach from the north side of level crossing.

History of March

Browse and view the Grade Two listed March and District Museum. See the special exhibition on the World War II submarine ORP Dzik, formerly P52, purchased by the people of March and district, which served with the Polish Navy. Entry free, contributions to the museum welcomed. Museum membership available. Open from 10.30am until 3.30pm on Saturday and Sunday. No booking required.

Sunday September 10

A stroll through the history of Broad Street, March, with Jennifer Lawler. Meet by the bridge across the road from Clarks in Broad Street at 2.30pm. No booking required.

Here’s our guide of what’s going on in Wisbech this year:

A chance to learn more about exciting plans for Wisbech High Street will be just one of the opportunities on offer during this year’s national Heritage Open Days.

One of the events will focus on the Wisbech High Street Project, a four-year initiative to repair and restore properties on the High Street and bring empty, derelict properties back to life.

The project is being delivered by Fenland District Council thanks to a £1.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with support from Cambridgeshire County Council, Wisbech Town Council and Wisbech Society.

A spokesman said: “People can find out about the work that’s gone on behind the scenes since the project launched in January, with a display at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum on Saturday September 9.

“The display, which will also include photographs and adverts of old shops, will be open from 10am until 4pm.

“There will also be tours of the High Street starting at No 20 (William H Brown Estate Agents) at 12pm and 3pm.

“The tours will look at the architecture of the historic buildings and there will also be an opportunity to look inside ‘The Gap’ site at No 24, where a building collapsed 30 years ago, and learn about plans to transform it into a new area for public use.”

Fenland District Council’s conservation officer Nicola Duncan-Finn will also be providing an insight into the heritage of old buildings during the Open Days event with a talk titled ‘Heritage Significance and Values’.

The talk, organised by Chatteris Civic Society, is being held at the Cross Keys Hotel in Chatteris on Friday, September 8, at 7.30pm.

Councillor Michelle Tanfield, the council’s cabinet member responsible for tourism, said: “The events are run entirely by volunteers and there’s something for everyone over the four days.

“It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – all of which are free to explore.”

For more information about all the Open Days events visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk or www.visitcambridgeshirefens.org

Wisbech Heritage Open Day

Wisbech General Cemetery will be open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday September 9.

This attractive and peaceful corner of Wisbech originated in 1836, one of the first Victorian burial grounds in the country, primarily for non-conformists.

This is now a haven for wildlife and a woodland habitat which is a rarity in this part of fenland.

There will also be cemetery records (The Friends of Wisbech General Cemetery) on show and displays by The Wisbech Society showing the plans for the chapel restoration.

There will also be a guided walk around the cemetery by Sue Beel, chairman of the group, at 2pm.

St Augustine’s Heritage and Poppy Weekend

The church will be open 10am - 4pm from Friday 7 to Sunday 10 September.

Now in its fourth year commemorating WW1 the exhibition focuses on the Battle of Paschendale along with the history of men from Wisbech who died in WW1.

There will be a service at 2pm on Friday 8 where the Royal British Legion will be celebrating three veterans who have won the highest honour from France.

The Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Mrs Julie Spence, will be in attendance on Friday 8.

On Saturday 9 the Mayor of Wisbech, Cllr Steve Tierney, will be visiting the church where the Wisbech cadet, Explorers and Boy Scouts will be raising tents in front of the church and cooking their own food WW1 style, along with a nursing station.

Tea, coffee and cakes will be available on Friday and Saturday.

Historians, genealogists, WW! artefacts, sewing tombola, raffle and lots more.

‘Bring Your High Street Photos’ at Wisbech & Fenland Museum

Share your stories and find out the latest update on the Wisbech Town Regeneration from 10am to 4pm on Saturday September 9. Project officer Taleyna Fletcher will talk about the high street regeneration activity and present slideshows at 11.30am and 1.30pm.

Wisbech Masonic Hall

Visitors will be able to view the Masonic meeting rooms and to learn about what freemasonry does, its local heritage and charitable giving from 10am to 3pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Experienced members will be available to provide advice as well as complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits.

The building, which is listed, was originally a Methodist Chapel with many features of the original building still visible.

Fenland Historic Building Conservation Fair

The Society for Ancient Buildings (SPAB) and Fenland District Council will be jointly running a Building Conservation Fair from 10.30am on Saturday September 9.

Traditional craftsmen, to include a thatcher and joiner amongst others, will be demonstrating their crafts during the day and there will be a ‘Conservation Clinic’ manned by conservation professionals offering free advice in relation to the sustainable management, care and repair of historic buildings. The SPAB will also have a stall along with other local and national heritage organisations.

During the course of the day there will be two thirty minute informal talks, the first at 11.30AM will relate to ‘Conservation Areas’ and the second scheduled at 2.30pm will be linked to the ‘Importance of Maintenance in Historic Buildings of Traditional Construction’. Suppliers of traditional building materials will also be in attendance on the day.

The open air event will be held in ‘Centenary Green ‘ on South Brink which is linked with the Octavia Hill Museum roughly opposite Peckover House on North Brink.

Peckover House Heritage Open Day

Peckover House & Garden will be open free of charge for non-National Trust members on Saturday September 9 from 11am to 4pm.

Come and explore the history of the house and the wonderful two-acre Victorian garden. We are working on a project in partnership with the Arts Council, called Trust New Art - an exciting new presentation of the house in 2018. The artists we are working with - Sarah Evans and David Kefford (Aid and Abet) will be on site to tell visitors more about the project.

Chatteris Museum

Between 10am and 4pm come down to the museum to join in with a number of activities including the unveiling of the Great Fire of Chatteris screen printed banner and Chatteris in Myth and Memory exhibition, get involved with arts workshops throughout the day, find out more about the Chatteris in Myth and Memory book and get your own copy, make your addition to Wysing Arts New Geographies project and enjoy full access to the museum.

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