A host of Fylde buildings will be opening their doors over the coming days to mark the annual Heritage Open Days weekend.
Heritage Open Days was established in 1994 as England’s contribution to the European Heritage Days event and has since grown into the country’s largest heritage festival, with more than 5,000 free events set for the next four days nationally, with the theme ‘Treasure Your Treasures’.
Fylde’s extensive involvement includes tours of the bell tower at St Annes Parish Church, one of 300 church bell towers across the country opening up and offering hands-on demonstrations for the first time.
The Parish Church is offering the opportunity to visit the bell tower, view the bells, and even have a go at ringing at regular intervals between 10.30am and 3.30pm on Saturday.
The tours, not suitable for children under eight, must be pre-booked by calling Stuart Newton on (01253) 725958 or emailing email@example.com.
The Parish Church is also marking Heritage Open Days this year with an expansion of its Churchyard War Memorial Trail first established in 2014.
The trail, which originally featured 39 memorials from the First World War, has been expanded to include another five of the dead of that conflict and 11 memorials of the dead of the Second World War, making 55 in all.
The memorials have been individually adopted by members of the church congregation and the local community and each gravestone has a marker board with information about the man and his background, and the circumstances of his death.
The War Memorial Trail is accessible daily in the churchyard and will be in place from Heritage Open Days until Remembrance Sunday, with guide books available from the St Annes Parish Office.
Meanwhile, St Annes’ St Thomas Church will be opening its doors for tours of its 20th century stained glass.
The tours will be led by Peter Watson at 3pm tomorrow and Saturday and admission is free.
Vicar Rev Chris Scargill said: “The windows are works of art. The magnificent west window depicts the Creation and the east window over the high altar illustrates the ancient hymn of praise, the Benedicite, ”
The White Church at Fairhaven will be open from 10.30am to 4pm today, 10.30 until 2pm tomorrow and 10.45am to 4pm on Sunday, while Lytham Methodist Church, opens its doors, with tours of its stained glass windows available, from 10.30 to 3.30 today and tomorrow and 10.30 to 3.30 on Saturday, with an organist performing on Saturday from noon to 2pm.
Fylde Town Hall on St Annes Promenade will also be among the buildings open to view, as will Matlock House at 300 Clifton Drive South, St Annes, which was built in 1877, just two years after the foundation of the town.
Matlock House was where the Local Board of Health, which preceded the establishment of a Town Council, first met.
Lytham’s Windmill and Old Lifeboat House museum will both be open from 10.30am to 1pm and 2 to 4.30pm on all four days of Heritage Weekend, while on Sunday at Lytham Hall there will be the rare opportunity to visit some of the buildings in its parkland, such as the gatehouse, dovecote, privy, cottage and stables, between 11am and 4pm.
As Hall volunteers will be involved in the tours of the parkland buildings, the Hall itself will be closed on Sunday but Hall guided tours are available on Thursdays and Fridays at 1pm and 2.30pm, or on Sundays after Heritage Open Day at 11.30am, 1pm or 2.30pm.
Lytham Heritage Centre, currently featuring the work of artist Ken Roberts, is open from 10am to 4pm on all four days of the Heritage Open event, while AKS school on Clifton Drive South, St Annes, is open on Saturday from 11am to 3pm, with tours of the building - established more than 100 years ago as King Edward School – at noon and 2pm.
Broadcaster Loyd Grossman is a patron of Heritage Open Days and said: “Heritage Open Days and its army of volunteers play an important role in championing our wonderfully diverse local heritage, opening up doors and keeping access free for these very special four days every year.
“Don’t miss this once-a-year chance to be a tourist in your own town and treasure the treasures on your doorstep.”