Did you know Newcastle has England’s highest concentrations of listed buildings? Many of these beautiful and historic structures are open for free during the Heritage Open Days. Read my complete guide to some of the amazing Newcastle buildings to visit during Heritage Open Days. Grab the chance to explore them while you can.
Anyone who knows Newcastle will know it is home to many striking historic buildings. During the Heritage Open Days many of these will be opening their doors allowing the public to visit for free. Read on to discover some of the places that you really should explore.
The Heritage Open Days celebrate England’s architecture and culture by throwing open the doors of historical landmarks. These buildings are either not normally open to the public or charge an entrance fee. It is a great chance to explore places for free. There are usually special tours and events running.
The Heritage Open Days began in 1994 and are now in their 25th year. It is a great celebration of local history and culture that takes place across the UK.
You can find more information about events near you on the Heritage Open Days website. You can search by location to find all the events near you.
Whilst the events are free some do need booking and they fill up fast. If you want to attend it is best to have a look and book now so you don’t miss out.
Every year the Heritage Open Days take place in September. This year the festival will run from 13th – 22nd September.
There are many surprising and interesting places open across the UK during the Heritage Open Days. Here I have found some of the most interesting places to visit in Newcastle Upon Tyne and North East England to help you plan your visits.
Newcastle Upon Tyne has a wealth of historical buildings that are well worth a visit. I have tried to group them together by area so you can visit two or three in one go.
How would you like to take a tour of Newcastle by vintage bus? Climb on a bus which has been lovingly restored by the Aycliffe and District Bus Preservation Society and get a guided tour of the historic buildings around Newcastle.
The tour starts at the Civic Centre, goes along Grainger Street, past Central Station and stops at Newcastle Castle. It also takes in the Ouseburn Basin. It is a unique way to see Newcastle.
Read more: Vintage bus tour of Newcastle
Tours take place on:
You do need to pre-book so do it now as tours will fill up quickly. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/heritage-tour-of-newcastle-by-vintage-bus-tickets-62050807636
The Civic Centre is an iconic building in the centre of Newcastle but have you ever been inside? You may have gone to register a birth or marriage or to the customer service centre. Why not sign up for a unique tour to see inside the Civic Centre Banqueting Suite and the Lord Mayors Silver Gallery?
The tour takes place on Saturday 21 September between 12.00 and 1.30. You do need to prebook – contact [email protected]
It is also worth exploring outside the Civic Centre as they several unique art pieces that are worth a look.
Read more: The art of the Civic Centre
The Grainger Market is a covered market in the centre of Newcastle that has been there since 1835. It is still a vibrant market today with plenty of places to get fruit and vegetables, meat, bread, cakes, clothes and an eclectic mix of street food. Notable features are the weigh house and the smallest and oldest branch of Marks and Spencers.
Read more: The Grainger Market
The market is open daily between 9.00 and 17.30. During the Heritage Open Days you can take a tour of the Grainger market. These start at 14.00 and run from the 13th September till the 20th September, excluding Sunday 15th.
Newcastle’s old quarter is the historic heart of Newcastle and there is much of interest to see around here.
Newcastle Castle is a Norman stone keep that gives Newcastle its name. The keep is built on the site of the original Roman fortress Pons Aelius and it stands over looking the River Tyne. As well as the keep you can also visit The Black Gate which which King Henry III built later.
The castle is really interesting to look around and has amazing views across Newcastle from the roof. Be prepared for steep stone steps.
Read more: A visit to Newcastle Castle
The castle is open for Heritage Open Days on Friday 13th September and Saturday 14th September between 10.00 and 17.00. Last entry is 16.15
Find out more about the castle: http://www.newcastlecastle.co.uk/
The Vermont Hotel stands just behind Newcastle Castle and is a great place to visit if you fancy afternoon tea in opulent surroundings.
Read more: Afternoon tea at the Vermont Hotel
Just round the corner from Newcastle Castle you will find St Nicholas Cathedral which is also part of the medieval heart of Newcastle. The Cathedral is 14th Century but it also has a Lantern Tower which is 15th Century. For many centuries the lantern tower would help to guide ships up the river Tyne.
Inside you will find plenty of interest in the memorials and monuments that recall figures from Newcastle’s past. Of particular interest is the Collingwood Monument dedicated to Admiral Lord Collingwood. Best known of taking over command at the Battle of Trafalgar after the death of Nelson, he was baptised and married in the cathedral.
Read more: A visit to St Nicholas Cathedral
Whilst the cathedral is open most days during the Heritage Open Days they are offering the rare chance to climb the 163 steps to the top of the Lantern Tower and see the view.
Dare you climb the tower runs on Friday 13th September at 10.00, 12.00 and 12.00 and Saturday 14th September at 10.00 and 12.00.
You do need to pre-book: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/newcastle-cathedral-dare-you-climb-the-tower-tickets-63383808678
While you are at the cathedral have a look around the back and see if you can spot the vampire rabbit.
Read more: The Vampire Rabbit
The Lit & Phil is an independent library in Newcastle which has been in existence since 1825. It is so much more than a library. Over the years it has been a place to spark discussion and ignite ideas. During the industrial revolution is was a place of firsts, including the first demonstration of the electric light bulb.
If you have not been in you really must visit, it is like no library you have ever been in before. You really get a sense of history as you walk around. It is also the largest independent library outside London.
Read more: A visit to the Lit & Phil
Whilst the Lit & Phil always welcomes visitors there are tours available during the Heritage Open Days.
You do need to pre-book: https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/the-lit-phil
Newcastle’s quayside is a vibrant place to visit with many bars and restaurants. There are also plenty of historic buildings which are not always open to the public.Bessie Surtees House
Any city grows up around the river and Newcastle is no exception. During Jacobean times the quayside was full of merchants houses. Today a few of them remain and Bessie Surtees house is an example.
There are two five story 16th and 17th Century merchants houses next to each other. Bessie Surtees house is best know for being the house from which Bessie eloped with John Scott, through the first floor window. John Scott went on to become Lord Chancellor of England.
Read more: A visit to Bessie Surtees house
Bessie Surtess house is open to the public between 10.00 and 16.00 from 13th September to 20th September, excluding Sunday.
On Saturday 14th September they are running tours of the rooms that are not usually accessible to the public. These run between 10.00 and 17.00. You need to prebook, see https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/bessie-surtees-house3
The Swing Bridge is one of the more overlooked bridges across the River Tyne being overshadowed by the Tyne Bridge and the High Level Bridge. In fact it is one of the most iconic bridges that cross the river.
The bridge was built by Lord Armstrong and uses water from the river to power the hydraulic engines that swing the bridge round. It was well ahead of its time and opened the upper reaches of the river to trade.
Read more: Inside the Swing Bridge
During the Heritage Open Days you have the chance to see inside the Swing Bridge and see how it works. It is a fascinating tour and well worth booking.
Tours take place on:
You need to pre-book here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/heritage-open-days-swing-bridge-tours-tickets-63536998874
Found on the Broad Chare, Trinity House is one of the best kept secrets on the quayside. During the fifteenth century a group of seafarers created a charitable guild on the quayside to support the growing maritime community. Part of their work involves training river pilots.
Inside Trinity House you will find wonderful historic rooms, including a hidden chapel and an amazing banqueting hall. It also contains numerous treasures and maritime artefacts, you really do need to visit.
Tours take place on Friday 13th September and Saturday 21st September from 10.00 – 15.00 pm.
Read more: A visit to Trinity House
Have you been to any of these places before? Are you planning to visit any Newcastle buildings during the Heritage Open Days? Let me know below.
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