Join in with a celebration of our heritage

Lady Waterford Hall in Ford.  Picture by Jane Coltman
Lady Waterford Hall in Ford. Picture by Jane Coltman

An annual celebration of heritage and culture takes place this September, offering exhibitions, talks and the chance to explore historic buildings for free.

This year’s national Heritage Open Days scheme has an extraordinary women theme and runs from today until Sunday, and then Thursday, September 13, to Sunday, September 16 – and various locations in Northumberland are taking part.

One village which will be a hive of activity is Belford.

From today until Sunday, there will be a special exhibition in the village’s museum, from 10am to 4pm, looking at the history of the high street, with the opportunity to find out about past occupants of the houses and shops and what they got up to.

During the course of the exhibition, you will learn about the steward who drowned returning from Holy Island in 1790 and the vet who seemed to practise under false pretences.

There will also be the chance to see the recently donated Broomhouse Cup and learn more about the Rifle Volunteers whose trophy it was.

On Sunday, there will be an opportunity to learn about Isabella Ferguson, one of Belford’s extraordinary women, at the exhibition in the hall named after her – the Ferguson Hall, in Nursery Lane.

The same day, more extraordinary women will be celebrated in an illustrated talk focusing on the roles of fisherwomen, entitled Crans, Creels and Tunes, by Iris McMillan at Bell View at 2.30pm.

On September 13, at 7.30pm at Bell View, Cameron Robertson will give an illustrated talk on Berwick’s celebrated sweet, the Berwick Cockle.

On September 15 and 16, there will be guided tours of parts of Belford Hall (11am to 4pm), and the Ecological Self Build House (noon to 4pm); the Museum High Street exhibition is again open and the Rifle Volunteer Cup on display.

At 2.30pm on September 16, Chris Hunwick will give an illustrated talk on Alnwick Castle and the First World War.

As part of the celebrations of extraordinary women, the Lady Waterford Hall, at the Ford and Etal Estates, will be free to explore this Saturday and Sunday, as well as Saturday, September 15.

This year, the hall is celebrating 200 years since the birth of Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, who lived at Ford Castle from 1860 until her death in 1891, and did much to help the community, including a school – now the hall – for local children.

Some of her stunning life-size watercolour murals adorn the walls along with smaller sketches and paintings by Louisa.

Other venues to be taking part in the Heritage Open Days include Alnwick’s Bailiffgate Museum, Cragend Farm and Cragside, both in Rothbury, and Woodhorn. Morpeth also has various events planned.

For full details, visit heritageopendays.org.uk