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Lovers In A Past Life

Your guide to Heritage Open Days in North Lancashire

Lancaster Priory

Many of North Lancashire's historic buildings will be open to the public as part of the annual Heritage Open Days.

Running from September 9 to 18, Heritage Open Days take place across the country, giving people the chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences. 

Upcoming Heritage Open Days still to take place in our local area include at:


Lancaster Priory

Discover the history of Lancaster’s parish church which has been the site of Christian worship since Saxon times.

Lancaster Priory is open from 9am to 4pm everyday.

Scheduled events at the Priory for Heritage Open Days have been suspended following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Services will continue.


The Storey

View the beautiful Gallery at the heart of this Grade II listed building founded in 1887 as a place for education and arts.

The Gallery’s first art exhibition in 1889 included paintings by Gainsborough, Constable, and Canaletto and within the space stands a rare marble statue of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert together, commissioned by Thomas Storey for Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee in 1887.

En route to the Gallery, visitors can see the magnificent Shrigley and Hunt stained glass window, an ode to the arts with references to those famous in these fields.

Event times: September 13-16, 9am-7pm; September 17, 9am-5pm.


The Storey Gardens 

Venture Behind the Georgian Wall of this historic ‘secret’ oasis to find out how the Georgians invented walled kitchen gardens perfect for growing fruits, vegetables and fruit trees.

From 1720 to the 1950s the gardens belonged to a Georgian house opposite Lancaster Castle. Until the 1930s the west garden was the kitchen garden. The east garden was used by the family for recreational purposes with its fashionable patterned brick garden wall.

Event times: September 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17: 9am-5pm.


Luneside Arts Studio, Castle Park, Lancaster

Meet the artists, view the group exhibition, explore studio spaces and see work in progress.

Take the opportunity to learn about the history of the studios which opened in 1983 and is one of  the longest-running artist studio groups in the North West.

Initially located on the second floor of St. George’s Works on St. George’s Quay, the studios relocated to Castle Park in 2008.  Work produced there includes painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, 3D work, collage, photography and design.

Event times: September 17, 10am-4pm and September 18, 12-4pm.


King Street Studios, Lancaster

Climb the Escher like staircase in this 1930s building, rebuilt in Art Deco style, and visit the usually private artist spaces.

This is a unique opportunity to talk with artists and see a range of artwork both complete and in progress. There will also be an exhibition of selected work in the gallery.

Event times: September 17, 10am-4pm and September 18, 12-4pm.


The Music Room, Sun Street, Lancaster

Delight in the exceptional Baroque interior of this beautiful building which started life in about 1730 as a garden pavilion and whose walls celebrate the Muses of eloquence, history, music, astronomy, tragedy, rhetoric, dancing, comedy and amorous poetry.

History sheets and a children’s activity sheet will be available.

Event times:  September 17 and 18, 10am-4pm.


Lancaster Maritime Museum

Have fun discovering what, when, who, where and most importantly why, on this free Astounding Inventions family trail around the Museum.

Look out for objects that came about simply because somebody somewhere was finding something difficult; whether it was crossing a river, transporting rum, or even trying to keep their feet dry!

Event times: September 17 & 18, 10am-4pm


Lancaster Grand Theatre

Meet some of the well known performers and prominent individuals connected to one of the UK’s oldest provincial working theatres which is celebrating its 240th anniversary.

Learn about the history of the theatre from the likes of Charles Dickens and Sarah Siddons plus other Grand guests, all who have appeared or been an integral part of Lancaster Grand Theatre since it opened in 1792.Children’s activity packs will be provided plus a chance to win tickets to this year’s pantomime!

Event time: September 17, 10am-1pm.


Christ Church, Lancaster

Samuel Gregson MP built Christ Church as a chapel for Lancaster Workhouse. Inmates would attend on Sundays and sit in a special part of the building to join in worship, and many hundreds of workhouse babies were christened there.

Christ Church will also be open to visitors wishing to admire its magnificent stained glass and stunning baptistery. The garden and orchard of this Eco-Church has beautiful views across to the Lakeland fells.

A concert due to take place tonight (September 12) has been cancelled following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Event times: Workhouse event – September 17, 7-9pm. Church – September 17, 10am-4pm; September 18, 11.30am-6pm (services at 8.30am, 10.30am & 6pm);


St Wilfrid's Church, Halton

Find  the unique Sigurd Cross, showing scenes from the Viking story of the dragon slayer, in the churchyard and take a tour up the tower of this historic church with its wonderful views of Lancaster and the Lune Valley.

Children’s activities, stalls and light refreshments will be available too.

Event time: September 17, 11am-4pm.


Halton Mill, Halton

Learn how the ‘Luneside Car’ came to be in the late 1940s while touring the former home of Luneside Engineering.

Recently discovered at the back of a scrapyard and thought to be the remains of a post war prototype ‘People’s Car’, The Kendall/Hartnett car chassis will be on display and a film of interviews with former staff will be launched.

Event time: September 17, 10am-4pm. Film launch, 2pm.


Sts Thomas and Elizabeth RC Church, Thurnham Hall, Lancaster

Explore the first Catholic church to be built in the Lancaster area since the Reformation.

The church opened in 1845, replacing the chapel built in 1818, and on display will be Victorian vestments and treasures including the Pugin monstrance, as seen on BBC1’s Antiques Roadshow.  The grounds contain an 1830s mausoleum of the Gillow family.

Event times: September 17 and 18, 12-5pm.


Ryelands Park, Lancaster

Stroll through Ryelands Park and Lune Bank Gardens, both gifted to the people of Lancaster by Lord Ashton, the ‘Lino King.’

Lune Bank Gardens, once overgrown and hazardous, are being lovingly restored by a team of volunteers, who will be available to chat about their work on September 13.

Event times:  Lune Bank Gardens open all day until September 18 (Volunteers around on September 13)


The Alhambra, Morecambe 

Follow in the footsteps of Sir Laurence Olivier by visiting this 121-year-old theatre which was a setting for the 1960 film version of John Osborne’s ‘The Entertainer’.

After a fire gutted the interior in 1970, extensive refurbishment saw the building re-opening in 1973 as The Inn on the Bay before renaming itself The Carleton Club, becoming a top events venue and one of the great Northern Soul dance clubs.

The building was in danger of becoming derelict but in 2017, a team began working to restore the building,  now called Alhambra Live. An exhibition about its history – Morecambe’s Palace: the Alhambra’s Legacy – will be on display.

Event times: September 18: 2-6pm.


Leighton Hall near Carnforth

Admire the beauty inside and out of this historic yet very much ‘lived in’ house, home of the Gillow Reynolds furniture making dynasty.

All visits include a guided house tour, birds of prey flying display and access to the formal gardens. There’s also time for refreshments in the charming tearooms.

Event time: September 14, 11am-4pm. Birds of prey display, 1.30pm (weather permitting)


Morecambe Heritage Centre, Arndale, Morecambe

See ‘The Train Now Standing’ exhibition focusing on Morecambe’s railway history.

Event times: September 13, 15 & 17, 11.30am-3.30pm (exhibition).


There will also be a Walking Back To Yesteryear tour where you can follow a costumed guide on a Georgian & Regency Tour of Lancaster in 1803.

Setting off from Market Square, coachman, ‘Johnnie’ Nathaniel Eccleston will use role-play and replica items to provide an exciting insight into the social and political history of early modern Lancaster, taking in some of Lancaster’s beautiful historic buildings along the way.

Event time: September 16, 10.30am-noon.

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