Save the Date! - Heritage Open Days returns 6-15 September 2024

Norfolk Heritage Open Days 2019

An actor dressed as Queen Victoria with ruff and pearls stands next to a child who is a history fan and has their thumbs up

In 2019 Heritage Open Days (HODs) celebrated its 25th anniversary and for the first time ever, took place across ten days from 13-22 September.  

Visitors across Norfolk enjoyed tours, talks, walks, open days, exhibitions, performances, workshops and much more, exploring local communities and taking a sneaky peek inside places that aren’t always open to the public. HODs gave visitors an opportunity to meet new people, soak up stories and make fascinating discoveries about Norfolk’s hidden heritage. 

Festival Facts 2019 

  • 378 Norfolk events 

  • 80,000 visitors and 6,000 pre-booked tickets allocated  

  • £867,000 economic activity generated in Norfolk 

  • 97% agreed that their HODs experience was enjoyable 

  • 92% were inspired to visit more heritage sites / cultural events 

  • 89% agreed HODs is a great way of bringing different people in the community together 

“This is the 2nd year we have attended the events and thought they were even better than before. We love them and can’t wait for next year!”

Norfolk HODs visitor

Portraits of Life 

Portraits of Life was community engagement social history project, which celebrated some of Norwich’s long-gone communities. 

After the Second World War and the subsequent redevelopment in the early 70s, the streets of Norwich looked very different. Gone were rows and rows of terraced houses and narrow shopping streets. Professional photographer Jack Roberts, who died in 2005, captured some of those areas and his photographs had never been publicly seen before, until this exhibition. 

Photographer Bill Smith and Journalist Derek James became custodians of the negatives of Jack’s work. Bill digitised all the negatives in order to be able to save the work for the future, demonstrating how important old photographic negatives can be in retrieving every detail of a moment in time. 

We worked with Norwich participants through the generations to reveal stories through an exhibition of Jack’s work. We invited members of the public who had lived, worked and played in the streets that Jack captured to come and tell us their stories about growing up in these communities. We recorded the participants’ stories and produced a compilation of work, which was presented as an audible commentary to complement Jack’s photographs as part of the exhibition. 

The photographs and oral history recordings have now been deposited at the Norfolk Record Office for preservation. Attracting 3,500 visitors, the project was devised and produced by The Forum Trust, in collaboration with Bill Smith and Derek James, and supported by Archant, The John Jarrold Trust and The Paul Bassham Charitable Trust. 

Dare to Dream 

Each year HODs’ special initiative, Unsung Stories, highlights our heritage stories through a creative arts project. Award-winning activist Sarah Corbett, Founder of the Craftivist Collective, delivered one of four national #DareToDream craftivism workshops at The Forum, Norwich, exploring stories of those in history who made their vision for a better world into a reality.  

Inspired by these stories and learning about heritage, participants stitched their own dreams and aspirations on to clouds to be displayed in their communities. 

“It was a pleasure and privilege to work with the Norfolk HODs team as part of the national Dare To Dream craftivism project. We gained media coverage from local radio, local newspapers to local magazines and blogs and both of our workshops quickly became fully booked with a waiting list of people keen to attend. I would work with the team again in a flash – I think they are bold, brave and brilliantly organised as well as so welcoming and accommodating.”

Sarah Corbett, Founder Craftivist Collective