Heritage sites across Eastbourne will be opening their doors this weekend with free entry and exclusive tours as part of the nationwide Heritage Open Days event.
Visitors and residents can take a sneak peek inside some of Eastbourne’s most treasured assets, as well as celebrating Napoleonic life in a special re-enactment event at the Redoubt Fortress.
Providing exclusive entry to some locations not normally open to the public, this is an opportunity to unravel the fascinating history behind the normally closed doors of the 13th Century Wilmington Priory, to hear stories of rats and ruins at the Motcombe Dovecote, or to admire the ornate beauty of the 18th Century Hermitage in Manor Gardens.
At the Redoubt Fortress, a packed two-day programme of Napoleonic events includes musket drills, gruesome Georgian battlefield surgery, camp life, cookery, drumming and a fully-fledged re-enactment of an attempt to take the Redoubt.
Councillor Margaret Bannister said, “Eastbourne holds a unique and fascinating history from our early beginnings in Old Town to our Napoleonic defences and latter development as a Victorian seaside resort. This weekend is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in our rich history and imagine life in Eastbourne as it once was.”
Also joining the programme for 2016, The Birley Centre looks back on the remarkable history of Eastbourne College, dating back to 1967, and Towner offer a behind the scenes glimpse of its impressive art collection.
The wonderful grade II listed St Michael and All Angels Church in Willingdon Road will be open to explore, while St Mary’s in Old Town offers an extensive history dating back to the 12th Century.
The Wish Tower and Eastbourne Heritage Centre will be opening up their doors once again, while the Pavilion’s Bronze Age exhibition, Leaf Hall and the Royal Hippodrome Theatre will be offering special tours.
A guided walk of the East of the Pier heritage trail will also be available, starting at the Redoubt, or download the ‘Eastbourne Trails’ app for free on iPhone, iPad and Android devices.
Full programme includes (all free entry):
• Eastbourne Heritage Centre – Thurs-Sun, 10am–4pm
• The Pavilion – Thurs–Sun, 10am–5pm, plus Thurs tour 2pm
• The Hermitage, Manor Gardens – Thurs–Sun, 11am–2pm
• Leaf Hall – Thurs–Sun, 11am–3pm, tours at 11.30am
• Royal Hippodrome – Thurs only 10am–4pm, tours 10.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm & 2.30pm
• Wilmington Priory – Fri–Sun, 10am–4pm
• St Mary’s Church – Fri & Sat 10am–12pm, plus Fri 2–5pm
• St Michael and All Angels Church – Sat only, 10am–12pm
• Towner Art Gallery – Sat 11am tour
• Redoubt Fortress museum - Sat 10am–5pm, tours at 11am & 2.30pm
• Napoleonic Life at the Redoubt (Parade Ground) – Sat & Sun, 10am–5pm
• The Birley Centre (Eastbourne College) – Sat & Sun 11am–4pm
• The Wish Tower – Sat & Sun, 11am–3pm
• Motcombe Dovecote – Sun 12pm–4pm
• East of the Pier Heritage Trail – guided walk from Redoubt, Sun 10am-12pm
For more information visit www.visiteastbourne.com or www.eastbournemuseums.co.uk