Family history themed events at Heritage Open Days 2023


21 June 2023
National Holocaust Centre and Museum, copyright Heritage Open Days
The country’s largest festival of history and culture returns this September with a packed programme of free events. Read on for a curated selection of events with a family history theme.

Findmypast Live at Quarry Bank: Explore your family history

National Trust, Quarry Bank Mill, Quarry Bank Road, Styal, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 4LA

Are there mysteries hidden in your family history? Findmypast’s team of genealogy experts will help visitors unravel their pasts and inspire their futures against the backdrop of the historic Quarry Bank, Cheshire. In collaboration with the National Trust, this unique experience will take visitors back in time to meet their ancestors, unlocking amazing family stories, secrets and surprises along the way.


Free access to Findmypast's billions of online records offers the chance to make exciting family discoveries and eye-opening talks from genealogy experts will reveal the life-changing power of family research.

Sunday 17 September: 1100-1500. No booking required

Dunshay Manor: an Arts & Crafts family home with a creative past

Dunshay Manor, Haycrafts Lane, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 3EB

For most of the 20th century, Dunshay Manor, near Harman's Cross, was home to a remarkable artistic family: George and Hilda Spencer Watson, and their daughter, renowned sculptor Mary Spencer Watson, who bequeathed the house to the Landmark Trust. Dunshay Manor breathes history, lying hidden in its own hollow a couple of miles from the Dorset coast. This ancient house received an Arts & Crafts refurbishment in the 1900s, giving it a friendly, open feel.

Saturday 9 September: 1000-1600

Sunday 10 September: 1000-1600

Pre-booking: Preferred

A Treasure Trove of Toys: A Brighton Toy and Model Museum Tour

Brighton Toy & Model Museum, 52-55 Trafalgar Street, Brighton & Hove, East Sussex, BN1 4EB

Looking to revisit your childhood? Or in turn, want to see what your parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents used to play with? …… Then you will enjoy a visit to Brighton Toy and Model Museum, home to one of the world's finest collections. Situated under Brighton station, you will find a treasure trove of over 12,000 exhibits on display, including collections of toys from over the last 100 years, examples from the world’s top toy makers plus a priceless model train collection. Hear all about the exciting pre-war Dinky collection – over 400 colourful rare models, many of which are in their original shop display boxes! 

Saturday 16 September: Tours: 1600-1700 & 1700-1800

Booking Details

Pre-booking: Required

Ballard School Open Day

Ballard School, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hampshire, BH25 5SU

Ballard School - once home to the Ubsdell family with original opens its doors to its 34 acre estate Arts and Crafts features. Designed in the early 1900s our main school building and grounds still retain typical period features from the day, despite having been a school and an army base. Tours will be led by staff and alumni of the school who have particular interest in the Great Ballard Estate, the Ubsdell family and local history. The dedicated Heritage Room includes plaques and photographs depicting the journey of Ballard from a country estate to a modern, thriving school. Come unlock Ballard's many hidden treasures.

Saturday 16 September: Tours 09:30, 10:30 & 11:30

Pre-booking: Required

Mid Norfolk Family History Society

Church House, Church Street, Dereham, Norfolk, NR19 1DN

Come and research your family history both in Mid Norfolk and beyond. Drop in for tips and advice from our members, and explore the local records that that the society have collected and published about Mid Norfolk family history. Lots of help available for all those interested in all types of history and historical research. Elusive ancestors, your house and the local area can all be unlocked.

Saturday 9 September: 1000-1600

Saturday 16 September: 1000-1600

No booking required

The National Holocaust Centre and Museum

Beth-Shalom, Laxton, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG22 0PA

Explore The National Holocaust Centre and Museum: Britain's first ever place of Holocaust remembrance and learning. Having evolved over 25 years from a single exhibition in a rural family home into a nationally accredited museum, it was founded by the remarkable Smith family. The centre boasts beautiful, reflective memorial gardens and powerful exhibitions. The museum welcomes families to visit 'The Journey' exhibition, a multi-platform experience immersing you in the life of Leo, a young Jewish boy in 1930's Berlin, and his escape on the Kindertransport.

Age guidance: The main exhibition is suitable for ages 14+, and The Journey is for ages 8+.

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Monday 11 September: 1000-1630 

Tuesday 12 September: 1000-1630 

Wednesday 13 September: 1000-1630 

Thursday 14 September: 1000-1630 

Friday 15 September: 1000-1630 

Sunday 17 September: 1000-1630 

(last entry into the Exhibitions at 1530)

Pre-booking: Preferred

St Thomas’ Church Heritage Day

St Thomas' Church, Church Green, Brompton, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL6 2QT

Brompton parish church has a 1000 year history and the village is mentioned in Domesday. Five Anglo Danish hogback stones, of an original eleven found here, are displayed in the church along with Anglo Saxon sculpture: a ninth century cross shaft, two complete wheel head crosses and three other fragments of wheel head crosses. Explore the local history at this stunning site.

Saturday 16 September: 2 pm - 4 pm

No booking required

Creativity Unwrapped: Art Endures

Community Hub, Wombwell Cemetery, Cemetery Road, Wombwell, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S73 8HY

Wombwell was awash with architects, artists, dancers, musicians, poets, and more! Join us and Wombwell History Group as we unwrap the creative minds of Wombwell, sharing their stories and work so their talents and memories can live on! The Friends of Wombwell Cemetery and Wombwell History Group are teaming up once again to bring you information about Wombwell's interesting individuals. This time, we'll be looking at known artists, dramatics, writers, musicians and more. 

Friday 15 September: 1000-1600

Saturday 16 September: 1000-1600

No booking required

Colne Valley Museum

Colne Valley Museum, Cliffe Ash, Golcar, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, HD7 4PY

Head to Colne Valley Museum for baking demonstrations, tours of the Well and meet the Huddersfield & District Family History Society to answer family & local history queries, alongside weaving, spinning and clogging demonstrations.

Saturday 9 September: 1200-1600

Sunday 10 September: 1200-1600

Saturday 16 September: 1200-1600

Sunday 17 September: 1200-1600

No booking required

A Visit to Leeds Workhouse

Thackray Medical Museum, 141 Beckett Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 7LN

Find out about life within the old stone walls of this Victorian workhouse, now the site of the Thackray Museum of Medicine. Heritage volunteers have been piecing together the histories of hundreds of local people who lived (and died) at Leeds Union Workhouse between 1861 and 1944. In this in-depth talk, you'll hear about the good and the bad - from a destitute dance instructor to the criminal dubbed the 'Terror of the Workhouse'. You'll also learn how this imposing institution developed and which buildings still stand on the St James's Hospital site. Why not follow it up with a walk around Beckett Street Cemetery, where many inmates ultimately ended their days? Volunteers will be on hand to answer your questions on family history and workhouse life.

Friday 8 September: 1130-1230 & 1400-1500

Pre-booking: Required