Unheard Voices & Unseen Spaces

Horncastle is set to take part in the nation's biggest free festival of history, as Heritage Open Days returns this month. There will be free events across town focusing on the long weekend from Friday 10th to Monday 13th September. For full listings visit the events page.

The annual festival sees historic sites across the country opening their doors for free, including many not usually open to the public, plus a host of free walks, talks and exhibitions.

This year's theme, set by organisers at Heritage Lincolnshire, is 'Unheard Voices'. Here in Horncastle there will be events exploring less well known parts of the town's history, as well as chances to visit unseen places that might usually be off limits.

Visitors can discover the secret garden hidden in the historic heart of Horncastle, at the headquarters of Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. Banovallum House sits in beautiful grounds with gardens and meadows running down to the River Bain, all just a stone's throw from the busy Market Place.

There will also be guided tours to go behind the scenes to visit parts of Horncastle's nationally important Roman walls. The wall which has recently been saved thanks to the efforts of volunteers can still be hound hidden away in gardens and backyards around the town. Some of the best preserved sections are not usually open to the public, so this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Another site not normally open to the public is the town's former court house on The Wong. It's now home to the Wong Day Service, who will be throwing open their doors and exploring its history.

The festival weekend will see the launch of Horncastle’s brand new Heritage Trail. The 3 mile walk takes in many of Horncastle’s lesser known historic sites and is a must for anyone curious about the town's past. The trail leaflets have been funded by ELDC and can be picked up free of charge at the Joseph Banks Centre. The launch event will see local history expert Paul Scott lead a special guided tour around the new trail.

There will also be an exhibition (continuing through September) shining a spotlight on the lives of local Victorian women at the Joseph Banks Centre. Featuring the likes of royal painter Annie Dixon, and wife of the poet laureate Emily Tennyson, as well as the lives of working women, convicts transported overseas and Horncastle's once infamous 'ladies of the night'.

The weekend coincides with the return of the Lincolnshire Wolds & Coast Churches Festival, where over 130 historic and picturesque places of worship open their doors in local towns and villages. Here in Horncastle visitors will be able to explore the town's oldest building, St Mary's Church, with its links to the Civil War, and the mid-century modern Methodist Church on Queen Street.

You can also explore some railway history from the comfort of your home, with Spa Trail Stories, an online 'story map' produced to mark 50 years since the closure of the Horncastle Railway in 1971. Much of the former line is now the Spa Trail taking walkers and cyclists to the nearby resort of Woodhall Spa.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, Horncastle Heritage Open Days is the perfect time to explore our historic town.