HUNDREDS of volunteers and 36 venues across Worcestershire, from Clent in the north to Saintbury near Broadway, will be taking part in the UK’s largest grassroots history celebration over the next four days.

Families will be able to go behind the scenes at a number of county visitor attractions; try bell ringing in some of the local churches; venture into the normally closed rooms of Masonic halls; discover some of the history behind canal basins; take a step back in time to learn about working in the hop yards; enjoy a rare opportunity to visit Mulberry House – the former nurses’ home to those working at Worcester Royal Infirmary, Castle Street, Worcester - and much more.

The festival starts tomorrow (Thursday September 8) and goes on until Sunday September 11 and is part of the national Heritage Open Days 2016, which involves 45,000 volunteers and 5,000 buildings across the country.

This year is the biggest in the festival’s 22-year history and has the theme “Treasure Your Treasures”. It is being co-ordinated by the National Trust with financial support from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

During the event volunteers will be stepping up to the mark to open wide the doors of historic buildings, giving their time, creativity and skills in a cavalcade of free walks, talks, tours, open houses, exhibitions, performances and demonstrations.

Bands of bell ringers will ring the changes in church towers and cathedrals, costumed interpreters will bring to life historical heroes and heroines, stories will be shared, doors to hidden places unbolted and gates to secret gardens flung open.

Three Worcestershire National Trust properties – Croome Court, near Pershore; Hanbury Hall, near Droitwich and Greyfriars in Worcester – are taking part in the event and waiving their fees to provide free entry to visitors.

The American-British television presenter and gastronome Loyd Grossman is patron of the Heritage Open Days and said: ““Treasure Your Treasures calls on communities to champion their local heritage and show their support for cultural and historic assets on their doorsteps.

“The days provides the ideal platform to stand up and shout about local treasures. It’s an opportunity to engage people in heritage as visitors and volunteers, and to get them behind campaigns to shout about retaining access to places like museums, archives, libraries, galleries, theatres, parks and historic sites.”

Clara Govier, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “This is the second year that we have supported Heritage Open Days. We are excited that, thanks to thousands of local volunteers, millions of visitors will be able to experience the hidden histories on their doorstep.”

The 36 events in Worcestershire include the opportunity to find out about the conservation work being done at Tardebigge Lime Kilns at Tardebigge Wharf, Tardebigge, Bromsgrove. People can also enjoy walks along the canal and the site is close to the 580 yard- long Tardebigge tunnel and the Tardebigge locks – the longest flight of locks in Britain.

Another attraction taking part is The Forge at Churchill near Kidderminster. Churchill forge watermill was one of the last working water-powered forge mills in Britain producing metal tools like spades, shovels and ladles until the early 1970s. The forge is now maintained by a group of volunteers as an important example of the West Midlands’ industrial heritage.

In the south of the county, visitors can explore a fascinating Triangle of Faith through the beautiful countryside south of the Malvern Hills. There is a trail to three churches – two medieval and a rare Victorian mission chapel – in the parish of Berrow with Pendock.

St Faith Church, Berrow, is subject to a two-stage restoration project including research into a mysterious stone effigy in the bell tower. The Church (no dedication) at Pendock, is looked after by the Church Conservation Trust and much of it is Norman although the 10th century font suggests there may have been an even earlier building. It is thought one of Worcestershire’s most famous sons Sir Edward Elgar once played the little Georgian organ there. Finally, the Church of the Redeemer, Lower Pendock, is unusual as it is totally constructed of timber.

People can also delve into the world of Freemasonry by visiting the Masonic Hall in Malvern and looking around the normally closed rooms of late Victorian elegance. Some of the items on display will be a chair reputed to have belonged to King Charles I and the Masonic carpet which is considered rare today due to its size and detail. The displays will also include items from the Worcester Masonic Museum – the largest outside London.

Stourport will see a major event as there will be a display of boats in the canal basins to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of James Brindley – the father of English canals. The boats will be decorated by Stourport businesses, local community groups and schools.

Costumed interpreters will be dressed as Mr Brindley and John Fennyhouse-Green - Under Clerk of Works to the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal Company – and enact their parts in creating the Stourport Canal Basins, while others will play the parts of Georgian and Victorian characters in the Old Ticket Office and Tontine Stables. There will be children’s activities and 1930s and 40s working boats in the lower basins.

Nine venues in Worcester city will take part in the festival. They are The Commandery in Sidbury; Greyfriars, in Friar Street; The Guildhall, High Street; Tudor House Museum, Friar Street; St Helen’s Church, Fish Street; the Museum of Royal Worcester; St John in Bedwardine Parish Church; University of Worcester, City Campus, Infirmary Walk and Worcester Cathedral.

Museum of Royal Worcester director Amanda Savage said the museum, which is free to visit on the Heritage Day, has received money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Heritage Days are an opportunity for the museum to say a big “thank you” to everyone who buys a lottery ticket.

“We make an effort to open on a day when the museum is not normally open, which is Sunday. It is even more important this year because next year we are having a big refurbishment and people can see it before and after the work is done.

“These Heritage days are incredibly important. The more our lives change and the quicker things move with people travelling around the world, it is important for us to retain our roots. Whatever came before, makes us the people we are today.”

A full list of the events, their locations, access and timings are available on the Heritage Open Days website by visiting