Lincolnshire’s annual Heritage Open Days return today for the 26th year, with extra measures in place, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Heckington Windmill, a Heritage Open Days site. Photo: Heritage Lincolnshire.

The open days, which have been running since 1994, take place from today, 11 September, until Sunday, 20 September.

They provide visitors with the chance to view properties free of charge that would normally come with a fee or not allow public access, as well as enjoy tours and activities that celebrate the local heritage.

Charlotte Davey is the project officer for historic sites and projects at Heritage Lincolnshire, which coordinates the open days.

This year, the focus of the festival will be on “the past and past times, the history of Lincolnshire leisure and heritage through leisure”, she said.

Ms Davey explained that the open days will be smaller this year, with 60 events, compared to over 200 last year.

“We are really pleased we have got that amount and we’ve made sure that our in-person events are COVID-secure, with handwashing facilities, the use of masks and social distancing at all the sites,” she said.

This year, a mix of online and in-person events have been organised to make sure those who are unable to leave their homes don’t miss out.

“There are still people out there shielding and, as part of the National Trust, for the first time, there is registration for online events, as we are trying to adapt and make sure everyone can access the events,” Ms Davey said.

“Some of those are Zoom calls, live streams and there are a couple of events which are essentially online exhibitions,” she added.

The Lincolnshire Heritage Open Days have also received support from local councils.

“Lincolnshire County Council is our main contributor which provides support every year,” said Ms Davey.

Other councils across Lincolnshire also assist the open days, and the full list of those authorities is included in the Heritage Open Days 2020 brochure.

Fydell House in Boston, a Heritage Open Days site. Photo: Heritage Lincolnshire.

“They make financial contributions, as we are a charity and it helps us to subsidise some of the festival costs, such as the printing of brochures and the management of digital aspects,” Ms Davey added.

Like many other charities and businesses, Heritage Lincolnshire has faced challenges because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms Davey said: “For us, it’s taught us how to adapt quickly to the changing demands on what’s going on in society.

“It’s all about communication and looking at different channels, like social media, to contact people that we are used to seeing in person, learning to adapt and pushing forward to not let it overcome us.”

Ms Davey explained that the charity is also working on some new ideas.

“Our plans at the moment are getting locals to engage with heritage through things like trails, which offer something different on tourism and don’t offer just one place.

“It ties up different experiences and is a move to almost bespoke visits with multiple things in one day,” she said.

Cleethorpes Pier, part of an online event this year. Photo: Heritage Lincolnshire.

She added that the charity is looking at creating an itinerary, as a “good way to go forward and spread tourism income across lots of different venues rather than just the one”.

“We have a fantastic team of volunteers working on tourism trails and routes across the county that include pubs, restaurants and shops,” she said.

For further information on events and updates, visit the Lincolnshire Heritage Open Days Facebook Page.

By Abbey Warne

News Editor at The Linc.