What is Heritage Open Days? 

Heritage Open Days is England’s largest community led festival of history and culture, involving thousands of organisations and local volunteers. Every year in September it brings people together to celebrate their heritage, community, and history. Stories are told, traditions explored, and histories brought to life. It’s a chance for communities to visit local historical venues and try out new experiences – and it’s all FREE. 

This is 2023’s event, check back later in the year for information on 2024’s event.

National Heritage Open Days 2023 run between 8th and 17th September in villages, towns and cities across England.  

History coming to life at Wokingham Town Hall 

On Saturday 9 September, 11am to 3pm, Wokingham Town Council will be celebrating Heritage Open Days at the Town Hall.  This year’s theme is ‘Creativity Unwrapped’ and we’re looking to celebrate the Arts with some hands-on activities, through writing and crafts, whilst discovering connections to our local history.  

Outside, we’ll be joined by a lively local ‘character’ Molly Mogg, telling tales of old, from her time at the Rose Inn.  Then, pop inside to learn about some of our history that inspired Wokingham from our displays, a quiz for the children, and some fun theme related activities including the following: 

Have a go at Crocheting 

Members from the local crochet group, the Barkham Hookers, will be joining us on the day to share their skills, so you too can pick up a crochet hook and have a go! 

Did you know that this local group has used history as an inspiration for some their crocheted items?  Did you see any of the Jubilee or Coronation toppers on post boxes?  Have you seen crocheted poppies around the town during the Remembrance period?  If you didn’t manage to see any of the coronation toppers, or only spotted one or two whilst driving, there’ll be some on display for you to see up close. 

Have a go at Lacemaking 

The North Downs Lacemakers will be here and they’ll be showing and sharing their skills and of course you can have a go at this too! 

North Downs Lacemakers was set up in 1980 by a group of lacemakers, initially meeting in members’ homes and took its name from the area in which they met.  As the group expanded other premises were used.  The Fritillary was chosen as the group’s logo, as it grows wild in the locality. 

The origin of lacemaking varies but we do know that it has been in our homes and wardrobes for years, in so many different ways. From tablecloths and ruffs and standing collars , to the catwalks in New York and Paris,  lace still has its place and it features season after season, including in Royal outfits and of course in so much wedding attire.  

Did you know our female Councillors wear a lace jabot as part of their regalia? 

Brickies is coming to the Town Hall 

We’re delighted that Brickies, from Holme Grange Craft Centre, will be bringing Lego on the day for you to get creative and use your imagination to build away! 

We’d love to see some new Town Hall designs, or surprise us with other fantastic creations! 

We’re hoping this will be a big hit! 

Write a Poem Competition 

See the children’s poem entries on display and choose which one you think is the best! 

Poems have been written about Wokingham in the past and we thought it would be fun to create some new poems which are about Wokingham.  You never know, they too could become famous in the future! 

To enter, download a form here for the details or pick up a hard copy from Wokingham Town Hall: 

Local historical booklets for sale 

Our local historian, Jim Bell, loves Heritage Open Day as it’s the perfect time for him to meet like-minded residents with an interest in history.  

He’s researched so much of our local history and produced so many booklets which he’ll have available on the day.  

Pay him a visit to have a chat and perhaps see if there is a booklet or two that might interest you.  

Mosaic Activity 

Children can enjoy craft activities; decorating colourful mosaic pendant necklaces to take home and wear, or creating some colourful rainbow mosaic magnets!   

Partners taking part: 

Wokingham Library

at Carnival Hub, Wellington Road 

Talk: 1950s Forensics: CSI with Berkshire’s first woman detective 

Date/time: Friday 8th September, 2pm-3pm 

In 1957, the Berkshire Constabulary appointed its first woman detective, Gwen Crockford, previously a WPC in Wokingham. 

Gwen’s daughter, Ruth D’Alessandro, has written a trilogy of books about her mum’s pioneering police career. The second book, Calling Detective Crockford, was published in March and details Gwen’s day-to-day crime scene investigations using forensic techniques of the time. 

In this illustrated talk, Ruth explores those forensic techniques, and reads passages from Calling Detective Crockford. Ruth’s books will be available to buy. 

If you love true crime and police procedurals, this fascinating talk is for you! 

To book: Call Wokingham Library on (0118) 9781368 or visit the website here

All Saints Church 

Exhibition: All Saints Church is holding an exhibition about the original building, its recent refurbishment and textiles. 

Date/time: Saturday 9th – Sunday 17th September, (Mon-Sat 10am-4pm, Sundays 12-4pm)   

A self-directed series of display boards and artifacts from the original creation of the building through to the most recent transformation of the interior. Some of the proposed plans of old have proved quite perplexing; can you help identify if they were…a clergy vestry…a hen house, a gnome home or the tip of a rocket? You decide! 

The bell tower will also be open on Saturday 9th September between 10am and 4pm. Always a big hit and the views from the top are beautiful. 

St. Paul’s Church 

Open Day: At the Church  

Date/time: Saturday 9th September, (10am – 4pm) 

11.00 am – Colin Weedon, a parishioner, will talk about some of the fine stained glass windows by Hardman of Birmingham

2:00 pm – The above talk will be repeated.

Highlights include the creative features of their Victorian building and the artworks inside, including the font and the stained glass. Particular focus on the icon Jesus healing the woman by Julia Stankova, which was commissioned by the Parish to remember the long, difficult months of the Covid pandemic, and the outpouring of community and love which it inspired.

St Paul’s Church is open daily year round between 10am and 4pm    

Follow us on social media on the run up to the event and during September for some snippets of Wokingham’s creativity. 

Facebook: @wokinghamtowncouncil

Twitter: @Wokingham_TC

We would like to thank all the individuals, businesses, community groups and organisations for their valuable contributions who are all helping to bring this day together. 


Feel free to contact us with any queries during business hours Monday to Friday: 

E-mail: civic@wokingham-tc.gov.uk 

Telephone: 0118 974 0882 

Wokingham Town Hall: Market Place, Wokingham, RG40 1AS