The annual Heritage Open Days event celebrates the UK’s culture and architecture by offering free access to places that are usually closed to the public or charge for admission. Buildings of every age, style, and function throw open their doors for people to discover architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of events and activities. Many open days are taking place throughout Manchester and further afield, but below are three of the best in the local area.

Chetham’s Library

Situated right in the centre of Manchester, Chetham’s Library is a historical gem hidden in plain sight. On this open day (Saturday), visitors will be able to wander through the medieval cloisters and other parts of the building that are not normally open to visitors. Founded in 1653, this is the oldest public library in Britain. It was here that the Elizabethan alchemist John Dee tried to summon demons and where Friedrich Engels wrote ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England’. Chetham’s Library holds a host of treasures from throughout the centuries, including an early copy of Mercator’s atlas and contemporary papers relating to the Peterloo Massacre.

Sat 13 Sep, Chetham’s Library, Long Millgate, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M3 1SB, 10am – 4pm, FREE entry

Victoria Baths, Longsight

Dubbed ‘Manchester’s Water Palace’, Victoria Baths is a superb example of early 20th century architecture. The building is replete with stained glass windows, mosaic floors, terracotta, and decorative tiles. The baths will be open on Saturday and Sunday, and there will be guided tours throughout both days. The tour will take you through the building’s iconic spaces, behind the scenes areas, and even TV filming locations. The event is aimed at all ages; there is a children’s trail and a family-friendly area. Also taking place the same weekend is a Contemporary Glass Fair, with exhibitions from 20 leading glass artists. The fair will feature drop-in workshops, demonstrations, and talks.

Sat 13 – Sun 14 Sep, Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 0FE, 11am – 4pm, FREE entry,

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

The house that was once owned by the 19th century writer Elizabeth Gaskell will be open on the Saturday and Sunday. Gaskell was the author of ‘North & South’ and ‘Cranford’, both of which have been adapted into hugely successful TV series. She lived in this house during her later writing career, and here she entertained such luminaries as Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. The property is currently being restored to its former glory, complete with an authentic Victorian-style garden. Attractions indoors include an introductory film and a collection of her treasures. There will be events for children, including drawing and face painting.

Sat 13 Sep – Sun 14 Sep, 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester, M13 9LW, 12pm – 4pm, FREE entry,

For full listings in Manchester and beyond see

Thu 11 Sep - Sun 14 Sep
A. James Simpkin
Published on:
Sat 6 Sep 2014