Berwick-upon-Tweed Heritage Open Days

 

Heritage Open Days film

Shot in Berwick, June 2015, this short film features the Main Guard, Bank Hill Icehouse, Holy Trinity Church, the Masonic Hall, the Old Coastguard Station and Berwick Castle.  

My thanks to all those involved to make this possible.

This year, Heritage Open Days in Berwick is on Thursday 8th – Sunday 11th September. 

This is the weekend when buildings open their doors to the public once more and volunteers take you on tours.  Heritage Open Days provides visitors and locals alike with a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy properties and places, sometimes hidden, often curious, always interesting and completely free of charge. 

Heritage Open Days is the largest cultural event in England with over 2 million visitors last year.  In Berwick, over 2000 people visited our sites.

And this year along with “established favourites” to revisit, there are lots of new events to enjoy.

The weekend is supported by Berwick Civic Society and Berwick Time Lines and the events are hosted by a range of other groups and individuals. 

Detailed booklets will be available in Berwick Tourist Information Centre, the Main Guard and other venues in town.

Download a print-friendly list of events with a map here.

A Hint of History at Spittal Point Tour

Meet at Carr Rock, Dock Road,Spittal,Berwick-upon-Tweed

Only the Victorians would think of setting up a holiday resort next to an agro-chemical "industrial estate". This 1 hour guided walk looks at the industrial aspects of Spittal, investigating the salmon and herring fishing industries, and the fertiliser industries that sprang up on Sandstell Point.

 

Opening Times

Saturday:  1300

Sunday: 1300

 

Organised with

Spittal Improvement Trust

 

Archaeology and Artichokes

Lions House Allotments, Berwick-upon-Tweed

Often seen by walkers around Berwick's walls, there's a wealth of history and vegetables waiting to be unearthed in the Lion's House allotments! Spend some time with local historian Jim Herbert discovering a forgotten 16th-century fort and the original south wall of the Elizabethan defences, a bowling green, ropery and icehouses. Oh, and how you can become a budding archaeologist in your own back garden.

 

Opening Times

Sunday: Tours at 1300, 1430 & 1600

 

Access Information

Uneven ground and steps on site which may limit access to some areas for some members of the public.

 

Directions

Meet on the Elizabethan walls near the Gunpowder Magazine and Lions House. From Ravensdowne / Woolmarket junction go up the steps opposite the junction and walk along the path.

 

Berwick Baptist Church

Golden Square, Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 1BG

Berwick Baptist Church has a long and fascinating history. The building now occupied by the church was rebuilt as the Grammar School in the 1820s. Discover it and the surrounding area in an exhibition about the schools and churches of Golden Square and the Royal Tweed Bridge (the "New Bridge") of 1928, the building of which destroyed the square. Interesting features remain including the Grammar School plaque, the School House plaque, scrolled kneelers on gables and the grooved window sills.

 

Opening Times

Saturday: 1000-1600

 

Organised with

Berwick Baptist Church

 

Berwick Castle Tour

Railway Street, Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 1NF

Berwick Castle was one of the most important fortresses during the Anglo-Scottish Wars. Probably built by the Scottish King David about 1124, it held his royal mint and was the scene of a decision made by Edward I that would make legends. Discover a forgotten Jacobean palace and find out if the railway really demolished the castle. Not much remains but there's more than you think. Jim Herbert of Berwick Time Lines takes you on a tour pointing out the many tantalising clues that can be found and pieces its story together. Each tour is followed shortly by a further tour exploring Berwick's northern defences: From Ditch To Bastion (see separate entry).

 

Opening Times

Saturday: Tours 0930 & 1330

 

Access Information

Long flights of steps and fairly steep slopes involved. Some uneven paths.

 

Directions

Meet on Railway Street at the top of Berwick railway station approach road.

 

Church of St. Bartholomew
and St Boisil

Church Road, Tweedmouth,
Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 2AJ

The Church of St. Bartholomew’ and St Boisil was originally named after Boisil, the mid-7th century Abbot of the monastic community near Melrose in the Scottish Borders, now called St Boswells, a corruption of his name. The first written reference to Tweedmouth Parish Church is in a confirmatory papal document dated 1145 concerning “the Church of Bosilius at Tweedmouth.” which suggests the church had been there some time. However, in the Victorian period, Tweedmouth Church became known as St. Bartholomew’s after an early monastic leper hospital in Spittal. One of the apostles would be far more respectable than an obscure Celtic saint. The present building was built in 1783 and enlarged in 1866. John Mackay Wilson who wrote the original the “Tales Of The Borders” stories is buried here. An exhibition about his life and work will be on display.

 

Opening Times

Saturday: 1000-1100 & 1300-1600

 

Directions

Church Road is between Dock Road and Prince Edward Road in Tweedmouth.

 

Organised with

Tweedmouth Parish Church

 

 

From Ditch to Bastion

Northumberland Avenue,

Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 1LY

"I must admit the new wall is marvellous beautiful", was an opinion voiced to Queen Elizabeth about the bastioned fortifications in 1568.... before condemning them as badly designed and a waste of money! In this, the most northerly Heritage Open Days event, historian Jim Herbert takes you on a journey amongst the northern mediaeval defences of Berwick that actually saw some action in the Anglo-Scottish wars and bear witness to the changes in technology from the earliest ditch defence to the 16th century bastions. The tour takes in Spades Mire, Bell Tower and Lord's Mount. Follows on from the Berwick Castle tour.

 

Opening Times

Saturday: 1130, 1530

 

Access Information

Uneven ground, slopes and steps involved.

 

Additional information

Park at railway station car park and walk to Berwick Holiday Camp entrance along Northumberland Avenue.

 

Directions

Meet at entrance to Berwick Holiday Camp. From Castlegate, turn east along Northumberland Avenue.

 

Georgian Berwick

Meet at Parade car park near Ravensdowne,
Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 1DF

What was once called Rotten Row was transformed into Ravensdowne in the 18th century. Many of the houses here were populated by Berwick's wealthier citizens.  
This walk will take you down this quiet back street and then to the magnificent Georgian Quay Walls which were built by merchants but also were home to the artist Thomas Sword Good (1789–1872).  
Discover more family histories and architectural gems with local Archivist Linda Bankier. The tour lasts from 1-1.5 hours.

 

Opening Times

Friday:  1430

Saturday:  1430

 

Access Information

Limited access. The tour finishes with an exploration of a house which entails stairs.

 

Pre-booking required

Berwick Tourist Information Centre

Tel:  01670 622155

Email:  berwick.tic@activenorthumberland.org.uk

 

Organised with

Berwick Record Office

 

Greenses Arabs and Fish Tales

Meet at corner of High Greens and Bell Tower Place, Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 1JXF

The Greenses is so called because until the 19th century, although located within the town's medieval walls, much of the land was still open field. From the 18th century, herring fishing was the main occupation for the men of The Greenses during the summer months. In the winter, the fishermen turned to catching cod and haddock with long lines. Every day, each line with up to 720 hooks were baited with mussels and limpets collected and put on the hooks by the womenfolk. Crabs and lobsters were also caught, using pots known locally as “creeves”. 
The locals were called Greenses Arabs on account of the men's beards and swarthy complexions acquired from putting to sea in all weathers.
Join local Archivist Linda Bankier as she leads you on a short walk to discover the stories of the families that lived and worked in the cottages and smokehouses of the Greenses. The tour lasts from 1-1.5 hours.

 

Opening Times

Saturday:  1030

 

Pre-booking required

Berwick Tourist Information Centre

Tel:  01670 622155

Email:  berwick.tic@activenorthumberland.org.uk

 

Organised with

Berwick Record Office

 

Gunpowder Magazine

Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 1JG

This purpose-built ammunition store was constructed in 1751 to provide safe storage of explosives required by the garrison at the nearby Barracks. There had been a previous magazine on this site as early as 1682. The new magazine incorporated features designed to ensure protection against damp and potential explosion. The main internal safety feature is the total absence of iron. All catches, hinges, bolts, etc are made of copper and the woodwork is joined by wooden plugs instead of nails to avoid any possibility of a spark igniting the gunpowder. Among the interesting internal features are the original wooden racks, furnished with facsimile 18th century gunpowder casks. Also still in place is the wooden hoist, which runs the length of the ceiling and was used to raise barrels from carts outside the building to the hatch above the rear door and lower them into place on the storage racks.

 

Opening Times

Saturday: 1000-1600

Sunday: 1000-1600

 

Access Information

Some steps and uneven ground.

 

Directions

The Gunpowder Magazine is on the Elizabethan walls near the Lions House allotments. From Ravensdowne / Woolmarket junction go up the steps to the right of the Ravensholme Hotel and along the path.

 

Organised with

Berwick Civic Society

 

Holy Trinity Church

Wallace Green, Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD5 1ED

Holy Trinity Church is a building of exceptional historic importance because it is a very rare example of a church built during the Commonwealth period. When George Fenwick was Governor of Berwick in the 17th century, funds were raised to build the church using stone and timber from the disused castle and was completed in 1652. It has no tower or steeple, reputedly at the express orders of Oliver Cromwell. Alterations that have taken place over the years have been sympathetic and the building is full of historical and architectural interest. In recent years a Millennium window has been installed and the organ has been restored.

Opening Times

Saturday: Tours on the hour 1000-1600 (last tour 1500)

 

Organised with

Berwick Civic Society

 

Main Guard

Palace Street, Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 1HN

In 1682, a Main Guard building stood in front of the Town Hall. By 1725, it had been moved up Marygate to a site opposite West Street. However, complaints about its location led to a new Main Guard being built in 1743. It has long been believed that in 1815 this building was dismantled and rebuilt in its present position but recent research has shown it to be a new construction. There are two main rooms in the building, one for the officer of the guard and the other for the soldiers. Between them is a prison cell or 'black hole' where drunks and vagrants could be locked up. Each night, patrols would set out to enforce the curfew. The Main Guard is now the headquarters of Berwick Civic Society. It contains two exhibitions, the recently revised "The Story of a Border Garrison Town" and "Guild and Governors—The Governance of Berwick".

 

Opening Times

Saturday: 1000-1600

Sunday: 1100-1700

 

Access Information

A wheelchair ramp is used to access a couple of steps to the entrance.

 

Directions

The Main Guard is located just off the town walls at the south end of the Quay Walls and behind Wellington Terrace.

 

Organised with

Berwick Civic Society

 

Masonic Hall

Church Street, Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 1ET

St David's Masonic Lodge was formed in 1828 and this year the Lodge will have their records on display as part of the Berwick 900 celebrations so that people in the town can see if any of their ancestors were Freemasons. Freemasonry in Berwick is long established and in 1872 the present site was bought for £1300. Memorabilia within the Temple includes 2 chairs dated 1641 and 1733. These items of Berwick Freemasonry are set against what is perhaps the most interesting aspect of any visit, the splendid surroundings of the Temple itself with its array of exquisite furnishings. One of very few purpose built Victorian Masonic Halls in existence it is one of the hidden treasures of Berwick. Its huge "disappearing" stained glass window is particularly fascinating whilst its massive pipe organ was installed in 1897. The Brethren of the Lodge will be in attendance to answer questions you have about the building or Freemasonry itself.

 

Opening Times

Saturday: 1000-1600

 

Access Information

The Temple is upstairs so help may be needed for those with walking difficulties.

 

Directions

Opposite the St Andrew's Church in Wallace Green and the Parade Square car park.

 

Organised with

Organised with Berwick Masonic Hall

 

Old Coastguard Station

Berwick-upon-Tweed

Commanding superlative views of the beautiful north Northumberland coast, the Old Coastguard Tower was built in 1964 but four years later, was closed down and became derelict.In 2002, Coastwatch UK, a national organisation took over the building. Local volunteers now man the station every weekend and act as extra eyes for HM Coastguard, HM Customs and Excise and the Police. Over the years they have reported 367 incidents.Members of the public are invited into this small building to talk to the volunteers about the work they do and see the local wildlife.

 

Opening Times

Thursday: 1000-1600

Friday: 1000-1600

Saturday: 1000-1600

Sunday: 1000-1600

 

Access Information

Access to the tower is along a short clifftop path. Access to the upper floor of the tower is by a steep ladder.

 

Directions

The Old Coastguard Station is located on the cliffs near Magdalene Fields Golf Course clubhouse (TD15 1NE). Drivers; to the north of the clubhouse, park in the small clifftop car park. Walkers approaching from the town centre should walk through Cow Gate in the town walls and walk along the path to the side of a deep ditch running towards the cliffs. If approaching from the north, just follow the clifftop paths.

 

Organised with

Coastwatch UK

 

Palace Green Pavilion

Palace Green, Berwick-upon-Tweed

This charming 19th century building was built as a Subscription Reading Room. The exact date that building commenced is not known but the central building is thought to date to about 1830. The Bowling Green and News Room is listed in the Berwick-upon-Tweed Corporation Act of 1843. At this time the property was owned by the Corporation and would have been leased or rented to the users. A billiard room was added in the 1850s. For the last 100 years it has been used by the local Scout Movement. Join the 5th Berwick Scouts as they celebrate their centenary with exhibitions of the building and Scouting. Refreshments available.

 

Opening Times

Saturday: 1000-1600

Sunday: 1000-1600

 

Organised with

5th Berwick Scouts

 

Spittal Fishing Shiel

Sandstell Road, Spittal, Berwick-upon-Tweed

The word “shiel” refers to the seasonal accommodation used by fishermen or herdsmen and can be found in place names such as Galashiels and North Shields. The salmon fishing season lasts from 1st February until 30 November. The shiels were equipped with bunks and fireplaces and were also used as storage for the fishing gear. Sandstell shiel is a Grade II listed building. Records of its existence go back to 1735 and it is the only surviving unmodernised example of this type of building on the Tweed. It contains an exhibition on the history of Tweed salmon fishing.

 

Opening Times

Saturday: 1000-1500

Sunday: 1000-1500

 

Organised with

Spittal Improvement Trust

 

St Andrew’s Church

Wallace Green, Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 1EB

The foundation stone for this building was laid on 1858 and the church opened in 1859. This was the result of a group of worshippers getting permission from the Secession Church in Edinburgh to open a chapel in the town in 1770, at first in a granary on Bankhill and then a year later in Golden Square. This eventually proved too small and in 1854 a new building, Wallace Green Church, was proposed. A second Church of Scotland came into being in 1879 with the amalgamation of the Low and High Meeting Houses. This became known as St Andrew’s Church of Scotland which moved into a new building (now demolished) in Greenside Avenue in 1897. In December 1972 the congregation of Tweedmouth Presbyterian Church of Scotland joined them. The two churches were eventually joined together to form the present congregation of St Andrew’s, Wallace Green in 1987.

 

Opening Times

Saturday: 1000- 1600

 

Access Information

Wheelchair access via side ramp.

 

Organised with

St Andrew's Church

 

Tales of Northumberland Art Exhibition

56 Degrees North Studio, 23 Castlegate, Berwick-upon-Tweed

Local and national artists, both emerging and established, respond to the stories, myths and historical events that have shaped Northumberland over the ages.  Pieces include fine art, textiles and 3D objects, plus an interactive art piece.  Lino printing demonstrations throughout the weekend and open studios to look round.  Family friendly, everyone welcome. There will be a chance for public to vote for their favourite art piece for the artist to win a prize.

 

Opening Times

• :Friday 1100–1500

• Saturday: 1100–1500

 

Access Information

Stairs throughout building

 

The Tower Tour

Ness Gate, Pier Road, Berwick-upon-Tweed

500 years in 500 yards! Discover the archaeology, history and secrets of Berwick's medieval walls on this short-distance guided tour overlooking the River Tweed. Includes entrance to Coxon's Tower and New Tower.

 

Opening Times

Sunday: Tours 1000, 1130

 

Access Information

Walk is along surfaced paths but access to towers via some steps and uneven ground.

 

Directions

Meet above the Ness Gate at Pier Road on the town walls overlooking the river.

 

The Trewe Description of her Majesties Towne of Barwick

The Louvre, Bank Hill(off Marygate), Berwick-upon-Tweed

“The Trewe Description” is a 16th century topographic map of Berwick.  

Berwick’s Elizabethan walls are well-known, but much less has been written about the town they enclosed and re-shaped.   This walk by architectural historian, Catherine Kent, will explore Elizabethan Berwick from the point of view of its residents, following street plans produced between 1560-1580 and incorporating information from Catherine’s recent research on housing in the town during the period.  The emphasis will be on 16th-century (and earlier) townscape features which have survived Berwick’s 19th–20th century rebuilding. 

 

Opening Times

• Saturday: 1430

• Sunday: 1430

 

Access Information

Walk is along surfaced paths.  Some steps.

 

Directions

Meet at the Louvre ice cream parlour at he top of Bank Hill, off Marygate. 

 

Not in Berwick but nearby:

Union Chain Bridge

Horncliffe, Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 2XT

A first as HODs crosses into Scotland! The Union Chain Bridge spans the River Tweed between Horncliffe in England and Fishwick, in Scotland. It was designed by Captain Samuel Brown RN, who held patents for the design of the chains, although Brown altered the tower and abutments on the suggestion of John Rennie. With a span of 137 metres, it is the first vehicular bridge of its type in the world. It cost £7,700 to construct and pre-dates the similar Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Menai Bridge. Today it continues to carry traffic, although it is in need of a major refurbishment before its bicentenary in 2020. Join the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge as they explain the significance of this engineering landmark. Just up the hill from the Union Chain Bridge on the English side is the Chain Bridge Honey Farm, where there is situated a permanent exhibition on chain suspension bridges.

 

Opening Times

Saturday: 1100-1500

Sunday: 1100-1500

 

Access Information

Limited parking on either side of bridge.

 

Additional information

Toilets and refreshments at the nearby Chain Bridge Honey Farm.

 

Directions

Follow signs for and park at Chain Bridge Honey Farm from B6461 (Scotland) or A698 (England). The Union Chain Bridge is nearby.

 

Organised with

Friends of the Union Chain Bridge