Rare chance to explore historic buildings

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Thursday 3rd September 2015 8:51 am
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SOME of Tavistock’s finest historic buildings will be open free of charge for members of the public to explore during a special event this month.

‘Heritage Open Days’ will run from Friday September 11 to Sunday, September 13.

The theme of this year’s Tavistock Heritage Open Days is ‘Unlocking Tavistock’s Past.’

Co-ordinator Andrew Thompson said: ‘The aim is to give people the chance to explore some of the town’s fantastic architecture with locally-based experts.

‘It is a great opportunity to learn about these buildings’ histories, the challenges of conserving them and the exciting new plans for their future.’

On all three days there will be guided tours of the Victorian Guildhall and police cells led by Andrew, who is a qualified archaeologist and historian, and former policeman Simon Dell, who worked in the building.

This will probably be one of the last opportunities for the public to visit the building in its current condition.

Ambitious proposals to restore the interior and reopen the building as a visitor interpretation centre for the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site have received a stage 1 pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund, so that detailed plans can be developed over the coming months.

Guided walks with well-known local historian Alex Mettler will explore the hidden secrets of Tavistock Abbey including the architectural gem Abbey Chapel porch and the seldom explored abbey remains in the grounds of the Bedford Hotel.

On Saturday and Sunday, town council staff will lead tours of the impressive butchers’ hall and pannier market which were built by the Duke of Bedford.

‘They will explore the architectural history of these iconic buildings and explain how they will be refurbished under the Townscape Heritage Initiative funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The magnificent Italianate Roman Catholic church, built by the Duke of Bedford and refurbished in recent years, will also be open on the Saturday with young members of the congregation on hand to show visitors around and provide refreshments.

On the same day Vanni Cook will host a family event, ‘Building Our Heritage Stone by Stone’ in the Guildhall where children of all ages can use words and stones to build a community picture.

These free events are being organised by members of Tavistock Heritage, a partnership of public, voluntary and private sector organisations.

They are part of Heritage Open Days, a national celebration of historic places which are not usually open to the public.

Tavistock Heritage chairman John Taylor said: ‘The programme offers a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and discover more about Tavistock’s wonderful heritage.

‘We are very grateful to the History Society, the Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Mary Magdalen, Tavistock Forward, Moorland Guides, Abbey Chapel, the Bedford Hotel and Tavistock Town Council for helping with this event.’

Further details of the Tavistock programme are available at http://www.andrewthompsonheritage.co.uk/tavistock-heritage-open-days

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