Heather Williams of Ruthin and District Civic Association has new properties open for 2015.
In Wales throughout the month of September, numerous venues open their doors to the public, free of charge. This Open Doors programme is part of European Heritage Days, which takes place in 50 countries across Europe. With many sites normally locked, it is a once-a-year opportunity to discover an area’s hidden cultural heritage.
Open Doors has been arranged in Wales since 1994, and was originally funded by Cadw and coordinated by the Civic Trust for Wales. Open Doors Heritage Days in Denbighshire have been taking place for over a decade – initially starting in Ruthin and Denbigh. In 2014 Cadw took over the coordination from the Civic Trust for Wales, working with partners from various heritage organisations across Wales. Last year there were 343 entries with a programme of 1045 events through out Wales. In Denbighshire there were 75 entries which was just over a fifth of the total programme for Wales. Not surprisingly Denbighshire was the highest performing area.
Open Doors is the largest volunteer event in the heritage sector of Wales. However, whilst volunteers play a most important part in Open Doors, some finance is required to co-ordinate the programme of events and also for marketing. This year as a result of a lack of funding being available at county level, there is no Denbighshire programme. Nevertheless the Ruthin and District Civic Association is co-ordinating and publicising events in its area, thanks to donations/grants made at a local level.
Two weekends are being held. The first weekend, 12-14 September, covers places in the outlying area of Ruthin. The other weekend, 26-27 September is based in Ruthin, but also includes some churches in the outlying area.
On the afternoon of 12 September a new Open Doors property is Nantclwyd Hall grounds. Alterations to the gardens and grounds were made in the 1960s by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the famous architect also responsible for stunning Portmeirion. Another claim to fame is that following a game at Nantclwyd Hall, Major Walter Wingfield devised the rules that led to the modern game of tennis. The nearby church at Llanelidian will also be open the same weekend, with a concert on Saturday evening and a Medieval Fayre on the Sunday afternoon.
On 26 and 27 September new properties in Ruthin are open, including the Wynnstay, an old historic coaching inn – and Siop Nain, where the Welsh National Anthem was first printed. Ruthin Craft Centre is putting on a programme of activities with artists based in some of the churches. Street artists will also be walking around the town drawing attention to various historic buildings. Also there will be new churches to visit this year. A particular cluster of buildings of interest are those in Llanrhaeadr. The church, with its famous Jesse Window will be open, as well as St Dyfnog’s Well and the King’s Head, another old coaching inn. Further details of the full programme will be available in August: http://cadw.gov.wales/opendoors/events-2014/?lang=en