Heritage Open Days will offer a celebration of history and culture

Binham Priory. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Binham Priory. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A celebration of architecture, culture and history comes to the district over the next four days as interesting properties open their doors for free as part of the annual national event, Heritage Open Days.

The HODs programme involves open buildings, guided tours, exhibitions, talks, family activities, window displays, music recitals and dance performances. Participating venues include museums and tourist attractions, private homes, churches and cathedrals, city centre shops, restaurants and pubs and even offices and workplaces.

In the Times district there are a number of events planned.

Binham Priory, near Fakenham, is open 9am to 6pm from today until Sunday.

The Benedictine Priory was built in the 12th century, but the monastic buildings were destroyed in 1539 when the monks were ordered to leave. Inside the Priory, which is still used as the village church, are interesting benches with poppyheads, the remains of a Rood Screen dated c.1500, and an East Anglian 7 Sacraments Font. Interpretation panels tell some of the history of this amazing place, and finds from the ruined monastic precincts are on display. There will be a 1 hour guided tour every afternoon starting at 2.30pm.

Also throughout the event the Control Tower B&B, (formerly RAF North Creake) at Bunkers Hill, Egmere, Walsingham will open for tours. The Control Tower was built in 1943 to control all take off and landings for 199 and 171 squadrons. As part of the RAF 100 group (Bomber Support), they flew both Stirling and Halifax heavy bombers on secret missions undertaking radio counter measures.

Open 1pm to 5pm today until Sunday, tours 2pm and 4pm. On Saturday at 1pm author John Reid will be visiting and signing copies of his war diary, Let Tyrants Tremble, an account of 199 Squadron.

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Visit www.controltowerstays.com.

The second Elsing Open Village will be held on Saturday from 11am – 5pm.

There will be a mixture of open studios, exhibitions and gardens, craft demonstrations, plant sales, words and music in the church, and children's activities, including donkey rides and a mermaid trail. New this time will be an exhibition describing the effects of World War One on the village.

Refreshments will be available, and transport around the village provided to keep vehicle traffic to a minimum. Proceeds in aid of St Mary's church and the Village Hall.

On-field parking at Rectory Road and limited parking (wheelchair users only) at the Elsing Memorial Village Hall.

Programmes will be available for £5 each; entry to all sites is free.

Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse opens its doors for free on Sunday from 10am to 5pm.

Visitors can explore all that the 50 acre site has to offer with a fascinating journey through the story of rural Norfolk with an historic workhouse and traditional farm. The museum galleries are a real treasure trove from times gone by.

There is a Victorian schoolroom and a woodland playground as well as family activities.

The Steam Up team, Gressenhall's own volunteer engineers, will run stationary engines throughout the day while the Shine a Light team have been re-discovering hidden treasures from Norfolk's reserve collections which include the tusk of the West Runton Mammoth, a medieval chancel screen, and a 19th Century mustard stamping machine from Colman's factory in Norwich.

For more information, telephone 01362 860563 or visit www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/gressenhall.

Burnham Norton Friary is also open on Sunday from 2pm to 5pm. It was the first Carmelite (white friars) house founded in Norfolk. Visit the impressive two-story gatehouse and enjoy guided tours of Friary remains in the custodianship of the NAT. Norfolk Saffron, also in Burnham Norton, has re-introduced the forgotten crop of saffron to the village and there will be a small display about the history of the 'red gold'.

For more information on all events around Norfolk visit http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/directory/county/Norfolk.