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Eastbourne’s Fascinating Historical Sites Open Their Doors Free of Charge in Exclusive Heritage Event

Eastbourne’s iconic landmarks, historical trails and exciting galleries will open their doors to the public completely free of charge on 7-10 September, as part of the nationwide Heritage Open Days event. Image courtesy of Jarrold Publishing

The annual event presents the unique opportunity for visitors to journey through Eastbourne’s intriguing heritage with guided tours and exclusive entry into Motcombe Dovecote amongst 12 other fascinating landmarks.

Eastbourne Borough Council Lead Cabinet Member for Tourism and Enterprise, Cllr Margaret Bannister said “This four-day celebration is a one of a kind opportunity to highlight Eastbourne’s varied history and heritage with the chance to enjoy exclusive visits to venues that don’t usually open their doors to visitors.”

Opening their doors completely free of charge is Eastbourne’s oldest theatre, The Royal Hippodrome Theatre, the 18th century Hermitage building at Manor Gardens, Pevensey Court House Museum & Gaol as well as Eastbourne Heritage Centre which will be showcasing four displays surrounding Eastbourne’s eye-opening history and heritage.

Visitors will also have the benefit of guided tours given by heritage experts at selected locations including Eastbourne’s Leaf Hall Community Arts Centre and Bull House in Lewes.

Amongst the sites offering tours is the 200-year-old Redoubt Fortress which will open its iron clad doors to reveal their new immersive experience, “Faces of the Fort”, along with The Pavilion’s latest exhibition “Living on the Edge: 8,000 Years by the Sea” made in collaboration with the National Trust.

Visitors can discover Eastbourne’s best kept secrets in the East of the Pier Heritage Walk which is packed with insightful information, humour and fascinating facts. The guided walk begins at Eastbourne Pier and tells the stories of the Salvation Army riots, the history of the oldest public building in Eastbourne, an iconic theatre and Tom Thumb Cottages where fishermen used to repair their nets. A number of stopping points will be open for a glimpse inside including the Redoubt Fortress, Christ Church and Leaf Hall. The trail can also be followed individually by downloading the free “Eastbourne Trails” app to iOS or Android devices.

For the annual event’s 23rd year, Heritage Open Days have chosen three new themes to highlight areas of interest which include a focus on the LGBTQ community, Heritage and Nature and the 50th Anniversary of Conservation Areas. To mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, selected heritage sites will be highlighting their connection to the LGBTQ community including the Towner Art Gallery which will be hosting a free Art Store Tour featuring work by Duncan Grant amongst other LGBTQ artists and themes.

The full programme includes:

• East of the Pier Heritage Trail – Sunday 10am-12pm (Walk at 10am)
• Eastbourne Heritage Centre – Thurs-Sun, 10am-4pm
• Leaf Hall – Thurs-Sat, 11am-3pm and Sun 11am-1pm (Tour at 11:30am)
• Motcombe Dovecote - Friday 12pm-4pm
• Pevensey Court House Museum & Gaol – Saturday and Sunday 11am-4pm
• Royal Hippodrome Theatre – Saturday 10am-4pm
• St Mary’s Church – Friday (Tours at 10am-12pm, 1-4pm) Saturday (Tours at 10am-12pm only)
• The Hermitage, Manor Gardens – Thursday-Sunday, 11am-2pm
• The Pavilion – Living on the Edge: 8,000 Years by the Sea Saturday 10am-4pm (Tour at 12:30pm)
• The Redoubt Fortress: Faces of the Fort – Sunday 10am-5pm (Tours 11am & 2:30pm)
• Wilmington Priory – Friday-Sunday (10am-4pm)
• Bull House, Lewes – Saturday (Tours at 10am, 11:30am, 2pm and 3:30pm)

For more information, please visit or call 01323 415415.

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