Enjoy free entry and a rare chance to go behind-the-scenes at some fascinating Staffordshire attractions this month, as Heritage Open Days return for the 25th time.

There are more than 60 events and activities across the county for the longest ever Heritage Open Days programme, from Friday 13th to Sunday 22nd September.

Here are our five highlights, but there are plenty more to choose from at the Heritage Open Days website - click here for the full Staffordshire listings (opens in new window).

Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery will be celebrating Heritage Open Days with a free talk on the Spitfire on Sunday 15th September, which is also Battle of Britain Day.

Discover more on Stoke-on-Trent's connection with the iconic fighter plane - designer Reginald Mitchell hailed from nearby Butt Lane - and hear about the restoration of the city's own Spitfire.

Once the RW388 has been returned to its former glories, it will be the centrepiece of the museum's spectacular new £6m extension, which will be unveiled in 2020.

Elsewhere in Stoke-on-Trent, a cycling tour of the city's 28 remaining bottle ovens takes in the Gladstone Pottery Museum, and there's the chance to explore sites not usually open to the public, like Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, and the wonderful Bethesda Chapel, also known as The Cathedral of the Potteries.

New Vic Theatre

In Newcastle-under-Lyme, the New Vic Theatre is taking part in Heritage Open Days for the first time on Saturday 14th September.

The theatre is throwing open its doors to show how its amazing, critically-acclaimed productions are staged, giving unprecedented access backstage and into the prop and costume stores.

Find out how the New Vic became Europe's first purpose-built theatres-in-the-round when it opened in 1986, and enjoy children's trail activities.

Also in Newcastle-under-Lyme, the GROWFest 19 community festival on Saturday 21st September features traditional skills and the Great Staffordshire Lobby Off, and there will be tours of the beautiful, historic Keele Hall.

Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum

On the eve of his 310th birthday, pay tribute to the life of Samuel Johnson, compiler of the first comprehensive English dictionary, at his former family home.

On Saturday 14th September, The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum will feature special displays on 18th Century rebellion and the power of the printing press. 

Print your own items using letterpress, and enjoy a slice of Sam's birthday cake!

Other Heritage Open Days events in Lichfield include a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the project to save Woodhouse Farm, with a tour of the replanted walled garden.

And why not have a look around at the Grade II listed home of Lichfield's Citizen's Advice Bureau, which dates back to 1820?

Polesworth Abbey

Polesworth Abbey is the venue for awesome reenactments and a look at Saxon Life on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th September.

Take a journey back to the 9th Century and witness a Viking Raid and the Big Battle for Polesworth, alongside a new interactive interpretation of the Abbey site.

And there will also be Viking food like Sithrick Sausages and Boodaxed Burgers available!

Meanwhile, meet a commander from the Battle of Hastings and a medieval Lord who escaped a prison sentence at Middleton Hall, which is open, along with the gardens and grounds, on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th

Image: Kit MacLachlan

Claymills Victorian Pumping Station 

The Claymills Victorian Pumping Station will reveal its secrets on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th September, with guided tours providing an insight into the history of the site.

The most complete pumping station of its type in the country, Claymills is home to four giant Gimson beam engines and 20 smaller engines.

Younger visitors will have the chance to dress in Victorian costumes and build meccano models.

A short drive away is Croxden Abbey, where you can immerse yourself in the wider monastic landscape on Saturday 14th, and see medieval features and hear a presentation on the Abbey's long history.

Other Staffordshire heritage attractions

Staffordshire is a county rich in history and heritage, and there are many places to visit if heritage is your thing.

Visit the History & Heritage section of our website for a full rundown.

Related

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
Museum
Front of the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Discover the world famous Staffordshire Hoard along with the history of the Potteries, including the world's greatest collection of Staffordshire Ceramics. See a Spitfire and all sorts of art and craft.

New Vic Theatre
Theatre
New Vic Auditorium

A world famous theatre-in-the-round presenting plays, musicals, concerts, and more. Facilities include a restaurant, bars, and onsite parking.

Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum
Museum
Celebrating Samuel Johnson

Winner - Silver Award - Enjoy Staffordshire Small Visitor Attraction of the Year 2019. Discover the life and times of Samuel Johnson, the great man of letters most famously known for writing ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’ in 1755. Explore five floors of displays in an atmospheric historic house, including period room settings, introductory film, interactive exhibits and hands-on fun for families. The house tells the story of the colourful life and major achievements of Lichfield's most famous son from troubled childhood, through literary obscurity and financial poverty, to world renown and success. A range of events and activities is held throughout the year, and book-lovers can browse the well-stocked Johnson family bookshop.

Claymills Victorian Pumping Station
Industrial Heritage
View outside of Claymill Pumping Station

Fantastic steam beam engines. Stoke our steam boiler. Visit our steam driven workshop. Children can start a steam engine and blow the whistle.