***UPDATED FOR 2021***

England's largest celebration of the nation's history and heritage, Heritage Open Days, is back for 2021, with a packed programme of online and in-person events.

From 10th to 19th September 2021, you'll have a rare chance to go behind-the-scenes, explore hidden places and try new experiences - all free of charge!

There will be thousands of events across the country, and almost 60 in Staffordshire alone, both online and in-person.

Here are five to whet your appetite.

RW388: A Spitfire Comes Home, Potteries Museum

Pay tribute to one of Stoke-on-Trent's unsung heroes, making a long-awaited homecoming, in this in-person event from the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.

On Wednesday 15th September, a decade-long project to restore RW388, the Spitfire fighter plane designed by the city’s Reginald Mitchell, to its former glories, culminates in this screening of videos and photos.

There will also be an opportunity to see a tribute to the Spitfire's role in the Battle of Britain, with genuine archive footage, on the 81st anniversary of the RAF's decisive victory over the Luftwaffe in the skies above London and the South East.

A few days later, on Saturday 18th September, a brand-new gallery at the museum, with the painstakingly restored plane as the centrepiece, opens to the public for the first time.

Open Day, Claymills Victorian Pumping Station

Enjoy a revealing in-person tour of the Claymills Victorian Pumping Station, near Burton, on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th September.

This fascinating museum features a host of restored steam engines which were used to pump sewage and improve sanitation in Burton in the 19th Century.

Promising to offer an eye-opening insight into life in the 1800s, these guided tours, which are 60-90mins long, will be available throughout both days (see http://www.claymills.org.uk/ for tour times).

Some restrictions will be in place to adhere to local and national public health guidelines.

Booking in advance is essential. Contact 01283 509929 to reserve your place.

Image: Liam Mewis

Shugborough Estate

Seize this rare opportunity to experience life below stairs at a Georgian mansion, as The Shugborough Estate opens the house and servants quarters on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th September.

Enter the former apartments of Lord Lichfield, the renowned photographer, and discover the exhibition featuring rarely seen images of The Queen, other members of The Royal Family, and 70s celebrities like Mick Jagger, Britt Ekland and Jane Seymour.

Afterwards, explore the vast grounds, meet the farm animals – including the rare Longhorn cows and Southdown sheep – and let off some steam at the playground, with its zip-wire a particular attraction for adventurous young visitors!

No booking required.

Moseley Old Hall

Join the team at another of our historic houses, Moseley Old Hall, on Saturday 18th September as they host fun in-person activities to mark the traditional Michaelmas Festival.

Have a go at apple pressing, watch a bee-keeping demonstration, learn Tudor skills, enjoy craft activities, and hear the secrets of this Elizabethan farmhouse from Living History costumed guides.

Relive the fascinating story of King Charles II’s escape from Cromwell’s New Model Army, with a look at the bed he slept in, and the priest hole which became his hiding place on 8th September 1651.

A great opportunity to discover one of Staffordshire’s treasures, which is also home to a knot garden, orchard and 17th Century flora and fauna.

No booking required.

Image: Phil Evans

Samuel Johnson Birthday Celebrations

Thursday 18th September is the 312th anniversary of the birth of Lichfield’s favourite son, Samuel Johnson, and the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum is celebrating with a full day of in-person activities.

Most famous for compiling the first comprehensive English dictionary, published in April 1755, Johnson was also a renowned writer, poet and playwright.

From 10.30am, you’ll be able to honour him with family arts and crafts, story-telling, poetry from The Lichfield Poets and Lichfield’s annual civic ceremony dedicated to the great man – as well as a free slice of cake if you get there early enough!

All activities are free and will be inspired by food, in line with the ‘Edible England’ theme for Heritage Open Days this year.

More things to do in Staffordshire for Heritage Open Days

Many of our heritage attractions are taking part in Heritage Open Days this year, including Middleport Pottery, World of Wedgwood, Gladstone Pottery Museum, Biddulph Grange Garden, and Brindley's Mill.

For more information, and full listings of things to do across the country, visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk.


The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
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.

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.

Shugborough Estate
Historic Site
Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire. View of the rear of the house.

An oasis of Grade 1 listed parkland in the heart of Staffordshire, Shugborough provides a great day out for  all ages. As a complete historic estate, Shugborough provides beautiful historic interiors, stunning formal gardens, peaceful woodland and parkland to explore at leisure, natural play for kids of all ages and the best National Trust scone in the country (as voted in 2018).

Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum
Celebrating Samuel Johnson in Lichfield's Market Square

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.