Monday, 12 September 2011

Heritage Open Days - Sat 10th Sept

On Saturday we decided to go to Durham to see which places were open for Heritage Open Days. Unfortunately we only had an afternoon so had to fit in what we could in the time. In previous years we've had some good visits including Darlington Civic Theatre and also the Durham Old Law Courts complete with cells.
First stop was Vane Tempest Hall in Gilesgate. It is a beautiful building but now used as a community centre and a collection of rooms and spaces for various community groups. Unfortunately the building is in bad repair and is very shabby. A hall is used as a sports hall but was musty and damp. We got there for 12.40 and admittedly it was only supposed to be open until 13.00 but the guide had gone. We asked and someone said we could look round ourselves which was not successful as I opened a door and came face to face with an Alsatian dog ( dog training class) so quickly shut door and scarpered. The grounds were overgrown too.

However undeterred we walked into the city centre and headed for Old Shire Hall. I had rang up to book a place so we were expected. I don't really like guided tours or talks as I like to look round places on my own but have to admit that this one was very good. Old Shire Hall was originally built as the County Council Offices in the 1880s when Durham controlled a large area. It was taken over in the 1960s by Durham
University who have very recently sold it off to onenortheast. It is a large red brick building on Old Elvet. It is beautiful inside with stained glass windows sort of art deco style, gorgeous tiles, plasterwork & Frosterley marble.

The stained glass windows have educational themes.

There is a council chamber which is used for meetings and sometimes interviews!

On the way home we stopped at Bowburn Community Centre where they had a exhibition of Miners Banners. They are really striking and interesting. Some of them depict religious scenes and figures and some political showing the downfall of capitalism. They are really evocative and sentimental and wonderful especially packed into a little south Durham hall.

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