Heritage Open Days 2010: Ten tours behind the scenes in Science

By Ben Miller | 08 September 2010
A photo of a scientist in a white coat working in a laboratory
Test Bristol University's Synthetic Chemistry Building as part of Heritage Open Days 2010© David Jones, Bristol University
Whether you're looking over the Tyneside sea or noseying around a botanic garden in Bournemouth, science whizzes are willing and ready to compare notes, answer your questions and even let you look inside some of the country's finest labs and shrubberies for Heritage Open Days. Here are a few to start with...

Tattenhoe Monument and Howe Park Wood
, Milton Keynes, Saturday

First mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086, Howe Park was a vital local source of wood for villagers in Medieval times, and still contains surviving fragments of the "wildwood" which covered the whole of lowland Britain after the last Ice Age between 6,000 and 11,000 years ago. Take a tour of the "dark, wet, impenetrable thicket" to find out why its forest of more than 200 rare plant species have seen it designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Synthetic Chemistry Building, Bristol, Saturday

Tiptoe inside the inner sanctum of some of the UK's finest labcoat brains at the University of Bristol’s £12 million pharmaceutical control tower, where hundreds of researchers use a network of chemical rooms and write-up areas described by experts as “the most modern laboratories in the world” for synthetic chemistry.

Bournemouth Natural Science Society Open Days, Bournemouth, Saturday

Bournemouth's Natural Science Society say their study of all branches of science and natural history is "pursued vigorously" from their Grade II-listed 19th century headquarters, where the surroundings comprise a library, museum and botanical garden. Peruse the comprehensive collections as part of their Annual Open Weekend, celebrating Bournemouth’s bicentenary year.

Salomons, Tunbridge Wells, Thursday

The 19th century Cambridge science scholar, Sir David Salomons, was a busy chap – he patented a range of inventions including electrical innovations and floating soap, belonged to societies spanning everything from astronomy to physics, zoology and microscopy and is believed to have instigated the world’s first motor show during his spell as the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells. His Broomhill estate was also one of the first houses to be lit by electricity, and features the chance to see the Science Theatre he built at the back of it.

Woolsthorpe Manor, Grantham, Saturday

Visit Sir Isaac Newton's apple tree and explore his ideas in the Science Discovery Centre at his birthplace and family home.

The Museum of History of Science and Oxford Centre for Developmental Science, Oxford, Saturday


Contrast an 18th century astronomical fortress with a new centre full of high-tech brain study equipment, including expert tours and the chance to discuss findings with researchers.

Dove Marine Laboratory, Newcastle, Sunday

Overlooking the North Sea coast from Cullercoats, the DML is a key part of Newcastle University’s School of Marine Science and Technology, offering neat access to the encompassing ecosystem of fauna, flora, rock, sand, shores and estuaries. Ask scientists about their endeavours at their seaside stowaway.

Biddulph Grange Garden, Biddulph, Saturday and Sunday


Described as "a horticultural Disneyland" by The Independent, Staffordshire's Biddulph Grange was devised by Darwin peer James Bateman in the mid 19th century, forging mazes and chambers of plants in a spectacular journey between Egypt, China, Himalayan glens and Victorian garden design.

Haddon Library, Cambridge, Saturday

As you might expect, Cambridge University’s library for archaeology and anthropology contains one of the most historic and important collections of scientific books in the world. Usually reserved for academic enquiry, it opens to the public for a series of tours on Saturday.

Edward Jenner Museum, Berkeley, Saturday and Sunday

Thirty years after the eradication of smallpox, see the listed country house where Edward Jenner pioneered the vaccine in 1796 alongside exhibits and exhibitions on the life and work of the country doctor. Family trails and tours of the previously unseen Chantry attic will also take place against the idyllic backdrop of the house's woodland garden.

Want more? See our
introduction to Heritage Open Days 2010 and guides to art, archaeology and our city guide to Norwich.

Heritage Open Days 2010 runs from September 9-12. For more information on these and all other events visit the festival website.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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