Doncaster Heritage Festival set to kick off

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Take a trip down memory lane and delve into Doncaster’s past with a look back at decades of the town’s history at a week-long historical extravaganza.

The Doncaster Heritage Festival kicks off this week - and there’s still time to get involved in a host of talks, events and workshops aimed at putting the region’s past firmly in the spotlight.

Topics such as the First World War, The Magna Carta, family history and how to research a family tree will all be on offer at a series of events across the borough.

The historic Sand House, a mysterious underground chamber of sand carvings, long since lost in Doncaster’s redevelopment, will form the basis of one of the talks, while visitors will be able to discover the history on their doortstep with a trip around some of Doncaster’s most notable streets.

Historian Helen Wallder, Local Studies Officer with Doncaster Council, said: “If any of you haven’t come across the festival before it is two weeks where we really concentrate on local history and it’s wider context. Love history? Love Doncaster Heritage Festival!”

And Mexborough-born acting legend Brian Blessed, recovering from heart surgery, has also given his thumbs-up to the festival.

The booming voiced Dearne star, who visited Doncaster Archives while filming an episode of BBC family history show Who Do You Think You Are? and later agreed to become an ambassador for Doncaster’s Heritage Services, said: “Our local history is important because it’s about who we are, and who we are shapes our future. It is vitally important!”

Here’s the full rundown of talks, walks and workshops celebrating the history of Doncaster.


Magna Carta: 800 years of England’s Great Charter by Helen Cox

Central Library, meeting room 1


Tickets £3 inc. refreshments

An illustrated talk giving the background to the drafting of this world-famous charter, and its impact on the reign of King John and later monarchs.


The Sand House: A Victorian Marvel by Richard Bell

Doncaster Museum: gallery 5


Tickets £2 inc. refreshments

An updated illustrated talk about Doncaster’s famous house carved in a sandstone quarry and the carved tunnels, which inspired the Elephant in the Room exhibition and life-sized elephant and mahout carving


Doncaster Local History Fair

Doncaster Museum, Chequer Road


Free entry

Over 20 local groups will be displaying examples of their work and providing information and advice on the fascinating history of their area and its people.

This annual event will see the launch of ‘Wyn’s military index to Doncaster newspapers 1914-1919’ available to order on CD Rom. This is the culmination of a 10 year project to index all the reports and articles relating to the serving soldiers, sailors and early airmen from the Doncaster Gazette and Doncaster Chronicle newspapers, 1914-1919. The index records serving personnel killed in action, missing in action, wounded, taken POW, those receiving awards and medals and other articles of interest.

If you are interested in being involved in a similar volunteer project the Doncaster 1914-18 project team will be on hand to talk to you.


Hyde Park Cemetery walk: A biography of Doncaster stories of people who shaped our town

3pm start from cemetery’s main entrance, Carr Lane, Doncaster, DN4 5AA

Free entry but donations welcome

A guided walk around Doncaster’s first municipal cemetery, locating and recalling some of Doncaster’s past notable residents.


Hyde Park Cemetery: A biography of Doncaster by Richard Bell

Central Library, meeting room 1


Tickets £2 inc. refreshments

An illustrated talk recalling the lives (and deaths) of Doncaster people who shaped our town and are buried in Hyde Park cemetery.


Palaeography workshop: how to read 16th and 17th century handwriting.

Doncaster Archives, King Edward Road, Balby, Doncaster


Tickets £2 inc. refreshments

A hands-on workshop to help you to learn how to read 16th and 17th century handwriting on local documents, such as wills and deeds, held at Doncaster Archives. This event has limited places so please book early.


Looking after your family papers workshop with Sheffield Archives’ conservator, Antony Oliver

Central Library meeting room 1

10.30am -12.30pm

Tickets £3 inc. refreshments

Practical tips from the conservation staff at Sheffield Archives on how to preserve and store your important family books, papers and photographs. There will be a chance to ask specific questions about your own family documents and hand-outs will be available.


Family History for Beginners workshop part 2: Internet hands-on session

Central Library meeting room 1


Tickets £2 inc. refreshments

A hands-on computer session using genealogical websites to search for ancestors, as part of creating a family history tree.


The Home Front by Tim Lynch

Central Library meeting room 1


Tickets £2 inc. refreshments

This talk explores what life was like for those left behind in times of war, including a time when feeding a slice of bread to a duck could land you in prison.


Heritage Walks: Doncaster South Walk

Starting at Doncaster Tourist Information Centre (TIC)

10.30am start and lasts about 2½ hours

£5 from TIC

A guided walk which covers the area of High Street, Hallgate, South Parade, Thorne Road, Christchurch Road, Nether Hall Road and Market Place.

For more information, contact 01302 734307, email or visit