Doncaster Heritage Festival

This year’s Heritage Festival runs from Saturday 4 May until Sunday 19 May 2019 and is bigger and better than ever.  From Anglo-Saxon royalty to the actor behind Blackadder’s King Richard IV – there really is something for everyone!

Booking Information

The festival programme features fascinating talks, workshops, walks and events that explore the history of the borough.  Unless stated, tickets must be booked in advance from Doncaster Local Studies located in the Central Library on Waterdale in person or by phoning 01302 734307.

The Doncaster Heritage Festival is organised by Heritage Doncaster and is delivered by partners across the borough for all to enjoy.

For more information about the festival email Doncaster Local Studies

Festival Events

Who was the Rightful King, Edward IV or Richard III?

Saturday 4 May | 11am | Doncaster Museum | £4
Edward IV defeated the Lancastrians to establish the House of York on the English throne. He ruled peacefully from 1471 until his sudden death twelve years later but throughout his life and beyond many questioned his claim to the throne. In this illustrated talk, local historian Helen Cox examines the claims surrounding the paternity of the 15th century king.

King Athelstan and the Making of England

Saturday 4 May | 2.30pm | Doncaster Mansion House | £8
Historian and broadcaster Michael Wood explores the Anglo-Saxon roots of the English state through three generations of the Wessex royal family – Alfred the Great, his son Edward and daughter Aethelflaed, and his grandson Athelstan, the first king of all England. Find out more about the decisive Battle of Brunanburh and explore the new evidence that the 937 battle took place close to Doncaster.

Romans to Racing Heritage Walk

Sunday 5 May | 10.30am | Meet at Doncaster Minster | £5
From its roots as a Roman fort to its legendary horse races explore Doncaster’s fascinating heritage on this guided walk.
Book by phoning Visit Doncaster 01302 734309.

May Day at Cusworth Hall

Sunday 5 May | 1pm – 4pm | Cusworth Hall & Park | Free
Try your hand at Maypole dancing, enjoy a performance by the Green Oak Morris Men, and sample Cook’s springtime cooking in the Great Kitchen at this heritage fun day. Booking not required.

The Battle of Maisbelli Heritage Walk

Sunday 5 May | 12pm – 3pm | Meet at Crown Inn, Barnburgh | Free
Lost in the mists of time, the battle of Maisbelli took place in 487 AD in the vicinity of Barnburgh. Join Dr Ian Parks on a tour of the Maisbelli battlefield. Booking not required.

Discover the Sand House

Monday 6 May | 11am | Meet at Silverwood House | £4
A 90-minute walking tour of the locality of the former Sand House, discovering how the house developed and where it and its tunnels once lay in relation to the modern layout. The tour is entirely above ground. Advance booking essential.

History Club with B:Friend

Tuesday 7 May | |10am – 12pm | Old People’s Welfare Centre, Thorne|  Free (drop-in)
Join Heritage Doncaster to find out about tomorrow’s history.  Get up close to museum objects, meet new people and have a go at hands-on activities. Part of History, Health and Happiness and funded by Arts Council England.

First World War Family History

Tuesday 7 May | |10am – 3pm | Central Library | Free
Uncover your family’s history and learn how to research the First World War stories of people and places in Doncaster in this hands-on workshop. Advance booking essential.

The King’s War: A Commoner, The Crown and Britain’s Greatest Struggle

Tuesday 7 May | 1pm – 2.30pm | The Point | £4
Mark Logue, co-author of The King’s Speech and The King’s War, follows the relationship between his grandfather, speech therapist Lionel Logue, and King George VI  through the dark days of the Second World War to victory in 1945 – and beyond.

Family History for Beginners

Wednesday 8 May | 10.30am – 1pm | Central Library| Free
Would you like to research your family history but don’t know where to start?  Come and find out how to start tracing your ancestors and use free resources at this workshop with Doncaster Libraries. Advance booking essential.

Family History on the Internet

Wednesday 8 May | 2.30pm – 5pm | Central Library | Free
Find out how online resources such as Find my Past and Ancestry can help you to research your family history at this free workshop with Doncaster Libraries. Advance booking essential.

On a Roll: The Conisbrough  Court Rolls Project

Thursday 9 May | 10.30am | Doncaster Museum | Free
In 2017 Heritage Doncaster purchased the Conisbrough manor court rolls covering the years 1265-1935, with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Friends of the National Libraries. Dr Charles Kelham, project archivist, and Shirley Jones, head of conservation for West Yorkshire Archives, give an insight into the project and discuss the conservation work carried out on the parchment rolls. Enjoy sounds of the Court Rolls period with Doncaster Waites during the event. Advance booking essential.

Misdemeanours and Justice Through the Years

Thursday 9 May | 2.30pm | Doncaster Museum | Free
John Brown explores how the manor courts, such as those held for the Manor of Conisbrough, evolved through time to become the civil courts of today. Come and hear examples and amusing anecdotes of local cases held in the Conisbrough manorial court. Advance booking essential.

Research Your Military History

Friday 10 May | Doncaster Museum | Free
Are you currently researching an ancestor who served with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, or don’t know where to start? Book a one-on-one appointment with our military history curator to find out how to research your military history. 30-minute sessions available between 10.30am and 2pm – advance booking is essential.

Songs of our Town: An Evening of Poetry & Music

Friday 10 May | 7.30pm | Brewery Tap | Free
Song writing team musician Mick Jenkinson and poet Ian Parks present an evening of original poetry and song celebrating Doncaster and its forgotten heroes. Booking not required.

Spanning the Void: Guided Walk and Painting/Poetry Workshop

Saturday 11 May | 10am | Conisbrough Viaduct | £15
Join artist Pete Olding and poet Ian Parks on a circular walk around the Conisbrough Viaduct, opened in 1909 and built of 15 million bricks.  The walk includes a poetry and painting workshop on-site, concluding at the Ministry of Craft café in Conisbrough. Ticket cost includes refreshments and materials. Book at Local Studies but pay at the event

Doncaster Minster: Its History and Music

Saturday 11 May | 11am | Doncaster Minster| £4
Enjoy an informative guided tour of one of Doncaster’s most iconic buildings, followed by a talk about the historic Schultz organ with the opportunity to hear the Minster organists play live. Tickets available from Doncaster Minster.

Women and the Miners’ Strike in Doncaster 1984-5

Saturday 11 May | 1.30pm | The Point| Free
Historian Natalie Thomlinson discusses the lasting impact of the 1984-5 strike on miners’ wives, mothers and daughters in Doncaster and beyond.  Featuring audio and film gathered from her research, Natalie explores the women’s support movement which saw thousands of women masterminding an operation to keep 142,000 miners and their families fed during the strike.

Whereabouts Unknown: The KOYLI in the Battle for France

Sunday 12 May | 11am | Cusworth Hall| £4
In June 1940, long after the last boats had left Dunkirk’s beaches, men of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry fought on.  Sent to France as a labour force to work far behind the lines, these untrained and badly equipped recruits suddenly found themselves in the front lines.  Outnumbered, outgunned and badly equipped, they waited to face the best troops of the German army.  Military historian and author Tim Lynch tells their story.

Walled Garden Open Day

Sunday 12 May | 12pm – 4pm | Cusworth Park| Free (drop-in)
Cusworth Park’s very own secret garden will once again open up to the public. We’ll also be joined by the Traditional Car Club of Doncaster, who will be displaying around 40 classic vehicles in front of Cusworth Hall.

Bawtry Heritage Walk

Sunday 12 May | 2pm | Meet at Cooplands| £5
Explore the fascinating history of the market town of Bawtry.  This guided walk features St Nihcolas’ Church, the River Idle, and the history of the East Coast Railway line. Book by phoning Visit Doncaster 01302 734309.

Hatfield War Memorial

Monday 13 May | 12pm – 2pm | Hatfield Library| Free (drop-in)
Find out more at this information session about the soldiers who served in the First and Second World Wars and are today remembered on the Hatfield Woodhouse War Memorial. 

The River Don: A Journey from Doncaster to Mexborough

Monday 13 May | 2pm – 3pm | Mexborough Library| £4
Dave Fordham’s illustrated talk takes us on a nostalgic journey from Doncaster to Mexborough.  Featuring old prints, postcards, and maps, the talk will explore past and present views of the communities on the banks of the River Don.

Doncaster’s Cycling Heritage

Tuesday 14 May | 1pm – 2.30pm | The Point| £4
Journalist and author Chris Sidwells talks about cycling legends including his uncle Tom Simpson, who rose through the ranks of European pro cycling to become an Olympic medallist and one of the best cyclists in the world. Followed by book signing.

Brewer’s Inquisition:  Heritage Pub Quiz

Tuesday 14 May | 8pm | Doncaster Brewery Tap| 50p (on the door)
Pit your wits and intellect against the grumpy brewer in an attempt to win tokens for 6 pints of beer!  There will also be a cash prize jackpot during this evening of history-themed trivia. Max team size is six. Limited spacesavailable. Arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Reading History: A Palaeography Workshop

Wednesday 15 May | 11am – 1pm | Doncaster Museum| Free
Archivist Charles Kelham guides participants through the process to transcribe and read local 16th and 17th century documents in this free workshop. Advance booking essential.

Uncovering Doncaster’s Food History

Wednesday 15 May | 2.30pm | Dreambakes| £7.50
Meryl White, author of Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking, joins forces with Dreambakes to present an afternoon of Doncaster-inspired recipes.  The talk will reveal Doncaster’s culinary past from Doncaster-born Elizabeth Raffald’s 1769 cookbook and its Georgian baking to the town’s famous Butterscotch, right up to the present day Markets.  This event also features a food and drink tasting provided by Dreambakes. Book via Dreambakes.

War & Peace: A Night of Storytelling & Song

Wednesday 15 May | 6.30pm | Cusworth Hall| £10
Internationally renowned singer-songwriters Findlay Napier, Greg Russell and Bella Hardy present an intimate evening of storytelling and song, inspired by stories from of the First World War from the archives and collected with Doncaster people through Doncaster 1914-18 project. An Arts Council Funded project in partnership with folk and roots music producers, Sounds Just Fine. Tickets available from Cusworth Hall.

Sand House Poetry Workshop

Thursday 16 May | 10am – 1pm | Boughen Centre| Free
A poetry writing workshop with poet Ian Parks based on visual images of the Sand House. Unlock your imagination in this practical session which is suitable for beginners and those with more experience. Come with an empty page and go home with your own poem about one of Doncaster’s hidden marvels. Advance booking essential.

Family History Surgery

Thursday 16 May | 2pm – 7pm | Palgrave Research Centre| Free (drop-in)
If you need help with your family history research or are new to finding your roots, then this drop-in session organised by the Doncaster and District Family History Society at the Palgrave Research Centre (part of the Doncaster Archives building), King Edward Road, Balby, is the ideal opportunity to learn more and make some unexpected discoveries.

An Audience with Brian Blessed

Friday 17 May | CAST | Tickets £20 (+booking fee)
The larger than life special guest joins us for this year’s Heritage Festival to share his stories and anecdotes from a spectacular career performing in Flash Gordon, Black Adder and many other excellent stage and screen productions. Tickets on sale 22 April from CAST.

It’s Our Heritage Day

Saturday 18 May | 10am – 4pm | Conisbrough | Free
Celebrate local history across Conisbrough and Denaby with a full day of fun activities for all ages!  Activities such as historical re-enactments, a Spring fair, and heritage tours will take place at different venues and a South Yorkshire Transport Museum bus connects all sites throughout the day. 

Conisbrough Castle:  Medieval living history and village History Tours from Conisbrough’s spectacular 12th Century Castle along with spotter sheets

St Peter’s Church: St Peter’s Church is open all day for viewing of church registers and silverware. Church Heritage Tours and a display of findings from historic graffiti surveys. Choir performances through the day.

Denaby Gray’s Court: Get hands on with WWII re-enactors in Denaby’s main shopping area. Dinnington Miners Brass Band will be playing 12pm and 1.30pm

St Alban’s Church: Photographic exhibition; signs and artefacts of Cadeby Main Colliery during 1986 after the colliery closure. Information stalls from Yorkshire Mining Museum; Pit Sense and Coalfields Regeneration Trust 

‘Sand House Rocks!’ –  A Celebration in Music, Words and Pictures

Saturday 18 May | 3pm – 5pm | St James Church| £8 (£6 u16s)
A multimedia event featuring the Doncaster Youth Swing Orchestra celebrating the 200-year combined heritage of the Sand House and Doncaster Youth Jazz Association. History and music combine to evoke the spirit of the community concerts held at the Victorian marvel during its heyday. Tickets available at, from Doncaster Jazz Centre, Beckett Road, DN2 4AA and at Local Studies Library (cash only).

Discover the Sand House

Sunday 19 May | 11am | Meet at Silverwood House | £4
A 90-minute walking tour of the locality of the former Sand House, discovering how the house developed and where it and its tunnels once lay in relation to the modern layout. The tour is entirely above ground. Advance booking essential.

St Oswald’s Church Open Day

Sunday 19 May | 12pm – 4pm | St Oswald’s Church| Free (open event)
Explore the unique architectural features of this 12th century church with its much earlier Saxon origins. Discover the Rokeby Chapel named after locally-born William Rokeby, rector of Kirk Sandall who went on to become Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Tickhill Walk

Sunday 19 May | 2pm | Meet at Methodist Church, Northgate| £5
Explore the Tickhill’s rich Medieval, Georgian and Victorian architectural heritage. The guided walk features Northgate, Sunderland Street, Market Place, Castlegate, Dam Road and Church Lane Book by phoning Visit Doncaster 01302 734309.

Hyde Park Cemetery: Open All Hours Tour

Sunday 19 May | 3pm | Meet at Main Gate| Free
Find out more about some of the interesting and colourful shopkeepers and businessmen that helped to make Doncaster a thriving, vibrant and wonderful place to visit, in this guided walk around Doncaster’s largest cemetery. Booking not required.