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28 Aug 2019

Wales’s ‘fairest abbey’ kick-starts Open Doors with exclusive access to 800-year-old undercroft.

This September, more than 200 of Wales’s most iconic landmarks and historic attractions will welcome thousands of visitors as part of the Wales-wide heritage festival, Open Doors.

Funded and organised by Cadw, the festival annually offers free entry to an array of museums, heritage properties and unusual landmarks through the month of September.

The Open Doors programme for 2019, which promises exclusive access to more of Wales’s heritage secrets than ever before, launched at Neath Abbey and Gatehouse today (29 August) — a site described by Tudor antiquarian, John Leland, as ‘the fairest Abbey in all Wales’.

It’s just one of 29 Cadw sites taking part in Open Doors this year, with a selection of Cadw’s castles, abbeys, burial chambers and other fascinating properties opening for free and offering never-before-seen guided tours and activities during every weekend in September.

Neath Abbey is set to host two Open Doors events on Saturday, 28 and Sunday, 29 September, with visitors invited to delve into the site’s undercroft — a recently refurbished chamber which has been inaccessible for several years due to ongoing conservation.

Open Doors visitors will enjoy a first look at the newly completed chamber and will be able to view fascinating artefacts and impressive monastic remains from the Abbey’s 900-year history — all with the guidance of an expert tour leader.

Designed in celebration of Wales’s 2019 Year of Discovery, this year’s Open Doors programme will allow visitors to uncover some of the finest secret gems of Wales — with some locations opening their doors to the public for the very first time and exclusive, access-all-areas guided tours on offer at heritage sites across the country.

From enjoying the dramatic scenery at an 80-acre horticultural paradise in Bodnant Gardens to exploring the stories of a World War II Gunnery Dome in Pembrey, this year’s events are sure to offer something for all ages and interests.

Other unusual sites participating in Open Doors include Cae’r Gors — the childhood home of renowned author Kate Roberts. Open to visitors on 21 and 22 September, a local expert will bring Roberts’ inspirational work to life through fascinating depictions of the quarrying community during the turn of the 20th century.

Meanwhile, on Saturday 07 and Sunday 08 September, Hafoty Medieval House, a 16th-century, timber-framed building with a complex structural history, can be visited — where guests will be given an in-depth guided tour of the house, filled with colourful history and glimpses of the site’s beautiful, original decoration.

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “Cadw is committed to making Welsh history accessible to all and Open Doors is a fantastic, country-wide programme which does exactly that.

“Through free access, unique events and special guided tours, there is plenty to encourage people to discover Welsh heritage this September. So, I hope that Open Doors 2019 will inspire local people and visitors of all ages and backgrounds to learn more about Wales’s best known sites and our hidden gems alike.

“After all, what better time to explore the best of Wales’s culture and history than during Wales’s 2019 Year of Discovery?”

Please note that some venues have limited spaces or require advance booking. Search here for full event listings and details of all properties taking part in the Open Doors 2019 programme.

The full programme of events at Cadw sites can be found below.

07/09/19 – 08/09/19  
Hafoty Medieval House  
Dolforwyn Castle  
Oxwich Castle  
Blaenavon Ironworks  
Kidwelly Castle  
Segontium Roman Fort  
St Winifred’s Well  
14/09/19 – 15/09/19  
Chepstow Castle  
Castell y Bere  
Strata Florida Abbey  
3 Castles Tour:  
Grosmont, Skenfrith and White Castle  
21/09/19 – 22/09/19  
Hafoty Medieval House  
Tretower Court and Castle  
Laugharne Castle  
Caerleon Baths  
Caerleon Amphitheatre  
Cae’r Gors  
28/09/19 – 29/09/19  
St Davids Bishop's Palace  
Rug Chapel  
Denbigh Castle  
Llangar Church  
Valle Crucis Abbey  
Rhuddlan Castle  
Criccieth Castle  
Harlech Castle  
Neath Abbey & Ironworks  
Ewenny Priory