‘Unsung stories’ of Turing and more come to life as Knutsford celebrates Heritage Open Days

A FOUR-DAY celebration of Alan Turing’s legacy held in Knutsford has been W hailed a resounding success by organisers at Knutsford Promenades.

With more than 50 events taking place across town as part of Heritage Open Days – a nationwide celebration of history and culture – Knutsford took centre stage by hosting one of four commissioned projects.

In line with HODs’ LGBT theme of ‘Unsung Stories’, the infamous Regina v Turing and Murray trial at Knutsford’s crown court was brought to life as a performance orchestrated by RE-DOCK.

Visitors in their hundreds took the chance to watch three live productions of the trial in the very building it took place 65 years ago, while more took advantage of a virtual reality experience of the court proceedings.

Turing-themed events took up almost half of the Promenades’ programme, with highlights including Sir Dermot Turing and Rob ‘Judge’ Rinder speaking as part of a ‘Salon’ event at The Courthouse.

Feedback from the TV judge said: “Knutsford Heritage Open Days gave Alan Turing back to us all.”

Celebrating the renowned codebreaker’s legacy, other events included Turing’s Mechanical Calculator at Tabley House, cocktail ‘mixology’ at The Lost and Found, artificial intelligence golf and Run Knutsford’s ‘Turing 2:46’ event in honour of his best marathon time.

The Grade I-listed Brook Street Chapel – home to the grave of Elizabeth Gaskell – displayed the Quarter Sessions records.

Sarah Flannery, founder of Knutsford Promenades, said: “I am happy beyond words to see such a huge undertaking succeed. From the simple idea of exhibiting the Quarter Sessions records of Regina v Turing and Murray in the very court room of the trial, the potential to tell the full story of an extraordinary man and his legacy, and the impact of an event that took place here in Knutsford, unfolded into a town-wide celebration curated into a 54-event festival that revealed fresh insights into Turing, Murray, and other aspects of our heritage and culture.

“Its success is thanks to the generosity of Cheshire East Council and our sponsors, the support and participation of local venues, organisations and individuals who opened sites and put on events and displays, the guest speakers for the ‘Salon’, the cast and creative team of Regina v Turing and Murray, national HODs, The Courthouse, Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, volunteers who helped with social media and the website, the Knutsford Hosts and Lions, town council officers and of course the visitors from Knutsford, Cheshire and beyond who turned up in their thousands.

“I do feel that this is the story I wanted to tell. Thank you, everyone, for giving us a festival to remember.”

A number of Knutsford’s famous historical buildings were also open to the public as part of the Promenades’ programme.

BBC DJ gives his support to Knutsford Heritage Open Days

FLYING the flag for Knutsford Heritage Open Days, starting today,Thursday, is BBC Radio 6 Music DJ and Knutsford resident Mark Radcliffe.

Organisers of the four-day town-wide festival which starts today, Thursday, September 8, to Sunday, September 11, the Knutsford Promenades Community organisation, were delighted to be awarded a special flag by national Heritage Open Days organisers.

“We were one of just 14 events out of more than 5,000 sites and events showcasing heritage across England recognised for making a stand out contribution to the Europe and Us theme,” said Sarah Flannery.

Europe & Us is a summer and autumn National Trust programme celebrating and exploring the UK’s European historical, political and cultural links.

“Establishing links with the Danish Consul, a local Danish network, and the Danish school, Solbjergskolen, as well as the support of Rotary International in Knutsford, has added so much 2016 interest to our celebration of the Canute legend dating back to 1016,” said Sarah.

Mark Radcliffe was delighted to be invited to raise the flag on the Moor.

“I love living in Knutsford so much and it’s great to be part of celebrating its heritage,” he said.

“I may only have lived here for three years but I can’t imagine ever calling anywhere else home.”

Canute’s Crossing takes place on Saturday, September 10 from 2pm to 4.30pm when people will pay homage to the legend by crossing the River Lily alongside the Chester Vikings who will be giving Knutsfordians a feel for life as a Viking.

This is just one of the 34 sites and events which make up Knutsford Heritage Open Days’ extensive programme ranging from the special opening of the Royal George Ballroom, immortalised as Elizabeth Gaskell’s Assembly Rooms in her novel ‘Cranford’, to the ‘Value Your Valuables’ take on Heritage Open Days’ ‘Treasure Your Treasures’ theme when auctioneer Adam Partridge hosts his own antiques and curios roadshow at Don Giovanni’s King Street restaurant.

“So many groups including the Gaskell Society, Brook Street Chapel, the Tabley House Collection, numerous individuals and businesses who own some of the town’s most iconic buildings, have come together to make this a true community festival,” said Sarah.

“All the details about the four-day event can be found on our website, here.

“So many things are happening including a chat about Alison Uttley’s children’s books, the secrets of Victorian Beauty, music from 1,000 years ago at St Cross Church, sampling a Taste of Cranford with recipes from Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel – even the chance to dance in the Royal George Ballroom. There’s something for everybody to enjoy celebrating Knutsford’s heritage.”