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Oh the Horror! Special talk on the history of Hammer marks Heritage Sunday at DMU

Fans of classic horror are being invited to a very special event being held as part of Heritage Sunday which celebrates the city’s hidden gems. 

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A peak inside DMU Heritage Centre's brilliant Hammer Horror exhibition

Guided tours of the Hammer Horror Exhibition, based at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Heritage Centre, are being run from 11am to 3pm on Sunday. At 1pm, fans can hear from research Kieran Foster on Hammer’s “shadow films” – the ones which were never made.

Hear the story of Nessie, a multi-million-dollar production planned between Hammer, US producers Columbia and Japanese company Toho. The plot was simple – the Loch Ness Monster escapes, and goes on a terrifying world tour.

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Nessie - the Hammer film that never saw the inside of a cinema

There’s The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula, which sees the vampire off to India to continue his murderous spree and perhaps most famously, Vampirella: the story of a space vampire who lands on Earth.

Kieran, whose PhD is about the unmade films of Britain’s most famous horror film studio, will be speaking between 1pm and 1.30pm.

He said: “Many people think that Hammer just stopped making films in the early 70s but the truth is that there was a lot of work being done to get new films out there, and fascinating behind the scenes stories.

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“It’s interesting to see just how far some of these films came to the screen but through bad luck or lack of finance, never made it.”

Kieran helped to develop the current Hammer Horror exhibition at the Heritage Centre, which delves into the Hammer archive, which is gifted to DMU’s Cinema and Television History research centre.

Heritage Sundays, which happen once a month in Leicester, see buildings and historical spaces that are not normally open to the public open their doors. A number of new attractions have been added for the first time this year, clustered around the city’s picturesque Castle Gardens, The Newarke and nearby De Montfort University’s campus.

The Heritage Sundays take place on the last Sunday of each month until November 2017, running from 11am to 3pm. The next one takes place on Sunday, April 30. This year DMU is playing a big part thanks to a collaboration between Leicester City Council and Heritage Centre co-ordinator Elizabeth Wheelband.

New sites for 2017 include the 14th century Trinity Hospital Chapel and the nearby tranquil Trinity House Herb Garden in The Newarke, which was once used to grow medicinal herbs for the hospital patients.

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DMU's Trinity Chapel will be open to the public on Sunday

DMU Heritage Centre will also be open to visitors, showcasing the only remaining ruins of the Church of Annunciation, where King Richard III’s remains were publicly displayed following his death at Bosworth in 1485.

Visitors can also explore the nearby 15th century Magazine gateway building or climb to the top of the neighbouring Castle Motte for views over the picturesque Castle Yard, The Newarke and waterside Castle Gardens. From May 28 onwards, Leicester Castle’s Great Hall will also be open for Heritage Sundays.

Other key buildings on the route include St Mary De Castro Church, where Henry VI was knighted and Geoffrey Chaucer was married, and the medieval Turret Gateway which originally separated the religious church precincts from the castle.

Newarke Houses Museum will open its fine herb gardens – some of the oldest in Leicester – which along with its later Regency-style garden offer visitors a beautiful haven of plants and wildlife. The original Newarke Wall can still be seen, complete with the gun loops used to defend the castle in 1645 during then English Civil War.

For those wanting a more in-depth tour of the area’s history, Blue Badge Guides will run guided walks of the Magazine this month, and Leicester Castle Great Hall from May 28. Booking is essential, and can be done through Visit Leicester on 0116 299 4444 or at www.goleicestershire.com

Leicester City Council’s heritage manager Sally Coleman said: “Heritage Sundays give people the chance to explore the city’s fascinating history, including being able to visit places which aren’t normally open.

“This year we’ve joined forces with De Montfort University, whose campus contains a number of important medieval sites such as the Trinity Hospital and herb garden, as well as being home to the university’s own heritage centre.

“There really is a wealth of history in Leicester, and these events are a great way to learn more about the city’s past and appreciate the historic buildings around us.”

Posted on Thursday 27th April 2017

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