The weekend before London Open House Weekend, the rest of the country has a go at a similar thing, with its Heritage Open Days.

Trawling through the list, below are my personal picks that are close to (and sometimes, inside) London.

Bentley Priory

Stanmore, Hertfordshire, HA7 3HH

Bentley Priory, a Grade II* listed Soane House – home to the Duke of Abercorn, Queen Adelaide and HQ Fighter Command at various times in its history.

A limited number of guided tours to allow us to update interested visitors on the progress with our plans to open a museum and education centre within the house.

Opening Times

  • Thursday 8th September: Tours 10am-2pm
  • Friday 9th September: Tours 10am-2pm

To book a place on one of the tours on Thursday and Friday please email Erica Ferguson on bentleypriory@btinternet.com.

Scott’s Grotto

Ware, Hertfordshire, SG12 9JQ

18th century grotto built by the Quaker poet John Scott, consisting of underground passages and chambers decorated with flints, shells, minerals and fossils. Also octagonal summerhouse. Please note: the grotto is not lit, so a torch is essential.

Opening Times

  • Saturday 10th September: 2pm-5pm
  • Sunday 11th September: 2pm-5pm

Air Raid Shelter and Stationary Engine Collection

Dorking, Surrey, RH4 3PJ

Private collection of internal combustion engines ranging from 1899 to 1950, operating on gas, lamp oils and heavy oils. Also on site is an original air raid shelter in cast concrete.

Opening Times

  • Friday 9th September: 12:30-5:30pm
  • Saturday 10th September: 10am–5:30pm
  • Sunday 11th September: 10am–5:30pm

Denbies Wine Estate

Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6AA

England’s largest vineyard, located in the heart of the Surrey Hills. Learn about the history and geology of the estate and take an outdoor vineyard train tour.

Opening Times

  • Thursday 8th September: Tour 10am
  • Friday 9th September: Tour 10am
  • Saturday 10th September: Tour 10am
  • Sunday 11th September: Tour 10am

Pre-Booking Required

Pre-book by email: info@denbiesvineyard.co.uk.

Surrey County Hall – Heritage Day

Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, KT1 2DN

The home of Surrey County Council for 115 years. There have been a number of additions between 1930 and 1982. Guided tours with highlights including the Grand Hall, Council Chamber and former courts and cells.

Opening Times

  • Saturday 10th September: 10am-4pm

John Lewis

Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, KT1 1TE

Discover the chalk & flint vaulted cellar built c.1350 and remains of a medieval bridge c.1170 in the basement of John Lewis.

Opening Times

  • Saturday 10th September: 10am-4pm
  • Sunday 11th September: 11am-4pm

Magistrates’ Court: disused

Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, KT1 1EU

Come and experience the timewarp of this 1935 disused courthouse: Grade II listed and designed by architect Maorice Webb, its three courtrooms will be on display. Tours last approx 1hr 15mins.

Opening Times

  • Saturday 10th September: 10am-3pm, Tour 10:15, 11:30, 12:45 & 14:00

There are also several towns in the South-East of England that have loads of events happening, so if you fancy a general day out with lots to do in one place, then I might suggest the following towns will give you a busy day out.

Cambridgshire

  • Cambridge
  • Peterborough
  • Wisbech

Essex

  • Colchester
  • Maldon

Hertfordshire

  • Hitchin
  • St Albans
  • Watford

Berkshire

  • Newbury
  • Reading

Buckinghamshire

  • Milton Keynes

East Sussex

  • Hastings

Hampshire

  • Gosport

Kent

  • Canterbury
  • Dover
  • Sandwich
  • Tunbridge Wells

Oxfordshire

  • Oxford

Surrey

  • Dorking
  • Farnham
  • Godalming
  • Guildford
  • Kingston upon Thames
  • Leatherhead
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