The annual Heritage Open Days returns in September, that version of London Open House that takes place outside London for those of you brave enough to venture outside Greater London.

Like its London namesake, a lot of buildings are opened up to just wander in, and some more special places need prebooking.

My personal tip is to find a few choice places that are close to each other that need booking, then fill in the gaps with the churches and small stuff that happen to be open.

I spent a very nice day hopping between Woking and Guildford a couple of years back that way.


Currently, there are 570 venues open in the South-East, and my pick of the best are…

A peep behind closed doors at Uppark

Uppark House and Garden, South Harting, Petersfield, West Sussex, GU31 5QR

A chance to take a peep behind doors that are normally closed to visitors.
Opening Times

  • Saturday 13 September

Behind the Scenes at Chichester Cathedral

West Street, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1PX

The Song School located high up in the Cathedral’s triforium and reached by a winding spiral staircase is where the Cathedral choir practice twice daily. The Cathedral Library houses a fascinating collection of rare books situated in the Cathedral heights. The Bishop’s Chapel is the private chapel of the Bishop of Chichester.

  • Saturday 13 September

image8_210_140_80_s_c1John Lewis Kingston Riverside

Riverside Walk, 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. Event not suitable for children under the age of

  • Saturday 13 September
  • Sunday 14 September

Lovelace_Mausoleum_3_210_292_80_s_c1Lovelace Mausoleum

Ockham Road South, Guildford, Surrey, KT24 6RL

Grade II listed building, built by the 1st Earl of Lovelace at the end of the 19th century, in the unique Lovelace architectural style that dominates East Horsley, a combination of flint, with moulded red, white and black terracotta brickwork. The interior comprises a tall and airy vault with a fine groined brick dome, similar to that found in the chapel of the nearby Horsley Towers.

  • Friday 12 September
  • Saturday 13 September
  • Sunday 14 September

Guildford_Cathedral_210_166_80_s_c1Guildford Cathedral and Tower (booking required)

Stag Hill, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7UP

Grade II* listed building. Designed by Sir Edward Maufe, the first Anglican cathedral to be built on a new site in the south of England since the reformation. Climb the 249 steps up the tower for wonderful views of Guildford and beyond.

  • Saturday 13 September
  • Sunday 14 September

graham_and_co_210_158_80_s_c120A West Street

Graham & Co Jewellers, 20a West Street, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 7DR

This little shop hides an astonishing secret, an ornately plastered ceiling dating to the mid-17th century which was made for the Earl of Shaftesbury as a ‘pattern’ for a ceiling in his house in Wimborne. The ceiling was later covered up until it was rediscovered in the 20th century.

  • Thursday 11 September
  • Friday 12 September
  • Saturday 13 September

Royal_Holloway_Founders_210_140_80_s_c1Royal Holloway, University of London

Egham Hill, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX

Royal Holloway, University of London, welcomes the public to explore its spectacular grade I listed Founder’s Building, Picture Gallery, Chapel, refurbished Boilerhouse and extensive grounds. The Founder’s Building, founded by entrepreneur, Thomas Holloway and opened by Queen Victoria in 1886, is modelled on the Château de Châmbord in the Loire Valley. Its flamboyant architecture makes it one of the most impressive university buildings in the world.

  • Sunday 14 September

Dorking Caves (booking required)

South Street, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 2HQ

Part of Dorking’s extensive system of cellars and caves cut into the soft Greensand dating back to at least the 17th century. Entrance is via a discreet doorway at street level into extensive galleries used, until recently, as wine cellars. From the wine cellars a series of steep staircases lead down deep under Butter Hill to a cave of uncertain age and purpose. Explore the caves with expert guide Richard Selley.

  • Saturday 13 September

Air Raid Shelter and Static Engine Collection

The White House, Chapel Lane, Westcott, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 3PJ

Visit the air raid shelter built in cast concrete by a previous owner during the Second World War. See petrol, oil and gas engines (some running) made from 1899 until 1950. Also early electrical generators and switch gear.

  • Friday 12 September
  • Saturday 13 September
  • Sunday 14 September

1480734_767049293318725_713066890968847193_n_210_119_80_s_c1The Old Ticket Office At Culham Station

Culham Station, Culham, Oxfordshire, OX14 3BT

The Old Ticket Office is a beautiful old station building designed and built for the Great Western Railway company by Brunel in the early 1800s. The building is Grade II listed and has not been open to the public since it ceased being the main ticket office and waiting rooms for Culham Station. Entikera Ltd started to rent the property in May 2014 and we’re opening our doors to the general public so that you can come and enjoy this beautiful building and see inside the first class waiting room, third class waiting room and the ticket office.

  • Friday 12 September
  • Saturday 13 September
  • Sunday 14 September

Penshurst_ROC_Mark_Russell_988289358.037003_Pic5_pen3__210_158_80_s_c1Penshurst Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post (booking required)

Camp Hill, Penshurst, Tonbridge, Kent, TN11 8LP

A rare opportunity to visit a 1962 Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post; a tiny nuclear bunker – one of over 1,700 built across the UK in the darkest days of the Cold War to warn the public of impending attack (the so called Four Minute Warning), watch the skies for nuclear blasts and monitor the resulting damage and nuclear fall out.

  • Saturday 13 September
  • Sunday 14 September

air_raid_shelter_210_204_80_s_c1St Matthew’s Primary School Air Raid Shelter

Powder Mill Lane, High Brooms, Southborough, Kent, TN4 9DY

World War II air raid shelter under playground, with historical display. Once equipped with shovels, picks, a crowbar and a seven pound hammer in case of direct hits, the shelter was used with great frequency from 1940.

  • Thursday 11 September
  • Friday 12 September

(5)_IMG_8212_3_4_tonemapped_copy_210_140_80_s_c1Grand Shaft Staircase

Western Heights, Snargate Street, Dover, Kent, CT17 9BZ

Triple spiral staircase built 1803-1809 connecting the Grand Shaft barracks on the cliff top with Snargate Street at sea level.

  • Saturday 13 September
  • Sunday 14 September

Behind the Scenes at Canterbury Cathedral Library (booking required)

Canterbury Cathedral Library, The Precinct, Canterbury, Kent

The displays will focus on items from the book collections of parish churches in East Kent which are kept in the Library. These churches are Crundale, Elham and Preston-next-Wingham. They are fascinating collections of books covering a range of subjects, and date from the 16th century onwards.

  • Friday 12 September
  • Saturday 13 September

wishtowerweb_210_289_80_s_c1The Wish Tower, Eastbourne (booking required)

King Edward’s Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4EE

The Wish Tower is a Napoleonic Martello tower that has only recently been reopened to the public. It’s largely in its original condition allowing visitors to get a good idea of conditions of the garrison. Visitors will be limited in any one tour for reasons of safety, but hard hats, torches and hi-viz vests will be supplied. All visitors must wear suitable footwear (flat, sturdy shoes or boots, please) and will be taken to all three floors from the basement with its powder room right up to the roof.

  • Saturday 13 September
  • Sunday 14 September

belt_going_to_bailer_210_158_80_s_c1MK Recycling Factory History and Tour (booking required)

Colts Holm Road, Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK12 5QD

Tours include a presentation, a video of the machinery at work and then out along the gallery walkway into the factory.

  • Thursday 11 September
  • Friday 12 September
  • Saturday 13 September

H G Matthews Brick Yard

The Brick Works, Bellingdon, Chesham, Buckinghamshire, HP5 2UR

H.G.Matthews is a working brickworks and produce hand-made bricks for renovation of many historic buildings and prestigious heritage sites including Chequers, Hampton Court and many National Trust properties. They have recently started using wood-fired kilns to achieve better matches to old bricks.

  • Sunday 14 September

…more venues are usually added closer to the date, so worth checking then as well.

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