Heritage Open Days

PUBLISHED: 00:17 21 January 2012 | UPDATED: 16:13 20 February 2013

Heritage Open Days

Heritage Open Days

Go behind the scenes and discover some of the most fascinating places in the country as part of the nation's Heritage Open Days...

Go behind the scenes and discover some of the most fascinating places in the country as part of the nation's Heritage Open Days...

From September 10-13 all kinds of buildings and locations will be opening their doors and gates to allow us a glimpse into their hidden past. Many are marking the occasion with special events and allowing entry into areas not normally accessible to the public. Teams of experts will be on hand to answer questions and with hundreds of places from which to choose nationwide, you're bound to find something that particularly interests you. Buckinghamshire and Berkshire have more than their fair share of fascinating historical locations - here are a few of our favourites - or why not visit the website to choose your own at www.heritageopendays.org.uk.

The King's Head, National Trust

The outskirts of Aylesbury and its shopping precincts don't do justice to its old quarter and its unparalleled past. One of the oldest coaching inns in the country, The King's Head has strong associations with the Civil War. Special talks are being held every hour for the Open Days and no entry fee will be charged.
Open September 12-13, 11am-3pm.

Boarstall Tower, National Trust

This 14th-century moated gatehouse and gardens are tenanted with limited opening arrangements and the Heritage Open Days are the last of only five dates this year. Built by John de Haudlo in 1312 you can see the medieval belfry, cross loops and crenellations.

High Wycombe
Hughenden Manor, National Trust

Benjamin Disraeli was one of the nation's most unlikely Prime Ministers and his country home at Hughenden Manor offers an amazing glimpse into his private and personal life through furnishings, paintings, memorabilia and historical vignettes as well as his wife Mary Anne's beautiful gardens. Open September 12, garden 11am-5pm, Manor 1-5pm. Entry free for the day.

Widmere Chapel

Once used for housing caskets and coffins, this 12th century chapel crypt has, in the past, also been used as a dairy! Not normally open to the public, it has an impressive east window and bell and possible connections with the Knights Tem-plar. Open September 13, 2-4pm. Organised by Marlow Society.

Halton House

Commissioned by Alfred Rothschild to join the other Rothschild family residences in Buckinghamshire, Halton House was completed in 1883 and for 30 years provided the venue for Alfred's sparkling weekend house parties. In 1918, the House was acquired by the fledgling Royal Air Force and, for the past 90 years, has served as the Officers' Mess for Royal Air Force Halton. Open September 13, 10.30am-4pm.

Kennet & Avon Canal Trust
Visitor Centre

Get a glimpse of 18th century cottage life complete with the original kitchen building, range and wash copper. There will also be a special exhibition relating to the canal itself on the open day. Open September 12, 10am-4pm. Organised by Aldermaston Parish Plan Group & Parish Council.

St Michael and St Mary
Magdalene Church

If you're a fan of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood and the era of the Arts & Crafts Movement you'll love this church's beauty for the windows by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. Church and churchyard tours, displays and a children's trail will be rounded off by a Festal Evensong at 6pm on Sunday. Open September 10, 11am-2.30pm; September 12, 10am-4pm; September 13, 10.45am-1pm and 2-4pm. Evensong 6pm. Organised by Bracknell Forest Borough Council.


Wellington College is a co-educational boarding school founded by Queen Victoria and Prime Minister the Earl of Derby in 1859. It is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. A guided tour of the building will take place in the Chapel, the Great School, and the Old Hall. The Grounds will also be open. Pre-booking is required. September 13 only: tours 11am and 2pm.

Camp Hopson Department Store

Love shopping? Camp Hopson is a department store with a difference. The building it relocated to in 1921 dates back to 1663 and features Doric and Ionic pilasters of very rare rubbed brick which grace the first and second storeys. There's a 17th century staircase and a rare 18th century plaster ceiling complete with cherub, flowers and fruit. Open September 11; September 12, with tours at 10am and 4pm; September 13, with tours at 10am and 2pm. Organised by the Newbury Society.

Newbury Racecourse

Built in 1905 with the support of King Edward V111, the Jockey Weighing Room and Royal Box of Newbury Racecourse are not usually open to the public, but in honour of the Heritage Open Days, tours are offered on September 12 & 13 at 10am, noon and 2pm. Organised by the Newbury Society.

Sonning and Historical Walks

Beautiful Sonning's Episcopal past has lent importance and finance to its domestic, vernacular and public architecture. Tours and walks of this Thames riverside village have been organised by Sonning & Sonning Eye Society, to include many of the listed buildings. Join the walks on September 11, 12 &13, 1.15pm and 2.15pm.


The Mere, Upton Park

This striking Victorian mansion, set in beautiful grounds, was the family home of the Bent-leys, publishers of many well-known writers including Charles Dickens. The house retains a number of original features including fireplaces, ceilings, panelling, light fixtures and paint-ings. Tours will be held on September 12 at 1,2,4 and 4pm. Book your tickets in advance via email at History@nfer.ac.uk .

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