2013 Heritage Open Days

From 12-15 September, Heritage Open Days will once again celebrate England’s most amazing historic places and will this year highlight all of those who have played a key role in our heritage, including the homes of artists and architects, diarists and journalists, monarchs, and everyman.

As part of Heritage Open Days 2013, many of our places are throwing open their doors for free on Saturday 14 September, with many showcasing rarely seen rooms, parts of the house and hidden gems.

This includes places such as A la Ronde in Devon and Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, both of which recently featured on the ITV documentary series 'Britain’s Secret Treasures', hosted by Michael Buerk.

Here are just some of the fantastic places that you can visit for free as part of Heritage Open Days - check our full list of participating places before you visit.

    Nymans, West Sussex

    Visit Nymans for Heritage Open Days and receive a rare opportunity to look behind-the-scenes of the atmospheric ruins of the Messel house with members of the house team.

    Learn about the rooms that were lost in the fire of 1947 and see areas normally closed to the public and explore the show rooms which were once occupied by Anne Messel. You can also see inside the seldom open iconic Dovecote.

    Finish your day with a leisurely stroll through the gardens and woodlands.

    Gibside, Tyne & Wear

    Discover fantastic Derwent Valley views, miles of walks in wide open spaces while wild life spotting or exploring elegant buildings and ruins.

    Gibside is a Georgian grand design, the vision of coal baron George Bowes and his daughter, the 'unhappy countess', Mary Elenor.

    This Heritage Open Days highlights include the rare opening of Gibside crypt and the spectacular banqueting house, a gothic folly converted by the Landmark Trust as a holiday accommodation, plus behind the scenes access to the stables and family fun in the great outdoors.

    Leith Hill, Surrey

    The house at Leith Hill was the childhood home of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, who gave the property to the National Trust. It was also a Wedgwood family home and Charles Darwin was a relation and frequent visitor.

    This is the first time that the house has been fully open to the public and is unlike other Trust properties, not being fully restored. You'll get the chance to see a house in transition as we throw open the doors for free. There will be art, craft and musical activities, refreshments and a hands-on activities for families, centred on the three historical connections with the house - music, art and pottery and the natural world.

    A la Ronde, Devon

    7-8 and 14-15 September, 11am-5pm
    It wasn’t only gentlemen who undertook the ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe in the 18th century; cousins Jane and Mary Parminter also travelled abroad, and on their return commissioned this unique, 16-sided house. Containing many wonderful objects and mementoes from their travels, the house was also showcased on the recent ITV Secret Treasure’s documentary.

    A la Ronde will be opening its doors for free on this weekend and there will be lots of trails, costumes, garden games and craft activities for all to enjoy.

    * Booking is not required, for more information please call 01395 265514.

    Blickling Estate, Norfolk

    Old School, Mausoleum and Tower at the Blickling Estate, Norfolk
    14 September, 10.30am-3pm

    For four centuries, the 4,700 acre Blickling Estate has been at the heart of the Norfolk community, offering a home to many – from the famous Boleyn family to the RAF in more recent times.

    For this year’s Heritage Open Days a wealth of period buildings on the Estate will be opening their doors, which are not normally open to the public. This includes the Old School, built in 1867 for local children by Lady Constance Lothian, owner of the Blickling Estate at the time.

    Visitors will also be able to see inside the unique pyramid Mausoleum and also the Tower, which was designed for watching horse racing in Tower Park.

    * Charges will still apply for admission into Blickling Hall and Gardens.
    * Booking is not required, for more information please call 01263 738030.


    Polesden Lacey, Surrey

    14 September, 10am-3.30pm
    This country retreat with breathtaking views of the Surrey Hills, is the perfect space for relaxing with friends and family.

    Once home to the famous Edwardian hostess Mrs. Greville, who entertained royalty and the celebrities of her time, the house is a place of contrasts, with both a touch of Edwardian elegance and muddy countryside walks.

    At Polesden Lacey there are always things for families to do, whether it's giant games in the Orchard, an interactive trail, dressing up or just running around outside. Older kids also will love the popular geocaching trail.

    * Booking is not required, for more information please call 01372 452048.

    Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire

    14 September, 11am-5pm
    Birthplace and family home to world-famous scientist Sir Isaac Newton, Woolsthorpe Manor will be opening for free on this weekend. Highlighted on the recent ITV Secret Treasure’s documentary, visitors will be able to discover the house and see it furnished as it might have been in Newton's 1665-6 'year of wonders'. During this time he split white light into colours and saw the apple fall from the tree that spurred on his thinking about gravity.

    You will also be able to explore some of Newton’s ideas in the Science Discover Centre.

    * Booking is not required, for more information please call 01476 860338.

    Corfe Castle, Dorset

    14 September, 10am-6pm
    One of Britain’s most iconic and evocative ruins, both adults and children alike are captivated by the romance and breathtaking views of Corfe Castle.

    The inspiration for ‘Kirren Castle’ in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, it remains a place to allow imagination to come to life. With over 1,000 years of history as a royal palace and fortress, tales of treachery and treason lurk around every corner. There will also be lots of free family things available to do on the day, including activity booklets and brass rubbings.

    * Booking is not required, for more information please call 01929 481294.

    Bateman's, East Sussex

    14 September, 10am-4.30pm
    Surrounded by the wooded landscape of the Sussex Weald, this 17th century house, with its secluded garden, provided a much needed sanctuary to Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling.

    Explore the spacious garden, working watermill and countryside walks, quizzes and Jungle Book trails at Bateman's this Heritage Open Day.

    * Booking is not required, for more information please call 01435 882302.

    Hill Top, Cumbria

    14 September, 10.30am-4pm
    Mrs Tiggy Winkle, Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck; all familiar names to most children, but what about the woman that created them? Take the family to Hill Top for free and discover the beloved home of author Beatrix Potter.

    A time capsule to her life, there are still many of her possessions and favourite things dotted around the house, and her garden kept as it was in her lifetime.

    * Booking is not required, for more information please call 015394 36269.