Heritage Open Days 2015

From 10 to 13 September 2015, Heritage Open Days once again shone a light on England’s fascinating and inspiring historic places. This annual festival celebrates our diverse history, architecture and culture offering people the chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences - all for free.

Many places that we look after joined in and some of the highlights are listed below.

In 2016 the festival will run from 8 to 11 September and details of what’s on will be available from mid-July.

    Allan Bank, Cumbria

    A couple sitting and looking at the view through the window

    A distinctive Lake District Villa, William Wordsworth was the first tenant of Allan Bank in 1808 along with his circle of Lake Poets. For the first time the labyrinthine cellars of Allan Bank will be opened up for Heritage Open Days, giving visitors the chance to explore the original footprint of the house.

    • Saturday 12 September 2015
    Booking preferred

    Arlington Court, Devon

    A view of the entrance to Arlington Court from the garden

    Take a step back in time at Arlington Court on the edge of Exmoor, which is putting on a ‘Victorian School Days’ event for Heritage Open Days. Discover what school would have been like for Victorian children, join in with traditional Victorian games and learn about the last child to grow up at Arlington Court.

    • Saturday 12 September 2015
    • Booking not required

    Godolphin, Cornwall

    The circular lawn in front of Godolphin House

    Godolphin joins Heritage Open Days for the first time this year, offering visitors the chance to stroll around the 16th-century garden, explore the rolling woodland, take in the views over St Ives Bay and St Michael’s Mount and channel a little Poldark at the remains of the Godolphin family mine.

    • Saturday 12 September 2015
    • Booking not required

    Mompesson House, Wiltshire

    The Dining Room at Mompesson House, Wiltshre

    Mompesson House celebrates the twentieth anniversary of its role in the 1995 film Sense and Sensibility during Heritage Open Days. A new exhibition includes costumes from the film and historic Regency drawings and accessories and explores the links between the fictional Dashwood sisters and the Portman sisters, who lived at Mompesson when Jane Austen was alive.

    • Saturday 12 September 2015
    • Booking not required

    Nymans, West Sussex

    luxurious main lawn of Nymans set against dramatic backdrop of Gothic ruins

    Nymans may be most famous for its garden, but the ruined Messel House is a wonderfully atmospheric site. For Heritage Open Days, Nymans is offering the chance to see areas of the house that are usually closed to the public and to look behind the scenes with members of the team who run the house.

    • Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September 2015
    • Booking not required

    Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex

    An image of Middle Lake showing some autumn colour in mid October

    Explore the garden and wider estate of Sheffield Park and Garden to learn more about the history of this fascinating landscape including the influences of 'Capability' Brown and Humphry Repton. For Heritage Open Days the Second World War pillbox in the parkland, which is usually closed to visitors, will also be open all day.

    • Saturday 12 September 2015
    • Booking not required

    Steam Yacht Gondola, Cumbria

    Steam Yacht Gondola

    New for Heritage Open Days this year, step on board the Steam Yacht Gondola and go behind the scenes of the rebuilt Victorian steam-powered yacht. Chat to the crew about looking after the historic vessel, explore the workings of the steam engine and see photographs not usually on show of the original gondola and its rescue from the lake bed in the 1970s.

    • Friday 11 September 2015
    • Booking not required

    Stoneywell, Leicestershire

    Stoneywell, Ulverscroft, Leicstershire. An Arts & Crafts house

    Opened in February 2015, Stoneywell, an Arts and Crafts cottage in the Charnwood Forest, will be showing conservation in action during Heritage Open Days. Find out how Stoneywell's unique collection is cared for and why vegetable oil and cocktail sticks are an essential part of a conservator's kit.

    • Saturday 12 September 2015
    Booking required

    Treasurer's House, York, North Yorkshire


    Tucked behind York Minster, Treasurer's House reveals wealthy industrialist Frank Green's love of furniture and interior design and was the first house to come into our care complete with a collection. For Heritage Open Days there will be ghost tours of the cellars as well as tours exploring the hidden attic spaces that were once home to the servants of the household.

    • Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September 2015
    • Booking not required

    Special openings

    Showing Ecton Engine House in the Manifold Valley during the refurbishment work in 2013

    As part of Heritage Open Days you can also explore several places not normally open to the public:

    East of England
    • Cambridgeshire: Ramsey Abbey Gatehouse and 'Lady Chapel'
    • Essex: Sherman’s House, Dedham
    • Suffolk: Valley Farm, Flatford
    • Norfolk: Manor House (farmhouse), Blickling Estate

    London and South East
    • East Sussex: Blackfriars’ Barn Cellar, Winchelsea
    • Surrey: Reigate Fort
    • Buckinghamshire: The Gothic Temple, Stowe

    • Staffordshire: Ecton Engine House, Manifold Valley

    North East
    • Tyne & Wear: Holy Jesus Hospital, Newcastle

    North West
    • Cumbria: Cartmel Priory Gatehouse, YHA Langdale, High Close

    South West
    • Cornwall: Gribbin Daymark, Gribbin Head

Heritage Open Days is supported by funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery.