Heritage Open Days – Hundreds of Events in Your Area

As summer fades, England’s largest history and culture festival is back.

This September, hundreds of historic monuments and buildings throughout England – including many usually closed to the public – will throw open their doors for free.

And this year, the festival is celebrating 100 years since some women were granted the vote. To mark this centenary, Heritage Open Days is, for the first time, taking place over not one but two weekends to honour Extraordinary Women.

Discover a handful of the many events taking place in your area on 6–9 and 13–16 September.

North West

Women and the War at Cheadle Hulme School


Just 15 minutes from our Hazel Grove development is Cheadle Hulme School, formerly The Warehousemen and Clerks’ Orphan Schools. On Sunday 16 September, to mark 100 years since the end of World War I, you can take a tour of the school’s historic buildings.

Discover how the war affected the lives of those living and working in the school and learn about the women who played vital roles in the school’s history. Find out more.

Georges Dock Building

Discover what lies behind the iconic Art Deco exterior of the Georges Dock Building, Liverpool. Usually closed to the public, on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 September, it will be opening its doors!

Browse a fascinating exhibition of artefacts and photographs of the building’s past and take a tour of the original control room. You’ll even journey underneath the building to see the Queensway Tunnel that runs under the Mersey.

North East


In the heart of York city centre, just a 10-minute stroll from our Cardinal Court development, learn about the ambitious ongoing HERSTORY.YORK project, which focuses on York’s female ‘change makers’ of the last 100 years.

On Friday 14 September, hear untold stories of these ‘invisible’ women and discover how they have changed our society for the better.

Swing Bridge

On 6–7 and 13–16 September, you’ll have the rare opportunity to see inside the iconic Swing Bridge in Newcastle.

Take a tour of this Grade I listed structure and admire the complex pump and engine room operated by the Port of Tyne.

East Midlands

Leicester Town Hall

Leicester’s historic Town Hall is opening its doors on Saturday 8 September. Take a day trip into Leicester from our Quorn development and find out more about this magnificent Victorian monument.

Take a guided tour and see the council chambers, tea room, civic plate, courtroom and cells. And hear the tale of how this impressive building was nearly reduced to ruins during World War II. 

West Midlands

Warstone Lane Cemetery

On Saturday 15 September, travel into Birmingham city centre from our Shirley development to the Grade II listed Warstone Lane Cemetery.

Discover if this is the final resting place of your ancestors. Friends of the cemetery will be on hand to help you to track your ancestry and take a guided tour to the nearby historic Key Hill Cemetery. 

Coventry Archives

The Coventry History Centre is being relaunched as Coventry Archives on Saturday 15 September.

Stop by and wonder at the wealth of documents, photographs and oral history on display – as well as an outstanding display of maps – telling the story of Coventry from medieval times to the present day. 

May Hill’s Amazing Diaries and Poetry

A prominent wartime poet, May Hill was a local Lincolnshire lass. At a futuristic new venue near her home, delve into her life through her diaries, as well as photographs and new artwork. The exhibition is open every day over the Heritage Open Days festival.

North London

Watford Palace Theatre

Step behind the scenes and back in time in this historic Watford theatre, just half an hour from our Highclere House development. This open day, on Sunday 16 September, will focus on the World War II era.

Try on a World War II flying jacket and see how you fare at code breaking before taking a tour backstage to discover the inner workings of the theatre.

BT Heritage and Archives

Usually open only to researchers, the Archives will, for one day only (Friday 14 September), be open to the public.

Listen to oral histories, watch films from the 1930s and peruse archive materials about the history of BT – the world’s oldest communications company. Discover more about women’s employment in the company, the history of the BT tower and BT’s advertising over the years. Find out more.

South East

Guildford Institute 

From The Clockhouse, hop on a bus into town on Saturday 15 September and make the most of this opportunity to explore the Guildford Institute’s historic library.

Peruse extensive records on Guildford and the surrounding area, including books, photographs, prints and more. And reflect on the fascinating exhibition focusing on female explorers.

Theatre Royal Margate

Explore behind the scenes at the Theatre Royal Margate for just one afternoon on Saturday 15 September. Sit in the Royal Box, admire the view from the Gods and soak up the historic atmosphere of this, the second oldest working theatre in the UK.

South West

Wheal Martyn – Heavy Transport

Just 15 minutes from our Ocean House development is Wheal Martyn Clay Works. On Saturday 8 September, discover the story of the local area’s China clay industry and the heavy transport used. Vintage vehicles, heavy horses and modern industry heavy weights will be on display. Pore over images and watch fascinating films that reveal more about the industry’s past. 

Harnham Water Meadows

On Friday 7 and Saturday 8 September, take a guided tour of Harnham Water Meadows in Salisbury, which date back to the 17th century.

Learn about this historic meadow irrigation system while enjoying marvellous views of Salisbury Cathedral. And discover the conservation efforts that are undertaken by dedicated volunteers. 

Southern England

Scaplen’s Court

On Saturday 15 September, take a tour through time at Scaplen’s Court. This charming 15th-century house is just 15 minutes from our Waterman House development. Observe medieval, Elizabethan and Georgian elements as you are guided through this wondrous house.

HMS Excellent

Tour the grounds of HMS Excellent in Portsmouth and discover the fascinating history of this naval establishment. Built on an island constructed by convicts, it was the first Naval Gunnery School. It once even housed a zoo!

Open all day on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 September, in the grounds you’ll find a church, a museum and even a State Gun Carriage.