SURREY and East Hampshire’s heritage highlights will be in the spotlight again for this year’s annual Heritage Open Days celebrations next month.
Due to the increasing popularity of these events, the Heritage Open Days period has been expanded nationally and the programme is spread over two periods from September 6-9 and then again from September 13-16.
Farnham, Haslemere and towns in East Hampshire will once again be inviting visitors to come and explore the best buildings and beautiful green open spaces – and the good news is that all visits are free.
Details with essential information about booking can be found in the colourful and lavishly illustrated brochure, with copies now available from council offices and public buildings in and around the towns and surrounding areas.
On the opening day, Saturday, September 8, the Grade II-listed Alton Quaker Meeting House, the second oldest purpose built Quaker Meeting House in the country, will open its doors to the public.
On the same day, people can also enjoy ‘A Day at the Ranges’ at Longmoor Military Firing Range near Bordon, offering the change to visit Edwardian Hythe targets, Bronze Age barrows, Queen Anne’s Bank and a 17th century rangers cottage.
And also on September 8, Haslemere Museum will celebrate its 130th anniversary with a special trail and activities for children, and afternoon tea all in the wonderful setting of the museum’s beautiful gardens.
Twenty-four hours later, history lovers can enjoy an 18th century period costume walk to celebrate the new Gilbert White Trail in the Hogmoor Inclosure, Whitehill, as well as tours of Undershaw, the magnificently restored home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - writer of the Sherlock Homes novels, the latter to be repeated on Sunday, September 16.
Discover what’s in store at the Gilbert White and The Oates Collections for free for one day only on Thursday, September 13, including a rare opportunity also to see artefacts not usually on display.
Alternatively, lovers of Jane Austen have two events to choose from on Thursday, September 13.
Join garden manager Andrew Bentley for a ‘A Walk in Jane’s footsteps’ at Chawton House Library, Chawton, near Alton from 11am.
And in the afternoon, nearby Jane Austen’s House Museum will host a ‘Jane Austen’s Treasures’ talk, revealing the stories behind some of the museum’s hidden treasures.
Did you know that the Mid Hants Railway’s magnificent flagship steam locomotive would have been built by a mainly female workforce? Come discover more about this story and other fascinating stories at the ‘Women on the Railways’ exhibition in Ropley on Saturday, September 15, and Sunday, September 16.
Visitors can also explore behind the scenes of The Watercress Line at the Ropley engineering hub, and discover what is involved in renovating and maintaining a steam locomotive.
Finally, on Sunday, September 16, learn about our culinary history and see the unique and beautifully restored Alresford ‘eel house’ from 11am to 5pm.
Built in the 1820s to trap eels for the family at Arlebury Park House, it also supplied eels to London’s Billingsgate Market.
Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture, bringing together more than 2,500 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers nationwide.
Every year in September, places across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history.
It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – and it’s all free!
Some walks and tours require advance booking, so it’s important to get a copy early.
Green spaces large and small will be featured in Farnham’s Heritage Open Days, ranging from the windy hills of Farnham Park to riverside Gostrey Meadow, from the historic walled town gardens at the library and the museum, right down to the tiny dry garden framing the entrance to the Crafts Study Centre in Falkner Road.
Several guided walks around these important green areas will be on offer - a tour starting in the little secret Victoria Garden next to Sainsbury’s in South Street, and finishing in the grounds of Farnham Castle – for the less mobile, this will also be given as a ‘virtual walk’, an illustrated talk.
Visitors can join a walk by the river in the little-known Bishops Meadow, which is owned by a trust and managed for wildlife, or be escorted around green spaces in the Bourne.
They can also join tours of historic Farnham Park or be shown round the peaceful ruins of Waverley Abbey.
Green spaces in and around the town are marked in the brochure with a green leaf symbol.
Farnham is kicking off Heritage Open Days celebrations on Saturday, September 8, with opportunities to visit the Rural Life Centre in Tilford for craft demonstrations, hands-on activities and guided tours, or to go to the magnificent mansion Waverley Abbey House for tours and the chance to walk round the historic grounds and lake, with views of the abbey ruins across the fields.
On Sunday, September 9, Farnham’s most important and oldest building, the castle with its Norman keep will be open all day from 11am to 5pm with unmissable attractions for young and old alike.
There will be re-enactments by the Civil War Society, a hog roast, cream teas on the Great Lawn, full afternoon teas accompanied by a harpist in the historic setting of the Great Hall, and much else.
In the second period, 25 varied properties will be open in Farnham town centre with tours and demonstrations.
Morris dancers will be making a welcome return and special events will include a talk in the historic council chamber at the council offices on ‘Something to Shout About – the Role of the Town Crier’, given by Farnham’s town crier Jonathan Jones.
Farnham Rep are giving two performances with green-themed readings under the title ‘In England’s Green and Pleasant Land’, and to mark the centenary of the passing of the 1918 Representation of the People Act.
Dr Chris Wiley will be giving a talk on Dame Ethel Smyth, suffragette and composer.
Outside the town centre a further 10 fascinating properties in Farnham’s surrounding villages will welcome visitors.
At the Victorian Farnham Pottery in Wrecclesham there will be an exhibition of photographs taken just before the traditional pottery business closed down, and the popular cafe with its wonderful home-made food will be open all day.
This year for the first time Coxbridge Farm, with its history going back to the 15th century, is offering visitors the opportunity of seeing inside the listed barns, and take a tour of the farm land in an open tractor-drawn trailer.
Also for the first time, South Farnham Infants School, previously known as the Bourne School, will be bringing back memories for many people by opening its doors, as will Badshot Lea Village Hall, housed in the historic village kiln.
The town’s events are presented by the Farnham Society, with generous support from the town council, but the biggest credit must go to the property owners all over the town and surrounding area who voluntarily open their doors, set up demonstrations and exhibitions, and welcome visitors from far and wide to come and sample all that Farnham has to offer.
This is Farnham at its best and everyone is welcome.