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Heritage Open Days: Where to visit in Hampshire

PUBLISHED: 10:36 06 September 2016

Explore one of the first seaplane bases of the Royal Navy at Calshot Castle

Explore one of the first seaplane bases of the Royal Navy at Calshot Castle


A celebration of Britain’s hidden history, the annual Heritage Open Days event sees some of the county’s most fascinating buildings opening their doors to visitors. Claire Pitcher looks at some of the highlights here in Hampshire


Fort Rowner, HMS Sultan, Gosport - September 10

Explore one of the Palmerston Forts built to defend Portsmouth Harbour from the French. The tour takes you through the Tunnels, Caponiers, haunted Keep and Fort Museum in the grounds of the Royal Navy training establishment HMS Sultan.

• Tour times: 9am, 10.30am, 12pm, 1.30pm & 3pm

• Military Road, Gosport, PO12 3BY

Calshot Castle, Southampton - September 9 & 10

Located at the end of Calshot Spit, Calshot Castle was constructed as one of Henry VIII’s coastal defences, protecting the entrance to Southampton Water. In 1913, Calshot became one of the first seaplane bases of the Royal Navy and the castle was modified to accommodate searchlights, roof-mounted guns and shell storage. Now, Calshot Castle features a basement, 1st floor barracks room, 2nd floor gun room and roof with fantastic views across The Solent.

• Open: 10.30am-4.30pm

• Calshot Spit, Southampton, SO45 1BR

Boathouse 4, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard - September 8-11

Go along to the International Boatbuilding Training College at Boathouse 4 to climb up to one of the walkways high above the workshop floor. Hear more about the restoration of this ‘cathedral to engineering’ built in 1938/1939 in the rearmament period before the Second World War.

• Tour times: 10.30am, 12pm, 2.30pm

• Main Road, Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth, PO1 3LJ

Lepe Country Park, Exbury - September 9-11

Enjoy the exhibition of artefacts from Lepe’s Cold War Observation Post and talks by members of the Royal Observer Corps Association. This event is also linking up with the local community events over the weekend where you can explore the local heritage at Calshot Castle, Cadland Gardens, Fawley Church and waterside locations.

• Open: 10am to 3.30pm

• Lepe Country Park, Lepe, Exbury, SO45 1AD


Abbey House Collections, Winchester - September 8 to Saturday 10

Take an hour-long tour of the elegant Abbey House, built in 1700, bought by the city council in 1889 and restored in the 1980s. Its furnishings and pictures have been selected from the city’s collections and the tour offers an opportunity to see items rarely on display.

• Tour times: 10am, 12pm & 2.30pm

• Abbey House, The Broadway, Winchester, SO23 9BE

Alton Quaker Meeting House - September 10

Built in 1672, this is the second oldest Quaker Meeting House in the country. Peruse the ground floor rooms, which includes a meeting room with its original screens and gallery. Outside is the burial ground where Quakers have been buried since the 1670s.

• Open: 10am to 4pm

• 39 Church Street, Alton, GU34 2DA

Ballard School, New Milton - September 10

The main Ballard School building was built as a country residence for the Ubsdell family in the early 1900s and still has typical period features from the day. Take a guided tour of the rooms and period features to see how it’s changed from a country estate to a modern, thriving school.

• Tour times: 9.30am, 10.15am, 11am & 11.45am

• Ballard School, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, BH25 5SU

Chilcomb House, Winchester - September 8

Peek behind the scenes and meet the experts who curate the collections that the Hampshire Cultural Trust takes care of. This includes costumes, artwork, natural history, archaeology, historic transport and social history collections.

• Open: 9.30am-12.30pm & 1.30pm-4.30pm

• Chilcomb House, Chilcomb Lane, Winchester, SO23 8RD

Winchester College Tour - September 8 & 9

Founded in 1382, Winchester College has the longest unbroken history of any English School. Concentrating on the medieval heart of the College, guided tours last around an hour and include Chamber Court, the Chapel, College Hall, the Scholars’ dining room, the 17th century redbrick schoolroom and the medieval cloisters.

• Tour times: 10.15am, 11.30am & 2.15pm

• College Street, Winchester, SO23 9NA

Hampshire Mills Group, Twyford - September 11

An 18th century water mill with two sets of stones for wheat and grain milling. The mill machinery is too fragile to use, but the guides will show you how it was once worked and used.

• Open: 11am-4pm

• Church Lane, Twyford, Winchester, SO21 1NT


Groundlings Theatre, Portsmouth - September 11

Take a tour backstage and see how this remarkable theatre was once the music venue/theatre of the city, with a school house downstairs. Watch, or even take part in workshops with the drama school, and see and hear stories from the costumed actors. There will be lots of activities and workshops for children to take part in including sword fighting, mask making and costume workshops.

• Open: 2pm -5pm

• Groundlings Theatre, 42 Kent St, Portsmouth, PO1 3BS

Binky Bear Trail, Winchester - September 10

Liz Nankivell, co-creator of the children’s book character Binky Bear and the author of the Binky Bear books, will be reading Binky in Trouble at P&G Wells bookshop. Binky Bear will even be there himself. Suitable for children aged two to seven, they will receive a Binky Bear Explorer Pack of trail maps, explorer checklists and colouring sheets. Book in advance by email (binky@binkybear.co.uk) or phone 01962 736136.

• Time: 10am-10.45am

• P & G Wells Bookshop, 11 College Street, Winchester, SO23 9LZ.


Portchester - September 10 & 11

Starting from the car park at Portchester Castle, this walking tour will include a viewing of the medieval castle from the outside, examples of a variety of domestic architectural styles along the historic Castle Street and an investigation of the changing land use in this conservation area.

• Walk time: 2.30pm

• Portchester Castle, Castle Street, PO16 9QW

Historic Aldershot Military Town - September 11

This guided walk takes in the development of the garrison from the original Victorian camp, 20th century rebuilding, and current development. The walk is about four miles and includes a talk at the Prince Consort’s Library, plus a chance to see inside the Alexander Observatory.

• Walk time: 10am-1.30pm

• Meet in the car park at the corner of Queen’s Avenue and Prince’s Avenue, Aldershot, GU11


Bell ringing at St Peter and St Paul’s, Hambledon - September 8

See the bells and witness Church change ringing in two methods, Grandsire and Change. You can chat to the ringers before chiming one of the bells yourself.

• Open: 7.30pm to 9pm

• Church Lane, Hambledon, PO7 4RT

Bursledon Brickworks, Swanwick - September 8 & 11

Make your own brick, get close to the massive brick making machines and see how the men used to run 15 miles a day in the big drying sheds. New this year is a second steam engine and four rooms to show what the brickmakers cottages were like when they were built in 1900 and when they were sold in the 1970s.

• Open: 11am to 4pm

• Swanwick Lane, Southampton, SO31 7HB

World’s Oldest Bowling Green, Southampton - September 10 & 11

Members will be dressed in costumes from the 13th century through to today to play a special Heritage Game of Lawn Bowls. You can have a go too, and be shown round the Clubhouse.

• Open: 10am to 4pm

• 2 Lower Canal Walk, SO14 3AX


Romsey Signal Box - September 10 & 11

Pull the levers that help operate the signal box at Romsey and explore the railway track, signals and other railway items in the indoor visitor centre. The signal box has been closed since the end of 2013 so it is a great chance to see some hidden history.

• Open: 12pm to 5pm

• Brick Lane, Romsey, SO51 8LG

King Alfred Heritage Bus & Coach Display, Winchester - September 10 & 11

Up to 14 buses and coaches formerly operated by King Alfred Motor Services in and around Winchester will be on display at Cattle Market car park this month. These can very rarely be seen together in one place at the same time so don’t miss them when they roll in to the city. Learn more of their history from the volunteers who restore, maintain and operate them. There will be a free vintage bus service between the Broadway and Worthy Lane.

• Open: 10am to 3pm

• Cattle Market Car Park, Worthy Lane, Winchester, SO23 7AB


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