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Heritage Open Days

Guildford's Heritage Open Days has one of the biggest number of activities and events in the UK, giving visitors the opportunity to explore Guildford's fantastic architecture and culture.

The event allows visitors free access to interesting properties that are either not usually open, or would normally charge an entrance fee. Heritage Open Days also includes guided tours, activities, talks and exhibitions, focusing on local architecture and culture so there is always plenty to see and do.

The Heritage Open Days event takes place from 7 to 10 September, and is organised by Guildford Borough Council, The Guildford Society and The Guildford Town Guide and sponsored by Thesis Asset Management.

Useful guides

Our  icon 2017 Heritage Open Days brochure [9.75Mb]  is available to download. There is also an online event directory where you can search for events and information around the country, please visit the Heritage Open Days website. 

If you would like a printed copy of our brochure, they are available from the Tourist Information Centre, 155 High Street, or from the Council offices, Millmead.

Why not find out more about Effingham and download a copy of the icon Effingham Heritage Trail [2.03Mb]  and also icon The Bishop's Walk [1.32Mb]  which provides an opportunity to explore the area.

Amendments and cancellations

Due to unforeseen circumstances The Wey Quartet will no longer be able to perform on Saturday 9 September, Castle Grounds Bandstand.

Additional activities during Heritage Open Days

During this year's Heritage Open Days, Guildford Museum and Castle Grounds will be offering special activities for everyone to enjoy.

Join us in celebrating Guildford's rich history by exploring and getting to know Guildford Museum and Castle Grounds in more detail. See our Heritage Open Days' offers below.

Heritage Explorers Trail

Be a heritage explorer for the day and try out our free family trail. The Heritage Explorers trail will take you first around the Museum and introduce you to special objects from our collection, and then to the castle grounds where we will share some intriguing plant stories with you. See if you can discover the oldest tree in the castle grounds. 

The trail is available from Guildford Museum, Thursday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm.

This is a family trail over two historic sites so children and parents/guardians must share this activity together.

The trail is free and there's no need to book.

Your Stories, Your Museum stand

As part of Your Stories, Your Museum, we want to hear the memories of Guildford, from local people and visitors alike.

Come along to Guildford's Museum and Castle Grounds, and through collections of old photos and objects, discover how things have changed, in and around Guildford. We are keen to hear your memory or story of the town, and find out what you think makes it special.

Available at Guildford Museum on Thursday and Friday, during normal opening hours and in the grounds of Guildford Castle on Saturday 9 September from 11am to 4pm.

This is a free event and there's no need to book.

Guildford Museum Tour

Join our Access Officer Melanie Holliker on this tour of the four buildings that make up Guildford Museum. The oldest dates back to 1554.

The tour starts at 11.30am on Saturday 9 September.

The tour is free and there's no need to book but arrive early as spaces will be limited.

Please note that this tour will involve steps.

History of Guildford Museum

If you're unable to join our guided tour, drop into Guildford Museum to see our new audio-visual video display about the history of the four buildings that make up Guildford Museum.

The audio-visual display is available during Guildford Museum's opening hours, 11am to 5pm, Thursday to Saturday.

The display is free to view and there's no need to book.

Hands-on History

Get hands-on with objects from the Museum's collections.

Be a museum detective and use the clues to work out what the mystery objects are.

Hands-on History is available during normal opening hours, 11am to 5pm, Thursday to Saturday.

This is a free event and there's no need to book.

West Horsley Place

West Horsley Place, Epsom Road, West Horsley, Surrey, KT24 6AN  will also be opening during Heritage Open Days. This year the Mary Roxburghe Trust is carrying out emergency repair works to the house, with a longer term programme of restoration over the next five years. The restoration and conversion of the 18th century stable block and barns to an arts and crafts teaching and exhibition space is planned for 2018. 

Not usually open to the public, the Heritage Open Days tours of West Horsley Place offer a special opportunity explore the history and beauty of this unique house and gardens.

Opening Times: Saturday 9 September: 12pm - 4pm and Sunday 10 September: 11am - 16pm
Booking opens: 21 August 2017 10am
Booking closes: 7 September 2017 5pm

The gardens are free to explore but tours of the house must be pre-booked. Booking Contact: Clare Clinton, contact 01483 282032, Email: info@westhorsleyplace.org. For full details please visit Heritage Open Days West Horsley Place.

About Heritage Open Days

The event is coordinated locally by Guildford Borough Council, The Guildford Society and the Guildford Town Guides.

Heritage Open Days is the country's largest heritage festival with around 5,000 events, over 40,000 volunteers and more than three million visitors taking part.

Heritage Open Days operates as part of the  National Trust with funding from players of People's Postcode Lottery. Established in 1994, it is England's contribution to the European Heritage Days, which is held annually in September in 50 signatory states to the European Cultural Convention.

How you can get involved

If you own a property or represent an organisation within the borough and would like to get involved in Heritage Open Days, we would love to hear from you. Alternatively if you would like to volunteer to help steward participating properties, please get in touch by emailing managementsupport@guildford.gov.uk.

Heritage Days 2016

Thousands of visitors enjoyed a look behind closed doors at our 2016 Heritage Open Days. The four day event (8 to 11 September) showcased a range of activities from tours of historic buildings, guided walks, village churches and re-enactments bringing historical events to life.

The Mayor of Guildford, Councillor Gordon Jackson attended a photocall with our sponsor Sam Lansdowne, Thesis Asset Management at Castle Green with re-enactors from Historia Normannis. Following the photocall, the Mayor, accompanied by the Lord Mayor of Freiburg, Dr Dieter Salomon and civic delegation, attended a variety of sites across the borough as part of the visit programme, which coincided with Heritage Open Days.

The national organisers have informed us that Guildford featured in the top five towns and cities in the UK in terms of events organised in 2016. For details please see below:

  • Norwich (159)
  • Gloucester (126)
  • Oxford (123)
  • Leeds (105)
  • Guildford (101)

Also Guildford Borough Council featured in the top five organisations who coordinate an event:

  • Heritage Trust for Lincolnshire (176)
  • Tyne & Wear Steering Group (174)
  • Gloucester City Council (119)
  • Oxford Preservation Trust (118)
  • Guildford Borough Council (103)
  • Hull Civic Society (103)