A chance to discover Winchester’s hidden gems

Many of the most interesting buildings around the Winchester District will be throwing open their doors on 10th to 13th September to give residents and visitors the chance to enjoy Winchester’s architecture and culture for free.

Winchester has always had a strong presence during the national Heritage Open Days campaign, and this year is no exception.  Properties participating in the Winchester District this year include:

Hockley Water Wheel - an 1803 water driven corn mill in Twyford with working wheel. The last horizontal beamed water mill left in Hampshire.

Abbey House -
the Mayor of Winchester's official residence, which is an elegant property built in 1700 on the site of a former Nunnaminster. It was refurbished in the 1980s to restore its 18th century splendour, and you can take a tour to find out more about its interesting history.

Winchester Guildhall – where you can see some of the stunning collection of Civic silver on display, normally reserved for the most formal Council functions, and follow the art trail to discover some of the most valuable paintings in the Council’s museum collections.

The Eel House - built in Alresford in the 19th century to trap mature eels close to the start of their once-in-a-lifetime three thousand mile journey, this building sits beside the Wayfarers' Way footpath in idyllic woodland.  The building is still being restored, but this is the perfect weekend to find out about one of the District’s more unusual traditions.

Shedfield Old Tower – with an exhibition area and a monitor connected to a webcam showing first floor Owl Box activity, visitors can see an owl roost amongst the elegant oak timbers. There will also be roof tours (weather permitting) to view the beautiful churchyard.

The Royal Armouries Fort Nelson on the outskirts of Fareham, where you will be able to take a tour to normally unseen areas of the Fort, and stand by for gun firings by uniformed soldiers of the Portsdown Artillery Volunteers.

Ashburton Court – the County Council offices in Sussex Street, where you can enjoy a sneak preview of the major refurbishment project which has been taking place.

Wickham Church Room – where you can enjoy
an exhibition about the Romans in the Winchester District. The exhibition has been organised by the District’s recenly formed Community History Partnership. The exhibition features Roman re-enactors, and a talk about locally found archaeological objects and what they tell us about the area.

F2 – the newly opened site of the City Council’s museums reserve collections store in Winchester, where you can take a tour with curators and see some of the fascinating objects that are normally stored away in long aisles of carefully catalogued boxes.

With a host of tours, displays and re-enactments all over the District,residents and visitors alike will be sure of a fantastic weekend out and about.  As Winchester City Council’s tourism service continues to remind people of the joys of holidaying at home during this year of ‘staycationing’, Heritage Open Days provides the perfect excuse to spend the weekend exploring for free with family and friends.

To make the most of the weekend, Norton Park Hotel is offering a special deal of £80 per room per night to include bed and breakfast and complimentary use of leisure and spa facilities. This offer is only available from 10 – 13 September, subject to availability. To book, quote “Heritage” on 0845 074 0055.

Ellen Simpson, Winchester City Council’s Tourism Marketing and Development Manager said: Winchester is very lucky to be home to some of the country’s most interesting buildings, old and new.  Many of these great places, which are usually closed to the public or charge an entry fee, will be unveiled for the weekend. So this is a wonderful opportunity for residents and visitors to uncover some hidden gems in our district.”

Please note that some of the participating venues require pre-booking, for more information and a full list of open properties, please visit www.visitwinchester.co.uk or pop-in to the tourist information centre, open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 11am to 4pm on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays to pick up a leaflet, or call 01962 840 500  e-mail tourism@winchester.gov.uk

For more information on the National Heritage Open Days scheme visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk.