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Heritage Open Days 2023: Events in the Cotswolds

Posted: Tue, 29th Aug 2023

This September, between the 8th and 17th, the doors to some of our most-loved cultural and historical highlights are flung open to welcome visitors free of charge. Tours are arranged, cakes are baked, the grass is mown and volunteers across the Cotswolds are ready to share their knowledge as part of Heritage Open Days. Among the local churches, hidden sites you often miss and schedule of talks and walks, a number of National Trust properties are also taking part. This is your chance to discover places that are not always open to the public and to save yourself some money too.

Check the details for each location on the Heritage Open Days website before you go, to confirm the dates they are offering free entry and special events.

Prior Park Landscape Garden, Bath

These National Trust landscaped gardens were created in the 18th century and are perfectly positioned to provide views of the Bath skyline. Cross the Palladian bridge, one of only four of its kind, and spot ducks on the lakes. Bring the family and follow the brass rubbings trail while collecting images of flora and fauna on your route. You can then enjoy a picnic on the sweeping lawns or visit the Tea Shed in the Edwardian summerhouse for drinks and snacks.

Usually costing £22.50 for a family this is a great opportunity to visit for free on the 9 September 2023.

Where to stay: Stables, BatheastonOld Stables, Cold Ashton

Upton House and Gardens, Banbury

This beautifully honey-toned house was home to the Bearsted family. It became a place for Lord Bearsted to display his varied collection of loved artwork. Paintings and tapestries adorn the walls while oriental pieces sit alongside rare pieces of porcelain. Outside, Lady Bearsted focussed on making the gardens a delightful space to reflect. Designer Kitty Lloyd-Jones created gardens where nature could be fully appreciated with herbaceous borders, a mirror pool and a woodland walk. Owned by the National Trust the house and gardens are preserved as they would once have been in the 1930s.

Save £35 (usual family ticket price) by visiting on the 16 or 17 September 2023.

Where to stay: Suncroft, ShotteswellGladstone Cottage, South NewingtonWoodfields, Kineton

Croome, near Worcester

National Trust-owned Croome has had a varied and interesting history. The manor house was once home of the Coventry family, a Catholic boys’ boarding school and a principal site for the Hare Krishna movement. The estate was also a base for secret radar testing during the Second World War. Today you can visit exhibitions telling the story of Croome and view the surprisingly contemporary art exhibitions. Afterwards follow the many wonderful walking trails around the Capability Brown designed landscape. You will pass stunning buildings on your walk and be sure to keep an eye out for deer.

Entrance is usually £35 for a family, so be sure to visit this spectacular location between the 11 and 15 September 2023.

Where to Stay: Orchard Cottage, AldertonGras Lodge, Middle LittletonLittle Owl Barn, Upton Snodsbury

Dyrham Park, near Bath

Dyrham Park covers 270 acres with views reaching across to Wales. You are free to explore this National Trust site on your own or follow one of walks showcasing the places not to miss. There are also guided walks available so you can learn more about your natural discoveries along the way. Surrounding the house are picture-perfect gardens, ponds, a perry orchard and greenhouse. The Baroque house collection includes paintings, carefully crafted furniture and blue and white Dutch ceramics among stunning architecture. This is a beautiful setting which has been a filming location for popular shows including Poldark.

Save the entrance price of £42.50 for a family by visiting on the 16 September.

Where to Stay: Bull Pen, DyrhamMiddle Barn, DyrhamSwangrove House, Badminton

Blackfriars Priory, Gloucester

Usually only open for events, this is an opportunity to join a guided tour of this 13th-century medieval priory. Standing where there was once a Norman castle, it is a beautifully renovated building which retains much of its past. The stone walls show old fireplaces and higher floors and scissor-braced ceilings tower above you. Since its time as a small monastery, Blackfriars Priory has had many guises. From a private residence, school, stonemason’s workshop and printing firm through to a mineral water manufacturer. This diverse past fills its walls with stories which you can hear during the guided tour.

The tours take place on the 8 September 2023 at 11am.

Where to Stay: Granary at Hunt Court, CheltenhamLanders, CheltenhamStable Cottage at Freams Farm, Painswick

Tetbury Market Hall, Tetbury

At the heart of the historic wool town of Tetbury, the market house is an important part of its heritage. The yellow building stands on stone pillars and its main use was for the sale of wool and yarn which makes up so much of this town’s history. Regular markets still fill the hall with local produce and crafts. During the Open Days’ event you can see inside the Feofee meeting room which is normally closed to the public. The Feofees were appointed in 1633 and today act as trustees of the charities which help to improve and maintain the town of Tetbury. An exhibition will provide more information on their history.

Visit the market hall on the 9 September 2023 to view the exhibition in the meeting room.

Where to Stay: Oldham House, TetburyCharlton Cottage, TetburyHillside Cottage, Tetbury

Read more: Top things to do in Bath

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