Festival Spotlights

“History is stories, all our stories”

This year England’s largest and most diverse festival of history is focusing on hidden stories and historical secrets. And here in Winchester we have quite a few. So we are delighted that this year we are going to discover more of our local stories and secrets when even more of our historic houses open their doors and share their tales.

Friends Meeting House  Friends Meeting Housethis 18th century house, once a rectory and now a Quaker Meeting House will be opening its doors on the Saturday and Sunday. Visitors will be able to roam around the house, view an art installation, discover the Quakers’ contribution to the world and play croquet on the lawn.

Gilbert White’s House in Selbourne – on the Thursday is showing items not usually on display including personal items once owned by the 18th century naturalist Gilbert White, artefacts brought back from Africa by the Victoria explorer Frank Oates and memorabilia from the tragic South Pole 1912 expedition led by Captain Scott.

Hinton Ampner near Alresford – was rebuilt by Ralph Dutton following a fire in 1960 and is now owned by the National Trust. It is also our header photograph! On the Saturday you will be able to explore for free its beautifully proportioned rooms and stunning collection of art and ceramics.

Hursley HouseHursley House in Hursley – new for 2017 this is an incredibly rare opportunity to see inside this Grade II listed mansion owned by IBM. The special tours, which need to be pre-booked, will reveal the history of the Hursley estate and its occupants, as well as a chance to see inside IBM’s private museum which traces the story of IMB and the technological innovations which have been conceived at Hursley. The gardens on the Hursley Estate will also be open for visitors to explore.

Old Hyde House – was built on part of the original 12th century Hyde Abbey Precinct and is now home to ADAM Architecture offices. Visitors on the guided tour will discover the building’s rich history as well as see remnants of the old buildings that still exist today.

Serle’s House  – another 18th century historic house in Winchester which is rarely open to the general public. On the guided tour visitors will be able to see the staircase, reception rooms and period items and paintings from both the military and Hampshire County Council collections.

The Grange at NorthingtonThe Grange at Northingtonwas originally built in 1670 but then in the 19th century its exterior was altered by William Wilkins to resemble a Greek temple. These days a perfect backdrop for its current use by English Heritage for opera events and private functions. Visitors will be able to book a guided tour of the ‘roofed ruin’.

The Vyne at Sherborne St.John – is a new entry in our programme this year and like many of the other historic homes its history spans centuries. Visitors will be able to learn about the visit of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, as well as take a closer look at the major roof project underway to save their former Tudor palace from disrepair.

But it isn’t just grand palaces which are being opened up there are also artists’ studios, archives, churches and hidden gardens. Many of which are new for 2017, including Gieves & Hawkes Archive in Winchester. Gieves and HawkesGieves & Hawkes have dressed every British sovereign since George III, and has been one of the UK’s foremost bespoke tailors since 1771. Over the HODs weekend this year, visitors will be able to see iconic historic uniforms and clothes, including a Hampshire Regiment colonel’s jacket worn by Princess Diana. For more information visit our what’s on pages.

And a huge thanks to Annie Reilly, Manager of Heritage Open Days for such a great quote, I thought the first part perfect for today’s Six Word Saturday blogging challenge!

History is stories, all our stories, and this year, more than ever before, Heritage Open Days is a celebration of that.”

Annie Reilly, Manager of Heritage Open Days, 1st June 2017

10 thoughts on ““History is stories, all our stories””

    1. Hee hee – that’s because it is irresistible! Be amazing if you could be understand it is a long way from home and that you probably already have a packed diary.
      Hope you have a lovely Saturday too – hot one I guess?


      1. Hot? You jest! I got back to the UK late Thursday. Mick spent his birthday on the beach at Santa Luzia and later we plodded very slowly to Jorge and Lidia for our evening meal. I’ve forgotten what heat is 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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