It’s time to start booking your Heritage Open Day tours

For a couple of weeks in September, thousands of buildings across the UK, mostly outside London, are open to the public.

The Heritage Open Days are a UK-wide version of the London Open House events, and while the vast majority are open to wander in and look around, some need booking in advance. They range from old buildings to theatres to sewage pumping stations.

Some are taking bookings now, but many will only take bookings from next month, so now is the time to plan your day trips to (mostly) outside London, and put notes in your diary for when the tickets are released.

My personal tip is to find something you really want to visit, then check their website for all the other buildings in the area that are also open. For smaller towns, that’s mainly churches, but the larger towns and cities can easily fill a day out.

The full search is here.

Below is the current list of venues that need booking in advance in the southeast of England.

Happy hunting.

Reading Museum Store Tours

Behind the scenes at our the museum’s South Reading store. They will be celebrating 200 years of Reading Biscuit Town and looking at some of the objects rediscovered during last year’s store move.

Details here

Tour of the Berkshire Record Office

You’ll find out more about the services they offer and go where visitors are not normally allowed to go – into a strongroom

Details here


The Gothic Temple

A rare chance to see inside the Gothic Temple, a splendid folly built in 1741 by architect James Gibbs. It was one of Lord Cobham’s last additions to his famous landscape at Stowe and dedicated by him ‘To the Liberties of our Ancestors.’

Details here

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Backstage Tour

Go backstage, see behind the scenes and enjoy the beautiful architecture of this landmark venue, as a guide takes you on a tour of the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Details here

Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court

Come and sit on the Bench and in the dock in an empty courtroom whilst being briefed about the work of the court and sentencing. Followed by a court observation, debrief and a Q&A session.

Details here

The Stables Theatre Building Tour

Tour and behind the scenes look at the building that is one of the UK’s most successful music venues, led by the original architect.

Details here


Mercury Theatre Tours

Your guide will take you on a journey through their spaces including the rehearsal room, wardrobe and workshop. We aim for our tours to last 45 minutes.

Details here

Warner Textile Archive Store Visit

Warner Textile Archive is the largest publicly owned collection from a luxury textile manufacturer in the UK.  There will be a guided tour focusing on innovation within the design and manufacture of textiles by Warner & Sons from the 1830s to the 1980s.

Details here

Greater London

Western Pumping Station

Go behind the closed doors of Western pumping station, one of Thames Water’s historic sites.

Details here

The Royal Philatelic Society London (Guided Tour)

A guided tour of the building including behind the scenes areas and a look at some of the treasures in our collections, including the archives of Perkins Bacon- the printers of the world’s first postage stamp- the Penny Black.

Details here

The Cinema Museum Tour

A guided tour of The Cinema Museum by the museums Co-Founder Martin Humphries

Details here

Streatham Pumping Station

Go behind the closed doors of Streatham pumping station, one of Thames Water’s historic sites.

Details here

Princelet Street

This spacious house reflects its 18th-century roots but provides a welcoming and comfortable retreat for the 21st century traveller

Details here

Prince Philip Maritime Collection Centre

The Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre is home to the Royal Museums Greenwich stored collections and state of the art conservation studios.

Details here

Oak Room, New River Head

Formerly the boardroom of the 17C water house, the Oak Room is a fine late Renaissance room demonstrating the New River Company’s wealth. 1697 carved oak interior, attributed to Grinling Gibbons, including over-mantel and panels over the doors.

Details here

British Vintage Wireless and Television Museum

Celebrate 100 years of broadcasting, by joining a tour to explore our vast collection of objects through which we learn of the contributions the consumer electronics industry has made to all aspects of Radio and Television broadcasting in the UK.

Details here

Abbey Mills Pumping Station

Go behind the closed doors of one of Thames Water’s historic pumping stations, Abbey Mills. Built between 1865 and 1868 it has been described as the cathedral of sewage.

Details here


Piccotts End: Pre-Reformation Wall paintings in a Grade I listed 16th century Hall House

This is an opportunity to visit the unique survival of early 16th century Wall paintings, not often open to the public, and recently featured on The Antiques Roadtrip. Come and learn about the religious turmoil in the area in late medieval England.

Details here


Chatham Memorial Synagogue

Visit this unique and exceptional historic Grade II* listed site; experience the finest substantial example of a late 19th Century British Synagogue in the Romanesque style with its exceptionally richly decorated interior and unique attached cemetery

Details here

Camden Place

Georgian interiors by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart and unique panelling from the Chateau de Bercy made Camden Place a home fit for the royalty. Learn about a bloody double murder and how the French court came to Chislehurst.

Details here

Bastion Tower, Pound Lane

A rare opportunity to visit one of the surviving converted bastion towers in Canterbury city wall, now the offices of an architect.

Details here


Walton Pumping Station

Go behind the closed doors of Walton Water Treatment Works to marvel at the historic Thames Water pumping station.

Details here

Littleton Pumping Station

The pumping station was built for the Metropolitan Water Board between 1923 – 1925. Littleton supplies the Queen Mary reservoir, one of the largest raw water reservoirs in the UK, using the original pumps. The reservoir and pumping station cover an area of 707 acres. Both were constructed at the same time and are fully operational to this day.

Details here

Reigate Town Hall

For one day only, come and take a look behind the scenes at the Town Hall and discover its fascinating 121-year history as home to many of the community’s public services.

Details here


Guided tours include the historic South African Cloister, Memorial Chapel, the Main Hall, the Library and Scholars’ Court.

Details here

Pippbrook House

A tour of the extraordinary mansion created by George Gilbert Scott that divides option: Gothic horror or work of beauty and craft?

Details here

Keymer Handmade Clay Roof Tiles & Wienerberger Factory Tour

Visitors will be able to look around the showroom, participate in a full factory tour, and will also get the opportunity to make your very own Keymer tile.

Details here

Dorking Brewery

Heritage Open day visitors will be treated to a tour of a working brewery. This includes a short explanation of the history of beer and brewing in England, a guided tour around the equipment used at the brewery, and an opportunity to sample some of the beer.

Details here

Slyfield House

Slyfield House is a Grade I listed Jacobean house with a rich history. Discover the history of Slyfield House and take a private guided tour by the owners of this fine Jacobean house with several original features.

Details here

Semaphore Tower

Semaphore Tower is a unique remnant from the Napoleonic era, the Grade II* listed brick structure is the only surviving semaphore tower in Britain.

Details here

West Sussex

Steyning Rifle Range

A rare chance to visit the Steyning Rifle Range and see how it was used for target practice by the Sussex Rifle Volunteers from 1860 onwards. It is now part of the community-based Steyning Downland Scheme which is working to conserve the site.

Details here

The full search is here.

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