Celebrate Hampshire’s historic venues with Heritage Open Days

For Heritage Open Days, between Friday 8 and Sunday 17 September, Hampshire residents and visitors can enjoy many of the county’s venues in fun and interactive ways for free as several County Council sites open their doors with special activities, including:

Sep 6 2023

The Great Hall, Winchester – 16 September
Explore the medieval Great Hall, view MG Owners Club static car display, Hampshire Regency Dancers, and a performance by Winchester Poetry Festival. The recreated medieval Queen Eleanor's Garden will also be open for all to enjoy. 

Hampshire Archives – 16 September
Visit Hampshire Record Office for storytelling, art in the archives, live music, and an insight into the work of Hampshire Archives. A pop-up cinema tent will be screening archive footage of Winchester, and local band Madding Crowd will perform live ‘music from the manuscripts’.

Royal Victoria County Park – 13 and 14 September
In the Royal Victoria Chapel, explore objects from the World War One collection with the help of our volunteer guides. Learn about the role the Hospital played in the war and uncover fascinating stories of the hospital’s patients and staff. Screenings of archive footage from Tuesday to Sunday.

Staunton Country Park – 17 September
Celebrating the long history of Staunton Country Park and the families that lived there, exhibitions will be held around the coach house, along with activities for children, guided walks, and much more. 

Lepe County Park – “Creativity Unwrapped” festival:
8 to 17 September: Creativity By the Sea, a family trail back through time full of fascinating facts about Lepe’s history, with creative activities.
8 to 9 September: learn about Lepe’s fascinating and vital role in the D-day campaign with exhibitions, films and talks.
14 September: resident artist hosts two art sessions inspired by historical images of Lepe through the ages.
17 September: Junkyard Challenge in the classroom to discover creative master builders using only recycled materials.

Hampshire County Council Chairman, Councillor Patricia Stallard, said: “I chose ‘Heritage’ as the theme for my tenure as Chairman, and have recently had the privilege of a behind the scenes tour at Hampshire Record Office to see the ongoing skilled work, the specialist spaces like strongrooms and the digitising suite, some of the fascinating treasures held, and to learn more about how we work with partners to conserve our heritage.

“As we approach this year’s Heritage Open Days, I’d like to encourage residents to make the most of our county’s historic venues and archives opening their doors for free. There is much to be discovered, which will not only inspire the continued conservation of our past but also give rise to thoughts of what we leave as our heritage. Great care is taken with County Council plans and decisions we make to ensure Hampshire is a great place to live, work, and play – as well as setting the parameters and quality for what will be our heritage for the generations who follow.”

Protecting Hampshire’s heritage
The preservation of some of Hampshire’s culturally and historically significant buildings is undertaken by the County Council preserving landmarks such as:

The Chapel at Royal Victoria Country Park
The 19th century Chapel, a site of local, national, and international significance, is the only surviving part of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital – the largest in the world at the time, it become a centre for army medical research and training and treated more than 100,000 casualties from conflicts. Visitors can explore the Hospital’s rich history and enjoy panoramic views from the tower. The Chapel can also be hired as a stunning venue for special occasions, filming, conferences, performances

The Great Hall, Winchester
Winchester Castle dates from the reign of William the Conqueror. Oliver Cromwell ordered the demolition of the Castle, but the Great Hall was kept as a venue for assemblies and the County Assizes. Restored in the 1870s, it  was used last as a court between 1938 and 1974. A Grade I listed Scheduled Monument, it is managed by the County Council as a visitor attraction and a unique event venue to hire.

The Regency estate of Staunton Country Park
Registered as Grade II on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, Staunton Country Park’s regency landscape and follies were laid out in the 1820s by Sir George Staunton to accommodate his Chinese and botanical interests. Over the last 200 years several different families left their mark on the landscape, before it came under the management of the County Council, creating the country park it is today. 

Hampshire Record Office
Hampshire Record Office, a Grade II listed building, is the home of 1,000 years of history and comprises Hampshire Archives and Local Studies and Wessex Film and Sound Archive. The award-winning building, designed by the County Council, was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993. The archive collections are carefully housed in the purpose-built accommodation, including eight miles of shelving.

About Heritage Open Days
Established in 1994, Heritage Open Days celebrate England’s rich and diverse cultural heritage by working with organisations to open their doors to historic monuments and buildings creating a national local festival offering a chance for communities nationwide to come together to learn, explore and have fun by sharing the treasures on their doorstep. Locally, thousands of organisations and volunteers programme, fund and manage a fantastic array of site openings and events, jointly attracting millions of visitors, making Heritage Open Days England’s biggest voluntary cultural event.

Details on other Heritage Open Days happening across Hampshire between Friday 8 and Sunday 17 September can be found at www.heritageopendays.org.uk