As part of Heritage Open Days (September 10–13), the National Trust will be opening more than 200 of its properties for free on Saturday, September 12 and Sunday, September 13—the perfect credit-crunch-busting way to enjoy our nation’s great houses and gardens.
Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there will be opportunities to find out more about the National Trust, take behind-the-scenes tours, pick up inspiring tips from expert housekeepers and even get the chance to meet some of the characters who lived in these properties.
Here’s a selection of the events on offer:
Acorn Bank Garden & Watermill, Cumbria
Free admission to the garden and watermill, and guided tours of the herb garden and of Acorn Bank House. The house is in need of considerable restoration and not normally open to the public.
For more information, please call 017683 61893
Clive Boursnell/NTPLThe Argory, Co. Armagh
Discover more about the life and times of Walter McGeough, the builder of The Argory. Be one of the first to sneak a peak at the face of McGeough as a miniature portrait of the builder is unveiled for the first time.
For more information, please call 028-8778 4753
Arlington Court & The National Trust’s Carriage Collection, Devon
Meet a cast of characters from 1883 who lived and worked on the Arlington Estate. From gamekeeper to coachman, they all have an interesting tale to tell. The Arlington characters will take tours at 11am, 12noon and 2pm.
For more information, please call 01271 850296
Matthew Antrobus/NTPLBateman’s, East Sussex
Enjoy free entry to the house and garden. A team from Bonhams of Sevenoaks will be hosting an antiques valuation session, specialising in furniture, ceramics, jewellery, silver and collectable items. Bring your treasured possessions along for a free evaluation between 12pm and 4pm. The Jungle Book Trail will also be running for children (£2 per trail), with a prize at the end.
For more information, please call 01435 882302
Canons Ashby House, Northamptonshire
Canons Ashby will be opening its doors for the day, free of charge. Members of the housekeeping staff will be demonstrating how to look after the objects in your care.
For more information, please call 01327 861900
Built on a rocky crag high above the Debdon Burn, Cragside was the extraordinary home of Lord Armstrong, Victorian inventor and landscape genius. This was first house in the world to be lit by electricity in 1880. Discover the hydraulic passenger lift and Turkish bath suite.
For more information, please call 01669 620333
Croft Castle & Parkland, Herefordshire
A late-17th-century house with fine Georgian interiors and a family connection dating back more than 1,000 years. Enjoy a rare glimpse of the cellars and attics at Croft with a guided tour.
For more information, please call 01568 780246
Derek Wilbraham/NTPLGibside, Tyne and Wear
Take a behind-the-scenes look at how National Trust staff and volunteers care for Gibside Chapel today. Costumed guides will be at the chapel and stable block.
For more information, please call 01207 541820
Nick Meers/NTPLHoughton Mill, Cambridgeshire
Come and meet some of the people who would have worked at Houghton Mill in Victorian times. The mill will also be working, from 1pm until 4.30pm, using water power to produce stone-ground flour
For more information please call 01480 301494
Set in 900 acres, Lanhydrock is one of the most fascinating and complete late-19th-century houses in England. The ultimate Upstairs, Downstairs experience.
For more information, please call 01208 265950
Jerry Harpur/NTPLMount Stewart, Co. Down
Visit fascinating rooms alive with the spirit of Edith, Lady Londonderry, the vivacious and brilliant wife of the 7th Marquess, and meet members of the housekeeping team who will be showing just how they care for the treasures in Mount Stewart’s collection.
For more information, please call 028-4278 8387
Chris Hill/NTPetworth House & Park, West Sussex
A wonderful opportunity to view the attics at Petworth House and glimpse what life would have been like for servants. Visitors can also join a tour to the Petworth Cottage Museum, which was once home to seamstress Mrs Cummings, who worked at Petworth House.
For more information please call 01798 342207
John Miller/CNTPLPowis Castle & Garden, Powys
11am-5.30pm; last admission into the castle at 4.15pm
Unearth the stories of Powis’ past. House staff will be doing cleaning demonstrations throughout the afternoon and be on hand to answer visitors’ questions with practical cleaning tips everyone can use at home.
For more information, please call 01938 551929
Stephen Robson/NTPLSizergh Castle & Garden, Cumbria
In addition to the usual showrooms, enjoy a rare glimpse of Sizergh’s private chapel and discover the magnificent Anthony and Cleopatra tapestries in the library. Garden, shop and cafe open at 11am. House open from 1pm (last admission 4.30pm).
For more information, please call 015395 60951
Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire
Find out about the history of Snowshill Manor and Garden and how the Trust is working to preserve it for the future. Explore the site with the free Heritage Trail, using archive photographs. Meet the team cataloguing all 22,000+ objects housed in the manor and see if you can identify mystery objects. Children can follow the Treasure Trail around the manor. There’ll also be a chance to find out all about the cleaning and conservation work.
For more information, please call 01386 852410
Andrew Butler/NTPLSeptember 13
Cornish Mines & Engines, Cornwall
The day includes access to parts of the site not normally available to visitors, guided tours, family history society assistance and activities for children, such as the archaeologist’s dig and creative modelling.
For more information, please call 01209 315027
Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire
1pm–5pm; last entry 4:30pm
The hall will offer a unique opportunity to visit the Victorian kitchen in the basement and use the servant’s staircase.
For more information, please call 01282 771004
Peckover House & Garden, Cambridgeshire
12pm–5pm; last entry 4pm
Visit this fine Georgian townhouse with its original Rococo plaster work and magnificent two acre garden. The Fenland Family History Society will also be on hand in our Reed Barn Tea Room to offer advice and help on researching your family tree.
For more information, please call 01945 583463
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