Heritage Open Days 2021: 17 exciting events in Somerset

JW02D2 Bath, Somerset, England, UK - Bath Abbey seen through the York Street Arch.

JW02D2 Bath, Somerset, England, UK - Bath Abbey seen through the York Street Arch. - Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

We've picked 17 amazing places to go during the Heritage Open Days this month, all of which are free to enter.

Every year, more institutions are added to the amazing September calendar of Heritage Open Days in England. This is the largest festival of history and culture in the country, bringing together over 2,000 local people and organisations, and thousands of volunteers. It's an opportunity to appreciate all the treasures on your doorstep and all without paying a penny. There will be an array of different open houses, talks, and tours taking place between the 10th and 19th of September.

This year, Somerset has so many amazing options that it can be hard to pick which to attend. We've put together a list of some of the best where there will be ample opportunity to explore, take a walk, or listen to a talk by a local expert.

Bath Abbey - Stone Carving

Where: Bath, BA1 1LT

When: 11th, 12pm - 4pm

Booking: No booking required

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There's fun for all the family at Bath Abbey for the Heritage Open Days. Watched skilled stonemasons at work, then have a go yourself. There is also a family trail and craft activities to help children learn more about the area. 

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Bath Jewish Burial Ground

Where: Greendown Place, BA2 5DD

When: 12th, 11am - 4pm

Booking: No booking required

More than 200 years ago, the first burial took place in this small corner of Bath, now the Friends of Bath Jewish Burial Ground have begun researching the stories of those laid to rest there. Download their new app to learn more about the lives and history of the local Jewish community through time.

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Not a cloud in the sky at Black Nore Lighthouse in Portishead. Picture: Richard Hayball

Not a cloud in the sky at Black Nore Lighthouse in Portishead. Picture: Richard Hayball - Credit: Richard Hayball

Black Nore Lighthouse

Where: Black Nore Point, BS20 8GB

When: 11th -12th and 18th - 19th, 11am - 4pm

Booking: No booking required

Black Nore Lighthouse is always worth a visit thanks to its beautiful views and refreshing coastal walks. During these times, there will be a guide on hand to talk about the history of the spot.

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Milton Road Cemetery Chapel

Where: Weston-super-Mare, BS23 2TN

When: 11th -12th and 18th - 19th, 10am - 2pm

Booking: No booking required

Heritage Open Days are a rare chance to see inside the chapel of this pretty cemetery first opened in the 1850s. A great deal of work has gone into restoring the area and the graveyard is well worth a stroll through.

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Christ Church Unitarian Chapel

Where: Bridgwater, TA6 3LZ

When: 11th, 10am - 4pm. 17th, 10am - 12pm.

Booking: No booking required

This non-conformist chapel has a fascinating history linking to literary legends Blake and Coleridge, as well as the abolitionist movement. About to begin a long restoration process, this may be the last chance to look around for the foreseeable future.

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Cowbridge Sawmill

Where: Timberscombe, TA24 7TD

When: 11th - 12th, 11am - 4:30pm

Booking: No booking required

There has been a mill on this next site for at least 700 years and a huge amount of work has gone into its recent restoration. There will be a number of tour guides on hand to lead visitors from history buffs to family groups. 

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The abbey has a gothic style with dark stone spires and green tinged roofs

Downside Abbey - Credit: Stewart Black, Flickr

Downside Abbey

Where: Stratton-on-the-Fosse, BA3 4RH

When: 15th - 16th, 10am - 16pm

Booking: No booking required

Since 1814, the impressive neo-gothic abbey has been home to a group of Benedictine Monks. You'll be able to explore the building to its full, as well as take part in a number of events. There will be a garden tour at 11am and an organ recital at 2pm each day too.

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Ellenborough Park West

Where: Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1XW

When: Available anytime

Booking: No booking required 

Weston Town Council are very excited to reopen the park, which has been closed for a number of years. They are hoping it will become a hub for wellbeing events such as community yoga and drumming circles. For now, its the perfect place for a picnic and a stroll.

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Godworthy House - World War II Cooking Challenge

Where: Chard, TA20 1QB

When: 15th, 12:30pm - 2:30pm

Booking: No booking required

Fancy getting creative in the kitchen? Attempt to recreate a WW2 recipe from the rationing era and bring it along to be sampled and also try other people's concoctions. There's more details about entering on their website.

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Halswell House and Park

Where: Goathurst, TA5 2DH

When: 11th - 12th, 2pm - 5pm

Booking: Preffered

There will be plenty going on at Halswell over the two days from a Heritage Trail to guided tours of the roof. Explore this amazing house and its history that goes back as far as the Domesday Book.

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The AGM was held at Halswell House, Goathurst

The AGM was held at Halswell House, Goathurst - Credit: Roy Bolton

The Local History Store

Where: Lansdown, BA1 9BS

When: 14th at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm

Booking: Required

The building at Lansdown Playing Fields North is home to a great number of unusual treasures from the spa collection. There will be three guided tours during the day where you can learn more about them and the people who built them.

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St Edward, King and Martyr Church

Where: Goathurst, TA5 2DE

When: 11th - 12th, 2pm - 5pm

Booking: No booking required

As part of the Goathurst Heritage Trail (which also includes Halswell House), view the monuments and tombs of the Halswell-Kemeys-Tynte families whilst learning about the history of the area. Take a guided tour or explore alone, before taking a stroll through the park.

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St Nicholas’ Priory

Where: Dulverton, TA22 9LH

When: 15th, 2pm - 4pm

Booking: Required

In a remote and beautiful valley along the River Exe, you will find the ruins of the Priory which was built in the 1100s. For Heritage Open Days, you will have the rare opportunity to explore this private area to your heart's content.

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Vicars Hall

Where: Wells Cathedral, BA5 2UH

When: 10th, 11am - 4pm. 11th, 10am - 4pm

Booking: No booking required

See inside the 14th-century home of the Vicars Choral and learn more about the community who resided there. Cathedral guides will be on hand for tours and any questions, and you'll also be able to see original archive documents dating back to the building's creation.

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Wells Cathedral (c) Scott-Cartwright / Getty Images

Wells Cathedral (c) Scott-Cartwright / Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Westonzoyland Pumping Station Museum

Where: Westonzoyland , TA7 0LS

When: 12th, 11am - 4pm

Booking: No booking required

Since 1830, the pumping station has been helping keep the Somerset Levels drained for agricultural purposes. Enjoy learning about the history of the building then relax at the Tea Room with home made cakes and a book sale. You can also take a picnic and sit outside taking in the views.

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Whirligig! Festival

Where: Weston-super-Mare, BS23 IJN

When: 11th, 11:30am - 6pm

Booking: No booking required

Head over to the Italian Gardens for a fantastic outdoor arts event with something for all the family. This bee-themed festival will show you the secrets of these incredible pollinators and the work of their keepers. 

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White Rock Cottage and Ashcombe Gardens

Where: Simonsbath, TA24 7SH

When: 11th, 10am - 4pm

Booking: No booking required

Last but by no means least, we have a stunning late-Georgian garden landscape created by the Knight family in the 1820s. You'll be able to enjoy a number of activities from a short film, to admiring the recently completed restoration programme, and an exhibition about the royal forest.

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See the full list of Heritage Open Days on their website here. Remember to check the status of the event before your visit to avoid any cancellations.