Heritage Open Days was established in 1994 as England’s contribution to the European Heritage Days and has since grown into the country’s largest heritage festival.
The central principle was as simple as it was compelling: to throw open the doors to historic monuments and buildings, in particular those normally closed to the public. Many of Reading's heritage buildings are specially open this September. Come and visit a variety of Reading’s magnificent heritage venues! All of which are FREE to explore!
Here are a few examples of what will be open for you to visit or you can download the map guide here:
Learn more about the history of the Abbey Quarter, the former precinct of Reading Abbey and a nationally important historic site. Booking essential: 01189 373 400
Friday 9, Saturday 10 Tours: 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30, 13:00, 13:30 & 14:00
The Watership Brass Band will entertain you from the beautiful Victorian Bandstand with a host of classic tunes.
Sunday 11: 15:00 - 16:30
Built outside the Abbey Gate for the people of Reading, past congregants have included Jane Austen and Queen Elizabeth I, who attended so often that she was allotted a regular seat. This 12th century church has many ancient features.
Saturday 10: 10:00 - 15:00
Find out about the Criminal Justice System of England and Wales. Take part in a mock trial, sit as a juror and decide the defendant’s guilt or innocence. Tours of the cells and prison van (every 30 minutes)
Saturday 10: 10:00 - 14:30
Looking for your history of 1538 or 1939, from Abingdon to Redruth? A worldwide library containing nearly 6000 items including deeds, maps, parish registers and wills, websites and millions of transcribed records. Enjoy tea and cake while chatting to a genealogist to help you discover the history of your family.
Thursday 8, Saturday 10: 10:00 - 16:00 Sunday 11: 11:00 - 16:00
A Grade II listed building originally designed and built by architect Alfred Waterhouse for his wife as a Temperance House. Delve into the Rising Sun’s history through an art exhibition of work created for and about the centre, special poetry readings and a guide to the building’s intriguing past in its 25th birthday year. Cafe will be open with homemade refreshments.
Sunday 11: 11:00 - 16:00
Reputed to be the oldest railway hotel in the world, it was designed by Brunel in 1844. During WWII it was used by the Ministry of Supply and was visited by Churchill. Malmaison refurbished it in keeping with the railway theme and re-opened it as a hotel in 2007. There will be a special exhibition showing information about the history of the hotel and a selection of photographs.
Saturday 10: 12 noon - 5pm
Heritage Afternoon Tea Offer
Saturday 10: 12 noon - 5pm
Visit Malmaison Reading on the Saturday of Heritage Open Days and enjoy a buffet style afternoon tea in the Chez Mal brasserie at a SPECIAL HERITAGE OFFER PRICE OF £12 per person. Pre-booking is necessary: 0844 693 0660
An exhibition of work by 16 local artists on Reading and its rivers specially curated for Heritage Open Days. Set in the Victorian Turbine House on River Kennet. It will be complemented by books from Two Rivers Press, a trail & deals at Bel & the Dragon restaurant.
Thursday 8: 10:00 - 18:00 Friday 9: 10:00 - 18:00
Saturday 10: 10:00 - 18:00 Sunday 11: 10:00 - 18:00
Reading has some amazing cultural heritage, with connections to everyone from Jane Austen to Paddington Bear. We’ve created a brand new heritage trail to show you where to find them. Join a guided tour developed by Readipop as part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project with Reading Museum. Bookings essential: 01189 387 156
Sunday 11: 14:00 - 15:00
Do you or a family member have links with the island of Barbados? Come along to this special event and find out how you can get involved with the Barbados independence 50th anniversary celebrations. Meet the team behind the Reading Barbados Heritage project and enjoy a slice of home-made sweet bread!
Saturday 10: 11:00 - 15:00
Free talk and demonstration of the historic Father Willis Organ by members of the Berkshire Organists' Association, followed by an opportunity for members of the public to play the instrument. www.berkshireorganists.org.uk
Saturday 10: 11:00, 12:00, 13:00
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