Heritage Open Days 16th 18th September 2021

Heritage Open Days 16th - 18th 2021

Heritage Open Days

Heritage Open Days is a national event held every September. With 2500 participants it is the country’s largest history festival and started in 1994. Properties from historic buildings to modern offices are opened to the public free of charge. Over the years it has developed into a festival of history with living history groups, talks and tours. Guildford’s event, regularly features is one of the largest in the country.

 Guildford – 16th to 18th Sept 2021


Heritage Open Days took place on 16th to 19th September. On the Saturday the event provided in Guildford town centre provided a splash of colour e on a perfect autumn day. Outside Holy Trinity Church a display of Dennis vehicles celebrated Guildford’s connection with this famous manufacturer of commercial vehicles which was born in the town in 1895. A timeline of vehicles told the story of company’s rise to fame. The Dennis brothers opened a cycle shop in the High Street in 1895. The earliest vehicle on display was represented their first motorised vehicle – a 1901 tricycle. It was whilst testing a similar machine in 1899 whilst testing an similar machine that John Dennis was seen by a policeman fined for “furious driving” at 16mph up the High Street.  However he had the last laugh and produced advert saying that Dennis machines could climb Guildford High Street “at 16mph on the sworn testimony of a constable”. There were two early motor cars built in the town, 1933 works lorry and a bus and fire engine from the same period all built at Woodbridge Hill.

Across the town volunteers from the Guildford Society, Friends of the Museum and Town Guides helped open up the castle, undercroft, County Club. The Grammar School gave tours of the chained library and there were plenty of people climbing the castle keep.

In addition to the vehicles re-enactors came to the town from as far away as Docklands and Plymouth. Victorian strollers could be found across the town and members of the the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment Re-enactment Society wore dark green uniforms of hte volunteer reserve force to which many Guildfordians belonged. At the Castle, knights from Historia Normannis also provided demonstrations of medieval life and combat. The whole day was rounded off  with a spectacular river pageant organised by the National Trust at Dapdune Wharf.

We will post details of next year’s event as soon as we start planning.        

Video of 2021 event on YouTube. As above

Click here to view Town Centre Map of Events for 2021