Any fears that this year’s Heritage weekend would be a damp squib were put to rest as people across the town pulled out all the stops. Compared to previous years, very few properties opened but there were still more than enough and some new treats in store.
I decided to take a bike ride around the area starting in the High Street where the three main churches were open. St Mary’s looks amazing with its new porch and more spacious interior. I was told people hardly had a chance to be see after it re-opened at the start of the year before the lock down closed it again. It has a modern kitchen and much cleaner look overall but still retains its ancient character. It will be a great asset to church groups and for the wider community running events there.
Guildford Museum was also open. Like St Mary’s it has benefitted from redecoration. It looks much more appealing especially with the new VE/VJ Day exhibition.
Next, I popped into St Nicholas where a new video created this year clearly explains the artwork. “Many people overlook the church because it does not look much from the outside” said one of the volunteers. The video is narrated by Dr Catherine Fergusson, historian and parishioner and explains how the artwork is an important collection. It was created by influential artists in the Arts and Crafts world who were also local residents.
Up on Guildown I took in the spectacular view of the cathedral, also open for Heritage Weekend. Henley Fort was not open but it was a good place to look at James Dix’s video on the fort. Undeterred by the restrictions he had turn to online resources. (See below for URL). Cycling across the downs is always fun and dropping down into Compton I found Watts Gallery as busy as ever.
Finally I cycled to Wanborough Barn where there were queues to get in. A nearby field served as a car park and the barn itself was packed with people slowly making their way round the displays on a socially distanced route.
It was not the heritage weekend we are used to but it was good to see buildings opening up again.