About the event

Every September, Guildford stages one of the largest Heritage Open Days events in the country. Next year we want to go a step further. We want to turn the town into a three dimensional history book that tells the Guildford story with people in costume, historic vehicles, music in historic buildings, guided tours, events in the High Street. Our pedestrianised,  historic High Street and Norman castle provide the perfect backdrop for such an event. It is an opportunity to bang the drum for heritage, have fun and support the High Street. We would like heritage groups, drama groups, schools, drama and music colleges to get involved by coming up with ideas and taking part. It would not take many people to make a big difference. It will be a lot of fun and it could be you. So, if you are interested please email guildfordheritageforum@gmail.com

So whats the plan?

We want to create a day of historical fun. Imagine its a lovely sunny day and all the historic buildings in the High Street are open – the Undercroft, Guildhall and Guildford House, St Mary’s Church and Holy Trinity Church. Transport enthusiasts have brought a few vehicles to the High Street and there are Dennis vehicles outside the Electric Theatre by the original Dennis factory. For a small charge we provide visitors with a guide and as they explore the town they meet guides in costume who have some well rehearsed stories to tell. At the castle they meet knights carrying out re-enactments and talking about medieval life. Victorian soldiers are carrying out similar demonstrations elsewhere in the Castle Grounds. People are sitting around the bandstand listening to music and eating ice creams purchased from a period ice cream van at the entrance. They work their way to Guildford Museum where they enter via the Castle Street entrance greeted by a person in a period costume. Inside there are guides to help them but in addition they can scan a QR code with their phone and watch one minute long, light hearted videos about the collections created by local schools or community groups. It they want they can have a cup of tea served by volunteers in the museum garden. From the museum they wander back to the High stopping a St Mary’s Church.

What we need

We need:

  • Street performers
  • Old vehicles
  • Costumed interpreters and living history groups
  • Musicians and singing groups
  • People to help with admin, publicity or act as marshalls

About 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 over 100 properties is one of the largest in the country.

Further information

Guildford is lucky to have a beautiful, pedestrianised High Street that provides a great performance space with an historical backdrop. The wide space between Holy Trinity and Abbott’s Hospital can be used as a main stage with performances in  the road or  on  the church steps. Guildhall, Tunsgate and Guildford House are great places for smaller performances.

Bringing the past alive

There is always scope for new ideas such as parking historic vehicles in the High Street or having stalls. Other ideas include costumed interpreters in some of the key buildings and possibly musicians performing period music appropriate to the age of the building they are in. There could be a clavichord in Guildford House, a string ensemble in Holy Trinity Church, 1960s musical numbers in Yvonne Arnaud. There might demonstrations or  small sketches performed in the High Street, local bands or Morris Dancers.

Putting it all together

The key to putting all this on is to have groups and individuals doing their own thing but fitting into an overall plan. We are keen to receive ideas from groups and individuals providing we can fit them into an overall structure for the day. During the day performers might move to different venues to add variety for them and audiences. This is an entirely community driven event and people are needed all age groups and backgrounds. 

If you are interested, please get in touch. Email: guildfordheritageforum@gmail.com