Winchester Heritage Open Days: Free to Explore; Extraordinary Women; 13–16 Sept

Every September in Winchester, local volunteers organise more than 100 events to celebrate the history, architecture and culture of England’s ancient capital. Heritage Open Days are an amazing opportunity to explore new places and try new experiences, from walks, workshops and pop-up performances to exhibitions, living history and family-friendly activities. Better yet, they’re fun and free!  Get started with these suggestions.

Guided Tours of Winchester College

As lead sponsor of Heritage Open Days, Winchester College extends a warm welcome to visitors by hosting many wonderful events this year, including guided tours. Discover what is believed to be the oldest continuously running school in the country. Different tours offer something for everyone.

The hour-long guided tour concentrates on the medieval heart of the College, including Chamber Court, Chapel, College Hall, Cloisters and the 17th-century School building.

For book lovers, the 45-minute tour of the Fellows’ Library offers an exhibition of medieval manuscripts and an opportunity to see the study of John Harmar, one of the translators of the King James Bible.

When: All events at Winchester College must be pre-booked.

Guided Tour: Thursday 13 & Friday 14, 10:15, 11:30, 14:15, 15:30
Saturday 15 & Sunday 16, 14:15, 15:30
Visit the website for details.

Fellows’ Library: Friday 14, 13:00, 14:00
Saturday 15, 11:45, 12:45
Visit the website for details.

Where: Winchester College, College Street, SO23 9NA

Mary Sumner: Founder of the Mother’s Union
Presented by Dr Sue Anderson-Faithful

Follow the footsteps of Mary Sumner, founder of the Mother’s Union, a contemporary Anglican organisation with a worldwide membership of four million. This talk will explore Sumner’s life and how her ideas on motherhood, marriage and the education of her children were shaped by geographical locations and her network of influential kin and friends.

When: Saturday 15, 18:30 ­– 19:30

Where: Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry Street, SO23 8SB

The Suffragettes From Hard Sell to Hard Cell

Presented by Professor Emma Rees

Join Emma Rees as she discusses the impact of winning the vote for women. In this talk, Emma will reveal parallels between the suffragettes’ struggle and the political world today.

When: Saturday 15, 15:00 – 16:00

Where: Hampshire Record Office, Sussex Street, SO23 8TH

Explore the Cathedral Close

Don’t miss this opportunity to access special areas of Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, including spaces not normally open to the public. Access to some areas will be weather permitting.

When: Saturday 15, 11:00 – 15:00
Show up any time at the main entrance. Allow up to one hour.

Where: Winchester Cathedral, The Close, SO23 9LS

Medieval Knights at the Westgate

The clank of armour and the clash of blades will ring out in demonstrations of medieval combat outside the Westgate Museum. There will also be show and tell activities upstairs in the chamber.

When: Saturday 15, 11:00 – 16:00

Where: Westgate Museum, High Street, SO23 9AP

Waynflete SingersConducted by George Castle

Hear this glorious choir present choral favourites in the surroundings of Winchester’s historic Great Hall.

When: Saturday 15, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00
Allow 30 minutes for each pop-up performance.

Where: Great Hall, Castle Avenue, SO23 8UJ

Anglo Saxon Winchester

Step back into history with Regia Anglorum to learn about the clothing, crafts and people of Winchester from more than 1,000 years ago.

When: Saturday 15, 11:00 – 16:00

Where: The Inner Close, Winchester Cathedral, SO23 9LS

Open Day at Theatre Royal

Theatre Royal Winchester, the country's only surviving cine-variety theatre, is hosting a free Open Day for all the family. There will be live music from local talent, talks, displays, arts and crafts, face-painting and much more.

When: Saturday 15, 11:00 – 16:00 

Where: Theatre Royal Winchester, Jewry Street, SO23 8SB

A History of the World in 21 Women
Presented by Dame Jenni Murray
Sponsored by Winchester College

For this special event, the Very Rev’d Catherine Ogle, the first female Dean of Winchester, will interview Dame Jenni Murray. The BBC Woman’s Hour presenter, journalist and broadcaster will discuss her new book, which looks at the achievements of 21 women who have made a profound impact on our world.

When: Sunday 16, 14:00 – 15:00

Where: New Hall, Winchester College, College Walk, S023 9NG

Extraordinary Women Exhibition
Sponsored by Winchester City Council

Celebrate the many inspirational women of Hampshire, past and present. During this festival exhibition, you can read the inspiring stories of influential female figures. The exhibition also features winning competition entries from Winchester’s local primary schools.

When: Daily from 10:00 – 16:00

Where: Great Hall, Castle Avenue, SO23 8UJ

Stay for the Weekend

Mercure Winchester Wessex Hotel is set mere steps from the glorious Winchester Cathedral – perfect for making the most of Heritage Open Days weekend. The hotel is open 24/7 and provides connecting rooms for families with young children.

Visit for more events and to book online. If you do not have internet access, you can book your tickets in person at the Winchester Tourist Information Centre. 

About Discover Winchester

A city steeped in history, Winchester is England's ancient capital and former seat of King Alfred the Great.

Today Winchester combines the best of city life with the freshness of the surrounding countryside. One hour from London, this is England as it used to be.

With world class attractions and architecture including a magnificent Cathedral, award-winning pubs and restaurants and a tempting array of independent shops. This culturally rich medieval city is surrounded by idyllic Hampshire villages and the fabulous rolling countryside of the South Downs National Park.

Discover Winchester
Tourist Information Centre
Winchester Guildhall
High Street
SO23 9GH