Dozens of historic Bristol buildings are set to throw open their doors across the city over the next ten days.
It’s all part of Heritage Open Days, England’s largest festival of history and culture, organised by the National Trust, and which gives locals free access to museums, galleries, stately homes, and more. It runs from September 8-17.
It’s an opportunity to explore the West of England region’s most impressive buildings - including its hidden gems - right on locals’ doorstep, all without paying a penny.
Across Bristol, dozens of free events have been planned in the ten-day period, including the rare chance to meet the volunteers restoring Brunel’s Swivel Bridge.
Mayor Dan Norris said: “The festival is such a great way for locals to find out more about the West of England and its rich heritage in a super-fun and creative way.
“It’s absolutely brilliant to see some fantastic historical and cultural sites in Bristol putting on some truly fascinating events this year – and there are 56 in total in the West, which is impressive!
“What better time than now for everyone in Bristol, and right across the West of England, to get out and rediscover what makes our amazing region truly special.”
Here are 11 of the historic hidden gems you can visit in the Bristol area, and if you want the full list, click here.
1. Albert Mill, Dapps Hill, Keynsham
Albert Mill dates back to 1700. This is a unique opportunity to wander around this historic building which is now a private residence of 40 apartments. The mill room is a walk through history with many pieces of original machinery in place. There will be a display of photographs, a historical timeline, people on hand to answer questions, a quiz for children and refreshments in the beautiful gardens. Everyone is welcome. Event times: Saturday September 9 (10am-4pm) and Sunday September 10 (10am-4pm). No booking required.
2. Frenchay Unitarian Chapel, Beckspool Road, Frenchay
Frenchay Unitarian Chapel is one of the oldest purpose-built ‘dissident’ chapels in the country and still in use. Set in a beautiful garden with a 1720 four-stage tower and Halley’s comet wind-vane, the Grade II-listed chapel built in 1691 shows off a light airy feeling of peace and tranquillity with features added in Georgian times. There are several Grade II-listed tombs in the pretty gardens. Refreshments and children’s activities will be available. Event time: Saturday September 16 (1pm-5pm). No booking required. (photo: Peter Bruce)
3. Ram Hill Colliery, opposite Railway Cottages, Broad Lane, Coalpit Heath
An opportunity to tour the remains of this 19th century coal mine. Coalpit Heath had many coal pits in earlier days and this is now the last remaining site, where there is still the archaeology from the horse gin (horse-powered engine) as well as the steam engine and its chimney that replaced it. Event times: Sunday September 17 (10am-4pm). No booking required.
4. Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bath Road, Arnos Vale
Explore the beautiful architecture and amazing graves of Bristol’s past, and hear stories of the people involved on the Ceremonial Way Tour. Event time: Saturday September 9 (10.30am-12noon). Booking in advance at www.arnosvale.org.uk.