Heritage throws open its doors

Things to do, places to go this wekend
Today and tomorrow, as part of a European initiative organised by the Council of Europe, over 1,000 of England's most interesting buildings will open their doors free of charge to the public. The event is coordinated in this country by the Civic Trust, with funding from the Department of National Heritage. Many of the buildings involved - all celebrated for their cultural, historic or architectural value - would not usually be accessible in any way; of the others, nearly all usually charge people to cross their threshold. Private homes, schools, colleges, churches, factories, offices, mills, museums, breweries and dockyards will all be throwing open their doors for you to poke around in their darkest recesses. Heritage open days are fast becoming an annual event, last year attracting 250,000 prying visitors. This year's properties include Cardington Airship Hangar, Chester Fire Station, the Crown Estate Office in London, Newcastle's Tyne Theatre and Opera House, some private homes in Godalming designed by Lutyens, and a Worcestershire prison. Below we list six particular highlights.

For more information on Heritage Open Days '95 call 0891 800639 (39p per minute cheap rate, 49p other times); alternatively ask at your nearest tourist information centre; free entry to all participating properties this weekend

Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey England's largest burial ground (it used to be served by funeral trains on a private line from Waterloo until 1941), and built to contain "all London's dead for an indefinate period" in the 1850s by the London Necropolis and National Mausoleum Company. The cemetery houses 240,000 graves, and tours include the Non-Conformist section, the Anglican section and the railway.

The Bone Cave and Victorian Follies, nr Weston-super-Mare, Avon Stroll through tenebrous caves discovered in the 19th century. Besides examining prehistoric remains in the caves, you can take guided walks on routes laden with ruined summerhouses built as follies. Take a torch.

The Boathouse, Hamworthy, Dorset With an incredible view over Poole harbour, this detached private house, built in 1936, incorporates the second-class drawing room and cabins of the RMS Mauretania in a manner highly evocative of the time's cruise liners.

Historic Mill Trail, Stroud, Glos The selection of nine corn and cloth mills provides a fascinating insight into two historic types of production. See especially Ebley Mill with its chateau-style clocktower, and Dunkirk Mill, whose many alterations and additions reflect the boom-bust cycle of the woollen industry.

Scott's Grotto, Ware, Hertfordshire An amazing underground system decorated with pebbles and shells - from the mind of the 18th-century Quaker poet, John Scott.

Sir Edwin Lutyen's Houses, Godalming, Surrey Seven-mile guided coach tour of four private houses and gardens designed by Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll around the town of Godalming.

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