50 historic secret Surrey places to visit for Heritage Open Days 2015

PUBLISHED: 19:49 09 September 2015 | UPDATED: 10:07 14 September 2015

Coombe Conduit (Photo: Jonathan Bailey / English Heritage)

Coombe Conduit (Photo: Jonathan Bailey / English Heritage)


A celebration of Britain’s hidden heritage, the annual Heritage Open Days event sees some of the country’s most fascinating buildings opening their doors to visitors. Here in Surrey, highlights included the chance to visit everything from a medieval cave to Hampton Court Palace’s historic water system and one of the UK’s top schools

Royal Holloway (Photo: Commission Air)Royal Holloway (Photo: Commission Air)

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2015. Re-edited post event.


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Abbot’s Hospital

High Street, Guildford GU1 3AJ

A Jacobean almshouse still used for its original purpose, this Grade I listed building was founded by George Abbot, former Archbishop of Canterbury and a translator of the King James Bible. Today, it is home to 25 residents.


Barons’ Cave

Castle Walk, Castle Grounds, near Reigate High Street

Reigate’s oldest underground feature, Barons’ Cave is a medieval tunnel underneath the 
site of Reigate Castle. It is believed to have been a huge wine cellar used to store wine for the Earl of Surrey, one of the richest families in medieval England.


Broadwood’s Tower

Juniper Hall, Old London Road, Mickleham RH5 6DA

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the building of Broadwood’s Tower, which is found on Lodge Hill near Dorking. As part of the celebrations taking place, Amy Ward will be giving a talk about Thomas Broadwood and his connections to the Field Studies Council‘s Juniper Hall with musical interludes. Walks to the Folly are also possible.


Brookwood Cemetery

Cemetery Pales, Brookwood, Woking GU24 0BL

Opened in 1854, Brookwood Cemetery was at that time believed to be the largest cemetery in the world. Today, it is still considered to be the largest working cemetery in Western Europe and features some spectacular monuments.


Buckland Windmill

Yewdells, Dungates Lane, Buckland RH3 7BD

A small sawmill workshop built in the 1860s, Buckland Windmill is situated on property previously owned by the estate carpenter. Today, it is believed to be the only surviving wind-powered sawmill in the UK.



Charterhouse Hill, Godalming GU7 2DX

One of the country’s leading schools, Charterhouse was founded in 1611, moving from London to their current home on the outskirts of Godalming in 1872. Guided tours will include the South African cloisters, the Founder’s chapel, the Memorial chapel, the Main Hall, the library and Scholars’ Court.


Chilworth Gunpowder Mills

Blacksmith Lane, Chilworth

Built in 1626, by the East India Company, Chilworth Gunpowder Works is classed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. A downturn in the demand for explosives at the end of World War One finally led to its closure in 1920. Visitors can see the remains of the fascinating industrial buildings, as well as enjoy a barbecue.


Claremont Mansion

Claremont Fan Court School, Esher KT10 9LY

A Palladian house designed by Capability Brown for Clive of India, Claremont Mansion later became the home of George IV’s daughter, Princess Charlotte, and was also a favourite family home of the young Queen Victoria.


Coombe Conduit

Lord Chancellor Walk, Coombe Lane West, Kingston KT2 7HE

For 350 years, Coombe Conduit formed part of a system that collected water from nearby springs and channelled it to Hampton Court Palace. One of three such conduits that supplied the palace, the remaining structure represents an intriguing survival of the ingenious Tudor waterworks system.


The County Club

158 High Street, Guildford GU1 3HJ

In 1799, Joseph Pickstone acquired the property next to the White Hart Inn, currently the Sainsbury’s store, and created the building now known as the County Club. Occupying the upper floors of 156-160 High Street, the building has a timber-framed core dating from the 17th century with a late-18th century facade.


The Cranston Library

St Mary’s Church, Chart Lane, Reigate RH2 7RN

Founded in 1701, The Cranston Library is situated in a small chamber above the 
vestry in the parish church of St Mary Magdalene in Reigate. Possibly the first public lending library in England, this hidden gem contains works of literature, history, geography, science, classics and theology.


Dorking Caves

South Street, Dorking RH4 2HQ

Dorking’s extensive cellars and caves date back to at least the 17th century. The entrance to this part is via a discreet doorway at street level into galleries used, until recently, as wine cellars.


Farley Heath Roman Temple

Farley Heath Road, Guildford

Visit one of only three rural temple sites in the whole of Surrey. Members of the Roman Studies Group of Surrey Archaeological Society will be on hand to discuss how these sites were used in Roman Britain and why a temple was built on Farley Heath.


Fire and Iron Gallery

Oxshott Road, Leatherhead KT22 0EN

Leatherhead’s oldest house, Rowhurst, hosts the Fire and Iron Gallery, where a special art exhibition, Siteseeing, showcases a response to the property and nearby Teazle Wood by artists Jane Hawkins and Hilary Scudder.


Frederick W Paine

24 Old London Road, Kingston KT2 6QG

Containing a unique collection of artefacts in the only museum in the UK dedicated to the history of funeral service, Frederick W Paine is Kingston’s oldest firm of undertakers having conducted funerals from the same premises for over a century.


Gordon’s School

Bagshot Road, West End GU24 9PT

Founded by public subscription on the instruction of Queen Victoria, Gordon’s School is also the National Memorial to General Charles Gordon of Khartoum. Visitors will have access to the Recreation Hall and Chapel, as well as be able to view a recently refurbished statue of General Gordon sitting astride his camel.


The Grange

Rectory Lane, Bookham KT23 4DZ

A mid-19th century property, The Grange has a magnificent late-Victorian ballroom, a walled garden and beautiful grounds. In addition, exquisite work will also be on show from back in the days when the house was The School of Stitchery and Lace.


Guildford Castle

Castle Hill, Guildford GU1 3UQ

Believed to have been built just after the Norman conquest of 1066 and constructed from local Bargate stone, Guildford Castle has been used for royal apartments, the HQ of the sheriff and even as the county gaol.


Guildford Institute

Ward Street, Guildford GU1 4LH

Built as the Royal Arms Coffee Tavern and Temperance Hotel in 1880, this Grade II listed building has been home to the Guildford Institute since 1892, with its historic library.


The Guildhall

High Street, Guildford GU1 3AA

Dating from around 1550, the Grade I listed Guildhall was formerly a court and council chamber. Its important facade was added in 1683. Access to the building will include the balcony overlooking the High Street.


Henley Fort

The Mount, Guildford GU2 4RH

Built in 1896 as the western post of 13 fortified positions to defend London against a possible invasion by the French, Henley Fort is among the most complete of those remaining. Hidden from casual view, the fort has outstanding views across the Thames Valley.


Holmesdale Museum

14 Croydon Road, Reigate RH2 0PG

Founded in 1857 the Holmesdale Natural History Club is one of the oldest organisations of its kind in the UK. At its museum in Reigate, it holds fascinating natural history, archaeology, local history and geology collections.


Jellicoe Roof Garden

House of Fraser, High Street, Guildford GU1 3DU

Originally created in 1958 by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, one of England’s most eminent 20th century landscape architects, and recreated in 2000, the Jellicoe Roof Garden is perhaps unique in Surrey being found on top of a department store with views across the town.


Leith Hill Tower

Leith Hill Tower, Coldharbour RH5 6LU

Celebrate Leith Hill Tower’s 250th anniversary by climbing the spiral stairs to one of the best views around. On a clear day, you can see both the London skyline and the sparkle of the sea.


Lovekyn Chapel

London Road, Kingston KT2 6PY

Thought to be the only surviving free-standing chantry chapel in the country, the Lovekyn Chapel was founded in 1309 and remains the property of Kingston Grammar School. It is said to be the oldest complete building in Kingston.


Lowfield Heath Windmill

Russ Hill, Charlwood RH6 0EL

Originally built circa 1737 at Lowfield Heath, this Grade II listed post mill was in operation until the 1880s. It fell into disrepair over the next 100 years until it was dismantled in 1987 and moved to its present site in Charlwood.


Manor House School

Manor House Lane, Bookham KT23 4EN

This elegant 18th century manor house, now the home of Manor House School, is set in beautifully landscaped grounds. Nearby, 
All Saints’ church and a 15th century Grade II listed Tithe Barn, one of the largest in Surrey at 4,500 square feet, will both be open on the day too.


Medieval Undercroft

72 High Street, Guildford GU1 3HE

This 13th century undercroft is said to be one of the finest examples in the country. The elaborate, high-quality stonework and the carvings were intended for display to wealthy clients seeking luxury goods.


Merrist Wood House

Merrist Wood Campus, Worplesdon GU3 3PD

In 1875, Charles Peyto Shrubb inherited the estate of Merrist Wood and the nearby farm. Designed by the famous architect Richard Norman Shaw in 1877, it is now an agricultural college, which is well worth exploring.


Milner House

Ermyn Way, Leatherhead KT22 8TX

Built in 1891, Milner House is a Grade II building originally owned by a Daniel Pidgeon. In the 1930s, Sir Frederick Milner used the magnificent house to its full potential, receiving all sorts of guests including The Duke and Duchess of York, later to become King and Queen.


National Rifle Association Museum

Bisley GU24 0PB

This unique museum features displays of rifles, pistols and paraphernalia, as well as colonial- style pavilions dating from the late 19th century.



Cotmandene, Dorking RH4 2BL

This celebration of cricket, just outside Dorking town centre, sees vintage-style cricket with two stumps, 1770 rules and appropriate attire in a glorious setting ‘above’ the town.


Prior’s Field School

Priorsfield Road, Hurtmore GU7 2RH 
An original Arts and Crafts house designed by Charles Voysey, Prior’s Field was opened as a school in 1902 by Julia Huxley, mother of the biologist Julian and novelist Aldous.


Puttenham Eco Barn

The Street, Puttenham GU3 1AR

A 250-year-old Grade II listed barn, part converted into the only camping barn in Surrey. View the original features, as well as the environmental additions.


Reigate Fort

Wray Lane, Reigate RH2 0HX

Built in 1898, Reigate Fort was constructed as part of a 72-mile defence line to protect London during a huge shipbuilding programme initiated by the Government. 
The southern line was divided into 10 sectors and the fort fell into ‘Redhill Position’.


Royal Grammar School

High Street, Guildford GU1 3BB

A Grade I listed building from the late 16th century and remodelled in 1889, there will be two displays in the Tudor schoolroom: the school during World War One and the history of the school. Ticketed talks will take place in the Chained Library every 30 minutes from 9.30am to 12noon and 1.30pm to 3.30pm.


Royal Holloway

University of London, Egham Hill, Egham TW20 0EX

A chance for the public to visit Royal Holloway’s spectacular Grade I listed Founder’s Building, Picture Gallery, Chapel, refurbished Boilerhouse and extensive grounds. The Founder’s Building, founded by entrepreneur Thomas Holloway and opened by Queen Victoria in 1886, is modelled on the Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley.


Rydes Hill Prep School

Aldershot Road, Guildford GU2 8BP

Originally a private dwelling, Rydes Hill House was converted into a convent school in 1945. Of particular interest is the unusual, glass- domed Victorian conservatory, which has been fully restored.


Shah Jahan Mosque

Oriental Road, Woking GU22 7BA

Described by the Pevsner Architectural Guides as ‘extraordinarily dignified’, this building is the first purpose-built mosque in Britain. Completed in 1889, and designed by Victorian architect WL Chambers, its green and white dome is one of Woking’s landmarks.


Sime Art Gallery

Worpleson Memorial Hall, Perry Hill, Worplesdon GU3 3RF

Purpose-built in 1956, this gem of a gallery exhibits over 800 drawings, paintings, theatrical and local caricatures, watercolour and oil landscapes, fantasy oil paintings, books and letters in a variety of artistic styles by Victorian illustrator Sidney Herbert Sime.


St John’s School

Epsom Road, Leatherhead KT22 8SP

Founded in 1851 as an independent day and boarding school, to educate the sons of clergymen, St John’s School relocated from London to Leatherhead in 1872. The school’s Old Chapel re-opened in April 2014 after extensive renovation and restoration.


St Mary’s Church

Epsom Road, West Horsley KT24 6LQ

Rebuilt in 1030 with chalk and flint, on the same site as an 8th century wooden Saxon church, St Mary’s includes a rather unusual feature: Sir Walter Raleigh’s head is buried there, along with his three grandchildren, in the Nicholas vault.


Surrey Police Museum

Mount Browne, Sandy Lane, Guildford GU3 1HG

Trace the history of the force from its inception to the present day at Mount Browne, the Surrey Police headquarters. Displays include a reconstructed 19th century prison cell and artefacts from the force’s 150-year history.


Tadworth Court Mansion

Tadworth Street, Tadworth KT20 5RU

Built around 1700, in the English Baroque style, this country house is now home to 
The Children’s Trust. View impressive exterior stonework and striking interior features, including a two-storey hall with high panelling and Rococo plasterwork.


Thomas Hope and the Deepdene

Meet outside Council Offices, Pippbrook, Dorking RH4 1SJ

One of our most historically important country estates, The Deepdene was once home to the famed Regency arbiter of taste Thomas Hope. Largely forgotten, as a result of the demise of the house, it still holds fascinating glimpses into a lost world that is now the focus of a Heritage Lottery project.


Wanborough Great Barn

Wanborough GU3 2JR

Discover more about the role of the Great Barn, said to be one of the most important in England, in the 10,000 years of Wanborough’s past. A brand-new exhibition will include a display on the area’s Roman history.


Warren House

Warren Road, Kingston KT2 7HY

A beautiful Grade II listed Victorian property with four acres of landscaped grounds, tours include the newly-opened Veitch Heritage Garden (except Sunday), which celebrates the 150th anniversary of Warren House.


Watts Gallery

Down Lane, Compton GU3 1DQ

Explore paintings and sculptures by the Victorian artist GF Watts in the Arts and Crafts gallery; enjoy an exclusive view of the private archive spaces on a curator-led tour; stroll to Watts Chapel, a Grade I listed masterpiece designed by Mary Watts; and take a tour around Limnerslease, the artistic couple’s home designed by Sir Ernest George.


Wesley House

Bull Hill, Leatherhead KT22 7AH

Named after the great reforming preacher and founder of Methodism, John Wesley, who visited Leatherhead in 1791 and reputedly delivered his last sermon there, Wesley House is a Grade II listed Art Deco building from 1935. The ‘Council Chamber’ has been restored to its original condition.


Woking Palace

Old Woking GU22 8JG

This year, Heritage Open Days coincides with the final archaeological excavations at Woking Palace. Pre-booked guided tours will be available for a limited number of people to see the trenches and finds processing, while excavations are still in progress.



Need to know:

Heritage Open Days is an annual, national celebration of Britain’s varied history, and took place this year from Thursday September 10 to Sunday September 13. For more information, visit heritageopendays.org.uk. 


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