Heritage Open Days returns for in-person events!

11th August 2021

Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival dedicated to heritage, opening doors to reveal the histories and treasures of fascinating buildings ranging from national monuments through to private homes.

Each year Winchester College welcomes hundreds of visitors to musical events, art exhibitions and specialist tours of the school and its collections. This year's festival will take place between 16 - 19 September and will see the return of an exciting range of unique, in-person events, as well as three new films, produced exclusively for the festival.

“Heritage Open Days enables our city to celebrate its wonderful history and to make the wider world aware of it”

Dr Tim Hands, Headmaster of Winchester College commented, “Heritage Open Days enables our city to celebrate its wonderful history and to make the wider world aware of it. With more than 90 listed buildings in our care and an archive spanning 600 years, we look forward to welcoming visitors to enjoy some very special tours, alongside three new films showcasing some of the rarest items in our collections.”

2021 Programme

  • Winchester College Gardens Tour A chance to look behind the walls and walk through the beautiful hidden gardens of Winchester College. The tour will be led by one of the school’s experienced gardeners and include a look at a traditional college ‘quad’, a quiet sitting garden for the old College sick house and stately trees which frame the campus. The tour will conclude with a unique look at the ‘Warden's Garden’, with its herbaceous borders, woodland and chalk stream.

  • Guided tour of Winchester College This tour concentrates on the medieval heart of the College including Chamber Court, Chapel, College Hall, Cloister and the 17th-century School building. A temporary exhibition in Cloister, ‘More than Just a Mountain’ will also be on show to commemorate the achievements of three former pupils who played leading roles in the British attempt to map, survey, and summit Mount Everest. One, George Leigh-Mallory, would die in pursuit of that effort.

  • Guided tour of War Cloister Within the precincts of Winchester College is the beautiful and peaceful War Cloister, a memorial to former pupils who died in both World Wars and subsequent conflicts. Listen to their stories and the story of the creation of this wonderful memorial.

  • Visit the school’s Treasury The Winchester College Treasury houses the outstanding collections of art and archaeology belonging to the school. The converted medieval Warden’s Stables contain four galleries filled with objects from around the world. New for Heritage Open Days, there will be a children’s trail on the theme of Edible England.

  • Guided tour of the Archives This hour-long tour allows a rare opportunity to view two medieval rooms which house the school’s archives. Documents and artefacts relating to the school’s history, including the Foundation Charters and Founder’s Statutes, will be on display.

  • Food at Winchester College: A guided tour with the Headmaster William of Wykeham took great care about what and how his College would eat. In this one hour tour, which includes many areas and objects not usually shown to the public, the current Headmaster of Winchester College, Dr Tim Hands, will show you some of Wykeham’s original arrangements with a glimpse of more recent developments too.

  • Guided tour of the Fellows’ Library This 45-minute tour includes part of the Warden’s Lodgings, home to the school’s historic library. There will be an exhibition of medieval manuscripts and an opportunity to see the study of John Harmar, one of the translators of the King James Bible.

  • Join us for an Open Rehearsal with the Quiristers The Quiristers are part of the original foundation of Winchester College, and have been singing here since the 14th century. Watch them rehearse in the beautiful surroundings of the College Chapel, and find out how these young men are trained to become one of the leading choirs in the country.

  • George Mallory Exhibition in Winchester College Cloister ‘Because it is there.’ Everest, 100 years on: a commemoration of three Wykehamists (Winchester College pupils) in the Himalaya Between 1921 and 1924, three Wykehamists played leading roles in the British attempt to map, survey, and summit Mount Everest. One, George Leigh-Mallory, would die in pursuit of that effort. One hundred years later, the 14th-century Cloisters and 15th-century Chantry Chapel of Winchester College will be transformed into an exhibition to the achievements of these three climbers.  

Three new films  

Winchester College is home to nationally significant collections of art, archaeology and rare books. A new series of three films, each presented by a teacher at the school, introduces some of the most fascinating artefacts.

Bartolomé de las Casas was a sixteenth-century Spanish friar who observed first-hand the atrocities committed by the conquistadores in Central and South America. In this film, Jan Hepworth (Head of Spanish at Winchester) explores an illustrated edition of Las Casas’s Destruction of the Indies, published in 1598, and discusses the author’s status as a pioneer of Human Rights and an inspiration for the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-73).   

The ‘misericords’ of Winchester College Chapel are amongst the finest woodcarvings to survive from medieval England. Nick Townson, a history teacher at the school, uncovers their hidden meanings, explaining the significance of mermaids, shepherds and pelicans.  

James Hallinan, Head of History at Winchester, explores the impact of the Mongol invasions on Chinese culture through a group of ceramics from the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties.

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