Gardens Illustrated
Heritage Open Day
© Heritage Open Days_Chris Lacey

Visit a garden for free during Heritage Open Days

Published: September 5, 2022 at 11:53 am
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Many gardens across England are welcoming visitors free of charge during Heritage Open Days, running from 9 to 18 September

England’s largest festival of history and culture, Heritage Open Days (HODs), is back this September, offering free access to heritage events and activities across England.


Thousands of heritage sites, historic houses and gardens are welcoming visitors free of charge during the festival, which aims to bring people together to celebrate their heritage, community and history. Many of the venues aren't usually open to the public so this is a rare opportunity to explore some unique hidden gems, including a secret garden in Beverley Minster and a listed Bath House in Cheshire.

The theme of this year's festival is 'Astounding Inventions', for which organisers will be celebrating England's history of invention and innovation. One of the hosts embracing this theme is the British Lawnmower Museum in Southport, which will be putting on free tours and talks exploring Edwin Budding's invention that created the great British lawn.

Gothic Temple at Stowe
© Heritage Open Days_Chris Lacey

HODs is taking place from 9 to 18 September. Using the search tool on their website you can find a venue that's taking part near you.

Here's our pick of the best gardens that are taking part in Heritage Open Days this year.

Top 5 HODs gardens to visit for free

The Firs, Elgar's Birthplace, Worcestershire

Visit The Firs to discover the humble cottage where Edward Elgar was born and explore the beautiful cottage garden filled with seasonal colour. There's also a sound garden with outdoor instruments to make your own music, and you can hear talks by author and Elgar specialist Richard Westwood-Brookes.
Open days: 9, 10, 11, 12 September - click here to find out more.
The Firs, Crown East Lane, Lower Broadheath, Worcester, Worcestershire, WR2 6RH

Gatton Park, Surrey

Explore the beautiful "Capability" Brown-designed landscape, the Edwardian gardens including the Japanese Garden, and the newly restored Pulhamite Pond in the rock garden. Tours must be pre-booked.
Open days: 10 September - click here to find out more.
The Royal Alexandra & Albert School, Foundation Office, Gatton Park, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 0TW

Beverley Minster Secret Garden, East Riding of Yorkshire

Beverley Minster's quiet garden off Highgate is usually open to visitors but the secret garden never is – even its location is shrouded in mystery. The secret sanctuary garden is a haven for wildlife and visitors are welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. There won't be guided tours this year but volunteers will be on hand to answer questions about the plants and trees.
Open days: 9, 11, 12 September - click here to find out more.
24 Minster Moorgate, Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, HU17 8HR

Congleton Bath House & Physic Garden, Cheshire

The listed buildings at Congleton include a late-Georgian neoclassical garden shelter and a Bath House – a rare survivor of the 18th and 19th-century passion for cold-water bathing. The Physic Garden contains numerous herbs and shrubs familiar to medieval medical practitioners, plus many others bringing medicinal herbalism right up to date. The Herb Society's Barbara Wilkinson will lead garden tours and there will be plants and other items for sale.
Open days: 17 September - click here to find out more.
Congleton Bath House & Physic Garden, Colehill Bank, Congleton , Cheshire, CW12 3AD


British Lawnmower Museum, Southport, Merseyside

It may not be a garden but this museum is hosting special tours and talks focusing on this most British of gardening obsessions – the lawnmower! You can see a replica of Edwin Budding's invention at the museum, along with the hundreds of different machines that followed. Pre-booking for the tours and talks is required.
Open days: 9 & 16 September - click here to find out more.
106-112 Shakespeare Street, Southport, Merseyside, PR8 5AJ


Abigail is a freelance writer and editor based in Hereford.


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