Heritage Open Days 2021: The privately owned historic buildings in Yorkshire open once a year that you can visit in September

Some of Yorkshire's finest historic buildings that rarely open to the public will do so this month.

The Toft in Bridlington's Old Town
The Toft in Bridlington's Old Town

The Heritage Open Days 2021 festival includes events, talks and guided walks that celebrate local history. Many buildings that are in private ownership, including homes and offices, offer tours to visitors from September 10-19.

The programme is not as extensive as in previous years, as many owners of private residences have chosen not to open indoor areas to visitors due to the current Covid-19 situation.

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Here's a guide to the highlights of the Yorkshire programme.

Gayle Mill, Hawes


Beverley Minster's secret garden

The garden, on Highgate, opened to the public for the first time last year for Heritage Open Days, and the event was such a success that it returns this weekend. Volunteer guides will show visitors around the restored historic gardens, where they hope to eventually grow the fruit and vegetables eaten in medieval times and the medicinal herbs used to treat illness. Tours run from 11am-6pm on Friday and Saturday and 1-4pm on Sunday.

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Beverley Minster's secret garden open this weekend for the only time in 2020
Grade I-listed Lairgate Hall in Beverley is open for Heritage Open Days

Lairgate Hall, Beverley

This Grade I-listed Georgian gentleman's residence on Lairgate is in private occupancy, but owner Mark Butters is opening his home for guided tours on Friday September 10 from 11am-4pm. Lairgate Hall was built on the site of a medieval hospital for the Pennyman family in 1760, and has a fine music room designed by the celebrated architect John Carr.

Bishop Burton Walled Garden

Nowadays best known as an agricultural college, Bishop Burton was once a country estate. It was originally owned by the Archbishop of York and used as a deer park for hunting, before being landscaped and passing to a succession of landed families in the 18th and 19th centuries. The walled garden, which is now used for horticultural classes, was built in the 1780s, before Bishop Burton Hall was gutted by fire and abandoned in 1790. It is open from 11am-4pm on Sunday September 12 and the head gardener will be present to answer questions.

Butt Farm anti-aircraft battery

The anti-aircraft battery on Butt Farm, near Beverley, was a defensive outpost built during World War Two. It stands on private farmland owned by the White family, who only exposed the four gun emplacements in 2019 after clearing vegetation. Historic England have since funded repair work to the buildings. The site is only accessible on Heritage Open Days, and 90-minute tours, which must be pre-booked, are running on the weekends of September 11-12 and September 17-18, starting at 10am and 1pm. Book by calling farmer Oliver White on 01482 870984.

The Toft, 43 Bridlington High Street

Open in Bridlington's historic Old Town this year is The Toft, a house built in 1673 for merchant William Hudson. Only the gardens are open to the public, but visitors can glimpse the other historic High Street properties from the site. The Toft was renamed by a judge who lived there in the early 20th century. Visit from 11am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday this weekend and next weekend.

Adlingfleet medieval rectory, Church Farm, near Goole

Visitors can see the recently restored chamber of the Rectory (built in around 1250), along with the newly created medieval 'double herber' garden. It is a small but very rare surviving example of a medieval secular building in this part of Yorkshire. The rectory was converted for use as an agricultural barn in the 18th century and retains features from this period. Open on Sunday September 12 from 2-4.30pm.

Tranby Croft, Anlaby, Hull

Tranby Croft is now home to independent Hull Collegiate School - but it was once the residence of Hull shipping magnate Arthur Wilson, who had it built in 1876. In the late 1890s a scandal involving Queen Victoria's son the Prince of Wales, who was visiting Tranby Croft, took place there. The building has lavish interiors and many stories to tell. It is open to visitors on Friday September 10 and 17 at 6pm, Tuesday September 14 and Thursday September 16 at 4.45pm and places on tours must be pre-booked via the school website.

Blaydes House, Hull High Street

Several buildings in the Old Town, mostly now in commercial use, are open for tours. Blaydes House was a Georgian merchant's house built in 1740 for the Blaydes family, shipbuilders and local politicians. It is now part of the University of Hull and is home to an art collection. It is open this weekend from 10am-4pm.

Christopher Pickering's House, Coltman Street, Hull

The former home of trawler fleet owner Christopher Pickering was derelict when Simon and Catherine Kelsey bought the Victorian townhouse, which dates from 1850. After Pickering's business partner Samuel Haldane sold up, it became a children's clinic and was then converted into flats. See the restoration work the Kelseys have done on tours from 10am-2pm on September 17, 18 and 19.

Ivy House, Market Hill, Hedon

Ivy House was built in the 1780s. In 1809 newly married James Iveson moved in. James was part of a notable family of solicitors. They served Hedon for four generations, as mayors and town clerks. It was also home to two generations of the Park family who further served the town as mayor 20 times between them. After 1931 the Fewson sisters ran it as a private school for around 30 years. The gardens are home to relics from old churches in Holderness and Hull, including the tomb of Lady Albina, who was murdered by Drogo, first Lord of Holderness. Ivy House is open on Sunday September 19 from 1-4pm.

The Old Ice Cream Factory, 47 Peel Street, Hull

The Old Ice Cream Factory was once Victorian stables and by 1925 had become Alice Harmer's factory making sweets and ice creams. It has been sympathetically restored and brought back to life as artists' studio apartment and gardens. Riley's and later Northern Dairies took over the business, but it made ice cream until 1955, and afterwards was a leather tannery and later a wholesale butchery. Tours run on Sunday September 19 from 11am-4pm.


Harrogate Club, 36 Victoria Avenue

Harrogate Club is a Victorian gentleman's club which has occupied its premises since 1886. Its modern membership includes men and women from a number of professions. The furnishings date from its establishment and there is a billiard room where past members Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Titus Salt played. Guided tours for non-members run on Saturday September 11 and Sunday September 19 from 11am-3pm and must be pre-booked by contacting the club on 01423 540248.

Gayle Mill, Hawes

Gayle Mill in the Yorkshire Dales is open to the public for the first time in three years. The working sawmill is the oldest unaltered textile building in England and tells the story of the history of industry in Hawes. Today it has a number of uses and there will be tours running hourly from 10am-3pm daily from September 10-16.

Wrangham House, Stonegate, Hunmanby

A Grade II-listed Georgian house, this property, now a hotel, was the vicarage for Hunmanby and its surrounding villages. Wrangham House was occupied in the late 18th and early 19th centuries by Archdeacon Francis Wrangham, who was a notable literary figure, abolitionist and social reformer. An avid bibliophile, he built a new wing, now the hotel dining room to house his large personal library. Tours run on Saturday September 11 from 10am-1pm.

The Gazebo, Blossomgate, Ripon

Ripon Civic Society oversee the annual opening of The Gazebo, and 18th-century structure built for entertaining in the gardens of a gentleman's residence. It has been beautifully restored but its existence is not widely known. It is open from 2-4pm on Sunday September 12.

Abbot's Staith, Micklegate, Selby

This impressive medieval warehouse will be open for a guided 90-minute tour for up to 12 people on Sunday September 18 from 2-3.30pm. Book a place on the day at the Abbot's Staith Heritage Trust stall inside Selby Abbey - first come first served.

Fishergate Postern Tower, Piccadilly, York

This 16th-century watch tower on the City Walls is rarely open to the public, but volunteers will show visitors the spiral staircase, Tudor toilet and timber roof. Open on Saturday September 11 and 18 from 10am-4pm.

Aske Hall, Richmond

The ancestral seat of the Marquesses of Zetland is still in the ownership of the Dundas family, prominent Richmond landowners, today and not normally open to visitors. Tours traditionally run during Heritage Open Days month and this year will be at 10am, 11am and 12pm on September 15 and 16. Pre-book by contacting Kathryn Metcalfe on 01748 822000 - places are limited to 15 people per tour.


Hemingfield Colliery, Barnsley

Join the Friends of Hemingfield Colliery to explore the history and heritage of this scheduled Victorian colliery, once part of Earl Fitzwilliam's Elsecar collieries. Tours will run on Saturday September 18 from 10.30am-6pm and Sunday September 19 from 12.30-3.30pm.

Barnburgh Dovecote, Barnburgh Hall Gardens, Doncaster

An opportunity to view a well preserved 16th-century octagonal dovecote, built as a wedding gift from the Lord High Chancellor of England, Thomas More to his son John on his marriage to Anne Cresacre, whose family owned the Barnburgh estate. It would have housed 2,000 doves. Barnburgh Hall was demolished by the National Coal Board in 1969, but the dovecote, stable block and gardener's cottage survive and the dovecote is maintained by residents of the new development built on the hall site. It is only open on one weekend per year. Visit on Sunday September 19 from 10am-4pm.

Aizlewood's Mill, Nursery Street, Sheffield

A rare opportunity to take a tour of this Victorian flour mill, designed by William Flockton and built in 1861 in the former nursery gardens of Sheffield Castle. Saved from demolition by Sheffield Co-operative Development Group and now a successful business centre, many of the original features and artefacts will be available to see including one of only two paternosters in the city. Open on Friday September 10 and Tuesday September 14 from 10am-3pm.

Whiteley Wood Hall stables, Common Lane, Sheffield

Now privately owned and used as an outdoor activity centre by Girlguiding UK, the building was originally the stable block for Whiteley Wood Hall. The 18th-century survivor has nine acres of grounds. It was derelict by 1929 but was restored by Sheffield Girl Guides in 1935 - the hall itself was demolished in the 1960s, having been the home of the inventor of Sheffield plate, Thomas Boulsover. Guided tours run on Saturday September 11 hourly from 10.30am to 3.30pm.


Dean Clough Mills, Halifax

Once the world's largest carpet factory, Crossley's, Dean Clough has now been converted for a variety of uses. The site covers 22 acres and has 16 significant buildings. The Grade II-listed Victorian mills were constructed between 1840 and 1870 by the Crossley family who founded their carpet empire in 1822, with the buildings being built with the stone quarried from, and adopting the name of, the valley in which they sit (Dean and Clough being old English words respectively meaning valley and ravine). Tours of the site will run on Sunday September 12 at 10am and 2pm and must be pre-booked.

Cliffe House, Lane Head Road, Shepley, Huddersfield

Now an outdoor centre, Cliffe House is a Grade II-listed Victorian building with 10 acres of land built in 1889 for James Senior, son of local brewer Seth Senior. The house will be open throughout the event for people to come and look round along with the grounds. It has been a children's activity centre since the 1940s. It is open from 10am-3pm on September 18-19.

King James's School, St Helen's Gate, Huddersfield

Take a guided tour round the old parts of the school which date back to 1750 and view the original Royal Charter given to the school in 1608. The original school on the site was built in 1547. The Old School House was rebuilt in the 1750s. Victorian additions were made in 1848 and later in 1883. These are all still in use in the school. Visitors can walk round the old dormitories and look inside the rooms of the Old School House which are now used for administration. Open from 10am-2pm on Saturday September 18.

High Royds lunatic asylum memorial garden, Menston

The old graveyard, now a memorial garden and chapel, is the last resting place for 2,861 pauper patients of the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum (latterly called High Royds Psychiatric Hospital). It has been lovingly and carefully restored. The paupers' graveyard closed in 1969 and started to be restored in 2011 to create a tranquil Garden of Remembrance. The Heritage Chapel, which contains details of the people who are buried there, remembers those who have gone before and helps with the campaign to remove the stigma surrounding mental health. Open from 12-4pm on September 11 and 12.

Keighley and Worth Valley Railway workshops, Ingrow

25-minute tours of the works at the heritage railway, where historic locomotives are currently being restored, run from 10.40am onwards on September 18 and 19.