Heritage Open Days

The Kingston Society co-ordinates the borough's participation in the national Heritage Open Days scheme, when free entry is offered to more than 20 interesting buildings that are normally closed to the public. The Kingston Society has been organising this scheme for five years, and produces an illustrated leaflet on the properties which has earned respect as an index of Kingston's heritage of historic buildings.

Heritage Open Days 2017

The Kingston Heritage Open Days 2016 will be on Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 September.

Details of all of the venues and their opening times will be on the Kingston Heritage Open Days website at www.kingstonhod.wordpress.com.

Information on the Heritage Open Days is also available on our Facebook page.

Heritage Open Days 2016

Summary to follow.

Heritage Open Days 2015

Summary to follow.

Heritage Open Days 2014

This year we have more venues, events and variety than ever before and we are hoping that large numbers of visitors will once again enjoy these opportunities. There are a diverse range of activities and events over the four days, there is an Inter Faith Walk on Sunday 14th, visiting 5 different types of places of worship, and the Trycyclingathon on the same day. New venues include the Canbury Photographic Studio which was a winner of a Townscape award last year and the brand new Kingston Quaker Centre; we are delighted to have a return of some previous entries such as County Hall and Kingston Working Men's Club.

There are a number of exhibitions such as Kingston Aviation in the BalletBoyz Dance studio, Warren House Tales at Warren House, and town centre redevelopment proposals at the Old Post Office as well as the Ancient Market Place Exhibition. There are also activities for children in some venues such as the Dorich House Museum.

There are plenty of old favourites such as All Saints Parish Church, Coombe and Ivy Conduit Houses, Frederick Paine Undertakers, Cleaves Almshouses and many others.

The Guide this year includes a map to aid planning the visits and up to date information is available on the website www.kingstonhod.wordpress.com. Information is also available on our Facebook page. Guides can be downloaded from the HODs website.

The Guide has details of all the venues and their opening times; please note that a few venues require prior booking.

Heritage Open Days 2013

New team

There were new challenges this year with head office wanting on-line registration to reduce the workload at their end and a new team of organisers from the Society (Jennifer , how ever did you do this on your own?) . The new team had to learn ropes whilst getting to know each other at the same time; the guidance from Jennifer was invaluable and the national organisers were also very encouraging and provided good resources. There has been a steep learning curve and we are hoping to keep some momentum going throughout the year using social media.

As well as the Borough-funded printed Guide, we used more ways to promote the participating properties and places this year, including social media and a new website. There was a range of venues from across cultures and the centuries. We have built on all the hard work that has been done by past organisers and have tried to broaden the range of venues as well as trying the new ways of reaching the public. This year we have included an arts centre, a dance studio and a study centre as well as places of worship, schools, heritage walks, an undertakers and a crematorium.

How it went

We had over 1500 visitors over the four days (we are still waiting for the final numbers). There was a slow start on Thursday with only a few venues open, on Friday it got busier although the weather did dampen enthusiasm in some places as evidenced by the reduced numbers of visitors at Tiffin School in the afternoon compared with the morning.

The busiest venue was the joint Ballet Boyz and Kingston Aviation exhibition where almost 250 visitors enjoyed their hospitality over Friday and Saturday; other venues that reported being busy with over a hundred visitors each were Frederick Paine undertakers and Cleaves Almshouses, some 80 extra visitors above normal number went into All Saints Church and good numbers attended their talks; 90 intrepid walkers joined the Seething Wells and Defeat of King Cholera tours. About 80 visitors enjoyed seeing the unusual Roman Catholic Church of St Raphael and 106 saw the wonderful exhibition of the history and the architecture of the Church of St John the Baptist in Old Malden. Over 400 visitors were interested in the old bridge remains and Undercroft in the basement of John Lewis.

The tours on the programme were well attended, most of them fully booked. The Kingston and Surbiton Tour Guides reported very good turnouts and the history tour of Old Malden was well attended. The visitors to the lovely Art Deco Guildhall were delighted to have the opportunity to meet the Mayor and Deputy Mayor and see the Borough regalia and many photographs were taken.

It seems that the new venues attracted lots of interest , the London International Study Centre were delighted to welcome ex pupils including those who had attended way back in 1933 and 1941; there was also someone who worked there when it was a police station. One of the ex pupils, to their delight, provided the centre with a memoir ; they are keen to participate again next year.

We will be doing a full evaluation, capturing the experience of the venues, and those of the visitors happy to complete feedback surveys. This will help to assess the relative effectiveness of the different forms of publicity, and where any additional support or guidance might need to be provided to venues in future. Anecdotal evidence suggests that visitors obtained their information from a variety of sources including the printed guide, the national website, the Kingston Society website, Facebook and our own website.


The website had 4,206 views, the highest at 500 on Saturday. Where people came through from other websites, the Kingston Society site was by far the highest referrer - 400 views, with Kingston 1st sending over 100.

The most popular venue visited on-line was the Seething Wells Tour, with the Properties and Places page the most popular overall after the Home page. We had 50 regular followers on Facebook, with news reaching between 500 and 600 people at the peak period over the HOD weekend.

To date we've had coverage in 6 separate publications (2 in The Good Life, 2 in the Surrey Comet, 1 in the Kingston Museum newsletter, and 1 in Kingston Guardian).

Articles have also been carried in on-line versions of the print newspapers.


We did not spend all the print money that we got from Kingston Council, and ran the website completely free. We could not have done it without the tremendous help and support of all the venues participating and we would like to thank them for all they did to make it such a success. We must also thank everyone who came and visited.