Historic buildings gear up for open days

Written by Peter Davison on .

St Marys ChurchSt Marys ChurchHistoric buildings in the Marlborough area are gearing up for national Heritage Open Days on Saturday and Sunday, September 10 and 11.

The initiative gives the public access to buildings not normally open to the public, with guided tours and special events.

St Mary’s Church will be throwing open the doors – and steps – to its bell tower on Saturday, September 10. The tour - which is limited to 10 people a session – will give visitors the chance to see the bell room and see the bells being rung.

Opening times are 10am until noon and 2pm until 4pm. No booking is required.

A slice of birthday cake is promised to visitors to The Merchants House, as the trust which runs it is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

The house itself was built in 1653 by silk merchant Thomas Bayly. Its interior is brilliant with wall paintings, panelling and a commanding oak staircase plus an impressive collection of artefacts appropriate to the period.

A substantial amount of the building's fabric survives and previously hidden painted decoration is still being revealed. Outside, there is a beautiful reconstruction of a 17th-century town house garden.

Opening times are 11am until 4pm on Sunday, September 11. No booking is required.

Crofton Beam Engines will be in steam from 10.30am until 4.30pm on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday September 8 to 11. No booking is required.

Crofton Pumping Station was built in 1807 to supply water to the highest point of the Kennet & Avon canal. Grade I listed it contains an original Boulton & Watt beam engine dating from 1812, and a Harvey of Hayle Cornish beam engine built in 1846 and rebuilt in 1905.

And guided tours of Wilton Windmill will take place from 2pm until 5pm on Sunday, September 11. It will be a rare chance to see the windmill without its sails, which have been removed for restoration for the first time in 40 years.

Wilton Windmill is the only working windmill in Wessex and still produces wholemeal, stone-ground flour.

* For those who can’t wait Wilton Windmill tours take place on August 28 and 29, September 4, and September 18 from 2pm until 5pm, while Crofton Beam Engines will be in steam from Saturday to Monday August 27 to 29.