Free access to Wealden’s heritage

Bateman's of Burwash
Bateman's of Burwash
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A range of distinctive buildings, gardens and sites of interest - many not accessible to the public - will throw open their doors for Heritage Open Days in September this year.

Every year on four days in September, buildings of every age, style and function welcome visitors for free visits.

It is a once-a-year chance to discover architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities that bring local history and culture to life. Funded by English Heritage, the Open Days scheme celebrates what makes local communities and neighbourhoods special. There are no charges for visits.

In Wealden, people can see inside The Old Palace, Mayfield; pay a free visit to Bateman’s of Burwash or meander along the River Ouse at Sheffield Park.

The Old Palace, part of St Leonard’s-Mayfield School, dates from the early 1300s. The Great Hall (now the school chapel) is one of the finest manorial halls of its kind and houses the widest medieaval stone arches in England.

The Chapel contains the tomb of Cornelia Connelly, the foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. A 14th century statue of the Madonna and Child can be found against a backdrop of the carved back of the Archbishop’s throne. Of particular note is the Italian Crucifix, the shape and design of the wood suggest Byzantine work of the 11th and 12th centuries.

Historians are on hand to talk to the public. Refreshments will be available for sale in the Courtyard, around which much of the Old Palace was built. Activity colouring sheets will be available for children in the Gresham Parlour next door to the Courtyard.

This is the room that was set up for Elizabeth I when she visited and houses the original mantelpiece of Sir Thomas Gresham. His sword, Queen Victoria’s riding crop and other relics are nearby. Current pupils will be available to give guided tours of the School.

The Old Palace opens from 2-6pm on September 15. Book via Claire Ball on: 01435 874674.

On Saturday, September 14 there will be a short walk and discussion to look at how the National Trust is working with partners to restore the River Ouse meanders. People can find out more about floodplain management, water quality, dragonflies, fish, bats, ‘riparian woodland’ and much more.

There are family friendly facilities such as children’s lunches, baby changing and family activities available. The River Restoration walk is a 20 minute stroll across parkland which is semi-rough terrain and into the flood meadow - unsuitable for buggies. To book, call 01824 790231.