Opening the doors of our landmarks on to the past
DOORS Open Day offers the public a once-a-year opportunity to get inside, and have a look around, some of Bristol's architectural, religious and historical treasures.
It's part of a broader, nationwide event, held at the same time of year but known as Heritage Days.
Always to the fore are Bristol's chapels and churches, miraculous survivors of wartime Blitzes or, in some instances, just plain neglect.
All are treasure troves, reflecting, in one way or another, Bristol's 1,000-year-long history.
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Four of the best are the city's oldest, St James' Priory, by the bus station, St John's on the Wall, at the bottom of Broad Street, John Wesley's Chapel, in Broadmead and, just off College Green, the unique Lord Mayor's Chapel.
While in Broad Street a new attraction worth visiting this year is Albion House, home to Western Tutorial College.
This elaborately decorated building, immediately next to the old local branch of the Bank of England, is partly constructed over the alleyway leading into Albion Chambers, home to the city's legal profession.
And if you are visiting St Mary Redcliffe church, or the nearby caves, then another new attraction is the recently rebuilt and refurbished St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School.
The school's new, main block has been clad in eye-catching blue panels and there is a new sports hall.
After receiving its Royal Charter in 1571 this "Free Grammar School" began life in a building outside the church's south porch before moving into the Lady Chapel.
In 1966, this boys-only school merged with Temple Colston girls' school, which had been founded in 1709, and a new school built in Somerset Square.
If you're up near Park Row then why not visit the wonderful Red Lodge, full of Tudor gems – carved oak panelling and furniture, ornate plaster work and an elaborate stone fireplace.
Behind it, and looking for all the world like an old tithe barn, is where the city's artistic community meet up for an evening of painting, entertainment, and general conviviality.
The Wigwam, as it's known, is full of interesting and unusual artifacts, including two more old fireplaces.
In Tyndall's Avenue is the University-owned Royal Fort House, famous for its outstanding plaster work and rated as the finest Georgian house in the city.
Down in St Philips, rather off the beaten track, are the original offices of Lysaght's iron foundry, St Vincent's Works.
This Victorian gem offers restored Royal Doulton tiles, a wrought iron staircase and stained glass and mosaics.
Something a little different is on offer at the thatched Blaise Castle Dairy, behind the Georgian mansion, with butter making.
Nearby, and open for the day, is Sir John Vanbrugh's magnificent Kings Weston mansion, restored to something like its former glory over the past decade.
Avonmouth remains very much part of the city's heritage and this year the privately owned Bristol Port Company, who run both the docks here, as well as at Portbury, are offering the public hour-long, guided tours.
Don't just turn up – booking in advance is essential. This venue is sure to be very popular and to find out if any places are left, please call 0906 711 2191
If you are disappointed, then why not visit what's left of the Bristol area's Roman heritage with a trip to a villa at Long Cross in Lawrence Weston.
There are mosaics and baths to see, plus archaeologists on hand to help you with all those questions about life in Roman times.
If you want to know what is happening in North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, then you will find the attractions listed on page four.
A handy sized brochure listing all the attractions – plus a lot of additional information – can be obtained for free from your local library, the Corn Exchange, the Bristol Tourist Information Centre, or the Architecture Centre on Narrow Quay.
There are special offers to be had on Bristol's ferry boats, too, with some venues serviced by a free bus service.
The Bristol Omnibus Vehicle Collection will also be providing free rides on vintage buses to other venues.
An added attraction, popular with kids, will be steam train trips running every 40 minutes from M shed to the ss Great Britain and the Bristol Record Office.
For more information, plus up-to-date news, log on to the website www.bristoldoors openday.
Wherever you decide to go this weekend, don't rush around blindly, take your time and remember – there's always next year.