SECRET heritage sites in and around Gosport were opened to the public yesterday as the town kicked off its heritage days series.
And open for just the second time in more than 20 years was Court Barn, a Grade II-listed 17th century former farmhouse, now the Court Barn Conservative Club.
Members of the public turned up to explore the hidden gem, tucked away off a small road, in Court Barn Lane, in Lee-on-the-Solent.
Among them was David Palk, 46, of Serpentine Road in Fareham, and his dad Henry Palk, 74, of Chives House in Fareham.
Henry said: ‘I live in a house that dates from 1294 and David lived there before he married – it sparks your interest.
‘We’ve lived around here for 40 years and never knew this existed.
‘It is charming and for the uses it’s put to it must be perfect for the members, very comfortable and it’s got a nice atmosphere.
‘But from my point of view, historically, it’s over-restored.’
David added he and his father are both interested in heritage and praised the organisers of Gosport Heritage Open Days.
He said: ‘It’s a fantastic thing, and Gosport always puts a lot of effort into it.’
The historic building was first documented in 1666 but parts of it may be medieval.
Former owners of Court Barn include the fourth Earl of Southampton, a Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire and the Dukes of Portland, the Delmes and the Houses.
It was bought by the Fareham and Gosport Conservative Association in 1966 for £11,250.
But it is now owned by the Court Barn Conservative club, not the local party association.
Dennis Wren is the treasurer of the club and was giving guided tours yesterday.
He said: ‘It’s nice to show people around who have an interest in old buildings, especially if they know it exists.
‘It was originally opened over 20 years ago for the first time.’
Terry Rhodes is the chairwoman of Gosport Heritage Open Days and was at the farmhouse yesterday.
She said: ‘Buildings of all sorts of ages and types that aren’t normally open, the hidden gems, are suddenly open free of charge for the public to explore.
‘People like to explore their hometown but we tend to go further afield to visit places.
‘We have MoD sites open and all you can normally see is gates with security and you can’t go any further.’
The open days across the area run until Sunday.
For a full schedule see gosportheritage.co.uk