Several thousand people enjoyed a heritage showcase where they were able to explore west Dorset's rich architectural history for free.

The organisers of the 26th annual Dorset Architectural Heritage Week are celebrating a very successful 2019 event.

And they revealed it will be held again next year, although sponsors are being sought to ensure the event's future.

Between September 13-22, visitors had the opportunity to enjoy more than 200 separate events taking place across 68 different venues in the county – and every one of them was completely free.

Buildings open in west Dorset included Beaminster Museum, a Grade II listed 19th century congregational chapel, Tudor-Jacobean Mapperton House, home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich and their family, the Bridport Literary & Scientific Institute (LSI) a Grade II * Listed Building in East Street, and the Weld Memorial Chapel in Chideock.

With requests for tickets coming not just from Dorset but also from surrounding counties demand for tickets on some of the most popular events led to long waiting lists for returned tickets.

The team at the Heritage Week Booking Office did their best to ensure that everyone had the chance to visit at least one property on their wish lists with more than 1,000 tickets issued to visitors in August alone.

The other events that did not require a pre-booked ticket were just as busy with thousands of people taking part in the Open Dor events along the traffic-free High Street in Dorchester over the first weekend.

Event Manager Ian Utley was keen to praise the efforts and the goodwill of the many volunteers who led the events, none of whom receive a penny for their hours of hard work.

He said “Thank you to all of the owners, experts, volunteers and guardians who took part this year. Heritage Week could not take place without your hard work and the number of visitors we have seen this September demonstrates that your contribution is hugely appreciated by the public.”

While the long-term future for Heritage Week still looks uncertain, as the Heritage Week Team continues to search for a new sponsor – the 2020 event has now been confirmed and will take place between September 11-20.

Further updates can be found throughout the year on the event website or by following @dorsetAHW on Twitter or heritageweekdorset on Facebook.

Anyone interested in discussing sponsorship is very welcome to call the Event Manager on 01202 888992.