Some of Wiltshire's finest and most fascinating buildings will be opening to the public for this year's Heritage Open Days.

The national event celebrates the grand, glorious and intriguing buildings in our own towns.

Sponsored by the civic trust, it offers everyone a rare chance to see buildings of interest and historic significance. Many of these architectural gems are not normally open to the public.

Chippenham Civic Soceity has set up one such opportunity in the town on September 9 - an open day at St Peter's Church in Lords Mead.

Tucked away in a quiet residential area, the church is reckoned to be one of the finest modern church buildings in the UK.

It is also an active and flourishing parish church.

It is notable for its impressive interior, most of which is the work of eminent church artist and sculptor Frank Roper (1918 - 2000).

The original St Peter's church was built in Lowden in 1886 and formed part of St Andrew's parish.

As the population of the town increased the focus of the church moved westwards and, in 1965, work began on the present site.

The Bishop of Bristol laid the foundation stone on June 27, 1967, and the Bishop of Malmesbury consecrated the site on December 7 1968, t The church was made of brick and reconstituted stone. It is six-sided with internal supports giving an uninterrupted view of the altar.

It has a lady chapel, vestry and other rooms. The woodwork is of American ash and the metalwork is polystyrene cast aluminium.

The bell, which is worked by electricity, was given by All Saints Church in Clifton and was cast in 1866. The cost of the church was met by appeal and war damage claims for windows in bombed churches which had become redundant and not rebuilt.

The cost of many of the interior features was provided by a bequest.

The interior includes spectacular stained glass, engraved glass, sculptures and fitments designed by Mr Roper.

He was a versatile and prolific artist who produced many important church commissions, which included the lettered panel for the tomb of Bede in Durham Cathedral.

He studied at the Royal College of Art where he developed a life-long admiration for Henry Moore.

St Peter's will be open on Saturday September 9 from 10am to 4.30pm.

Meanwhile, Corsham Civic Society has organised a host of events for this year's Heritage Open Days, kicking off with a talk by Celia James at 2.30pm every day next Thursday to Sunday about the church and its windows.

Next Friday at 2pm, Rudloe Stoneworks will be hosting a 45-minute tour demonstrating the production of stone fireplaces from local materials. Tickets are available from Corsham Tourist Information Centre.

On Saturday September 9, Ron Smith will be giving a talk on church silver and brass at St Bartholomew's church at 11.30am. On the same day, children of primary school age are invited to join a heritage treasure hunt at Heywood School from 10.30am.

At 11am on Saturday and Sunday September 9-10, a guided tour of Corsham centre will be led by Martin Yallop of the Corsham TIC .

At 12.30pm on the Saturday a second tour of Rudloe Stoneworks will begin - tickets are available from the TIC.

Peter Tapscott, vice chairman of Corsham Civic Society, said: "We are anticipating attendance from people who live outside the immediate area as well as from local residents. In the past we have seen locals use heritage open days as an excellent way of entertaining their weekend guests."

He said the tour of the Rudloe Stoneworks had captured the imagination of the whole country and resulted in an article in the BBC magazine Homes and Antiques September edition.

Other highlights of the event include Cricklade St Mary's medieval church opening its doors on Saturday September 9 from 10am to 3pm. The event has been organised by the church's friends group.

The Courthouse of the Warden and Freemen of Malmesbury in St John Street will also be open on the Saturday and Sunday September 9-10 from 12 noon till 4pm.

The 14th-century building was used as a borough court and school until the 19th century and is now a meeting place for the Freemen, founded in the 10th century.

This event is organised by the Malmesbury Civic Trust.