Along a gravel footpath and down a steep concrete slope, this particular open building could hardly be described as one of Dorset’s architectural gems.

But who cares about that when it saved the lives of all the pupils and teachers at Talbot Heath School, including a certain Baroness Shirley Williams who was one of the upmarket young ladies who sheltered here while Hitler bombed the south coast during World War II?

The 100ft bunker is one of four shelters at the school and has been refurbished to look as it did when the girls scrambled into it all those years ago and, as an additional treat, there will be archive material on display from the war years.

The Talbot Heath bunker is just one of a number of war-related venues, walks and talks which feature in the week-long architectural extravaganza which overlaps with the National Heritage Open Days.

Following on from the centenary commemorations, buildings and structures with First World War connections loom large with Dorset Heritage Week which has already had huge interest in visits to the Royal Naval Cordite Factory at Holton Heath. This munitions factory was built as part of the war effort and the bookable tour also includes the chance to view a scale model of the original site.

One of the week’s cultural highlights will be the talk on the work of Sir Edwin Lutyens, designer of The Cenotaph and the Commonwealth War Graves. Architect Neil Bichard will explore Lutyens’ work with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the context of his whole career – including a commission in Lulworth – through to Chandigarh in India and Castle Drogo in Devon.

However, as Dorset Heritage Week likes to point out, the county is blessed with a plethora of War-related places including the 700 First World War memorials spread across Dorset, including the Grade II* listed memorial by Eric Gill at Bladen Valley.

They stress the historical value of visiting the Tank Museum at Bovington, as well as The Nothe Fort Museum with its WW1 batteries and a programme of events including commemoration of the ANZAC troops.

There are archaeological remains of several wartime practice trenches spread across the Dorset heathlands and sea defences at Portland Harbour, as well as an underwater heritage of wrecks including The Hood, one of the best preserved battleships of her period in existence.

The site remains of one of the main German Prisoner of War camps in Dorchester and there are also records of 52 VAD hospitals that treated injured soldiers returning from the front.

But if war is not your fancy, there are plenty of other interesting places to see and talks to attend, says DHW’s Ian Utley.

“The most popular event this year so far is the Behind The Scenes Tour of the Russell-Cotes Gallery,” he says.

“Closely followed by the Cordite Factory, Deans Court In Wimborne, All Saints Church at Parley and Highcliffe Castle.”

The Clavell tower at Kimmeridge – literary inspiration to writers Thomas Hardy and P D James – is also open for visitors. Normally only those who book to stay through the Landmark Trust get to enjoy its four storeys and breathtaking 360 degree views, but over Heritage Week it’s free, although visits have to be booked.

And for lovers of our feathery friends there’s a talk on Architecture for Birds, about dovecotes in Dorset, at Bournemouth Natural Science Society in Christchurch Road.