A Tour of the Bentley Priory Museum, Stanmore
Fighter Command HQ - Battle of Britain 1940
15th September 2017
Seventy seven years on from the Battle of Britain, thirty members of the Aldersgate Ward Club visited Bentley Priory, the former Headquarters of Fighter Command in the Second World War.
Fighter Command, headed by Air Chief Marshall Hugh C T Dowding, earned great fame when The Few held off the Luftwaffe attack on Britain on 15th September 1940. It was therefore poignant for us to be visiting Bentley Priory on the anniversary of that occasion. In the Rotunda of Bentley Priory we explored the wonderful collection of memorabilia of The Few, causing many of us to reflect that we would not be enjoying our lives today had it not been for the courage and bravery of those men. The Few, from all walks of life, shared a common ethos emphasising humility and understatement and the success of their outcomes was also dependent on the tireless work of The Many on the ground. The Operations room, featuring the Dowding System was fascinating, bringing together the many forms of intelligence to develop the defence strategy; outwitting the Luftwaffe.
This whole operation was set in the most elegant of houses, a Grade 2 listed building extended by Sir John Soane in the 18th Century. The RAF sold to a Housing Developer in 2008 and the establishment of The Museum was one of the conditions of sale. Our excellent tour guides, Pauline and Sharon were not only knowledgeable but passionate and enthusiastic in their delivery which added to the enjoyment of our day. There was also plenty of time to browse in the musuem and to enjoy the gardens before a scrumptious afternoon tea at which the Master elect proposed a well deserved toast to the Master for such an excellent event.
As this is The Master's last event we thank her for planning an excellent and interesting programme in 2016/2017 and especially so for her warmth, kindness and good humour in the delivery of each event. Well done Master.