Saturday, we went to historic Bletchley Park, about an hour away, just outside of Milton Keynes:
Its enduring fame rests on what happened there during World War II:
The intelligence complex was built around, and prominently includes, a small former stately home – Bletchley Park – that the British government bought in the 1930s:
The grounds – which given the number of academics working here during the war, were deliberately maintained in their “stately home” manner because they resembled an Oxford or Cambridge college – are pleasant:
Much of the codebreaking work was done in hastily built non-descript huts by many of the eventually 9,000 people – about 75% of whom were women, many as young as age 18 – based here:
By early 1941, before the US officially entered the war, high level Americans were stopping by and being included in the intelligence finds.
This, a guide said, was where the relationship between Britain and the US truly became “special”: the two countries began sharing military intelligence so closely it was as if they were not two different countries.
After Germany declared war on the US in December, in years to come there would also be some “ordinary” American soldiers based around the area. Those young men and British young ladies got together whenever possible:
And they often got on very well.
But most of those ordinary American soldiers did not have security clearance to know what was going on at Bletchley Park:
Imagine if there’d been Twitter back then?
The mansion – where the “top level” work often went on and the bosses and commanders directed matters – is indeed grand both inside and outside:
It had been built in the 1870s by a minor “gentry” family that lived in it until the 1920s. Learning that, suddenly I wasn’t thinking about the 1940s. About now, the writer in me also emerged.
It feels like a “home,” not like a “palace”… much like, I could not help but think, a century older “Langley Hall” in Conventions: The Garden At Paris…
I could almost picture “Robert Rutherford” in the hallway:
Or I could almost hear…
…“Sir Samuel” holding forth on his memories of his years in America whilst in the library:
…or glimpse a…
…seventeen year old “Carolina Beckington” trying to make herself unseen, while pausing at the top of the staircase and eavesdropping on what was being said downstairs:
Anyway, back to more recent times – and even to current happenings.😊
Until October 2018, there is an Ian Fleming/”James Bond” art exhibition in one of the former codebreakers’ huts. “Bond” author Fleming was in British naval intelligence during the war.
“Mr. Bond” was in many respects based on his own experiences and what he saw of how intelligence was handled during the war:
One of the acts included the Jive Aces, who made the sounds of the era – Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, etc. – come alive once more:
It also included a performance by a dancer group called “Charlie’s Angels.”
We danced, too. But if you think you’re seeing photos of me attempting the Charleston?
Well, uh, err, no way you will!
Earlier, I happened also to notice this small tree, planted near the Visitor Center:
Let there be peace. Indeed. Have a good Monday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂