Friday, 1 March 2013

Bletchley Park - Part 1

I have always been fascinated by Bletchley Park. My grandmother was in the WRENs during WW2 working in some capacity with code-breaking and ciphers. She didn't work at Bletchley, but one of her school friends did, and she has often talked about life during the War, which sparked my interest in Bletchley. So last week, when it was half term (one of the perks of working in a school), my father and I decided to go and visit it.

I got a bit happy-snappy so I think I am going to have to split this into two posts. The first will be about Bletchley House. 

This is Bletchley House. I was suprised how small it was, since so many people worked there. Its more like a 19th century upper middle class country house, than a grand mansion on a large estate. 
After the war the house was largely left to fall into disrepair, but thanks to the Bletchley Park Trust (formed in the 1990s) the house is now nearly completely restored. I have to say beautifully restored. Unfortunately, to raise funds to renovated the rest of the Bletchley site, the Trust rent out the rooms for corporate events, so their is ugly modern furniture in every room. However, we were still able to wonder around and see quite a few of the ground floor rooms. 

In the hall facing the front door. I am not sure when the house was built (there didn't seem to be any info about it), but in the 1880s it was bought by a wealthy London financier and his wife, Sir Herbert and Lady Leon, who added a wing to the house in the early 1900s. The house has been restored to how it would have looked during the Leon's time, hence all the Edwardian paneling. 

A corridor which seemed to double as a coat/boot room.

You can see the evidence of it being used for corporate events.

The library. I loved this room. If you ignore the ugly furniture, you can imagine what it might have been like during the Edwardian era. During the war the room was divided into 3 offices. It is a decent size, but not big enough to be split into 3 rooms. They must have been 3 tiny offices!!

The bookshelves are all original, and beautiful.

Once again ignore the ugly table.

Amazing original fireplace

The hall (looking away from the front door)

Sadly the first floor was off limits. :( Apparently the rooms on all the floors, apart from the ground floor, are rented out as office space to businesses.

I can't precisely remember what the original function of this room was, though I have a feeling it was the Drawing Room.

The Ballroom, which was used as a cinema during the War.

Detail of the ceiling

Another room off the main hall, well its more like a covered courtyard then a room

I thought that mainly because of the ceiling

 Looking towards the hall.

The dining room, which had some lovely old photos of the house and the people who worked their.

 Some of the servants at the beginning of 20th century

Carpenters and maids c.1900

Next post: the rest of the Bletchley Estate.