History buffs and inquisitive minds alike will marvel at the stories that lie behind the walls of Bletchley Park. Set in a stunning Victorian estate, the huts and blocks behind the gates held the secret to much of Britain’s success in World War Two, and now they’re open for visitors…
Follow a walking trail that leads you around the site, through the visitor centre which houses the all-important introduction to Bletchley Park, its work and its employees, as well as temporary exhibitions that change seasonally, then around the lake, up to the mansion, into the huts, and finish off with a visit to the museum before browsing the books in the shop. You can easily spend 4 to 5 hours meandering these walls, reading all of the information and engaging with the interactive exhibition elements.
Commander Denniston’s (Head of the Government Code and Cypher School) Office and Library are recreated as they were during the war. I loved browsing the bookshelves and found some classic first editions!
Garages & Stableyard
Wartime vehicles used for transporting top secret intelligence are on display, and the cottages in the Stableyard are a memory of a bygone era; this was home to Alan Turing and where the first breakthroughs to cracking the German Enigma were made. Look out for the wall carvings.
Huts 11 & 11A: the Bombe Machine
An immersive experience all about the Bombe machine; audio tracks, photographs, videos and recreations of the machine tell you of the women that worked there and what it was like to operate them. They nicknamed this building the “Hell-Hole”.
Huts 3 & 6: Codebreaking for the German Army & Airforce
These restored codebreaking huts have rooms recreated as they would have been during the war; each tell you what would have taken place inside and feature a mixture of projections, audio and information plaques. Work was so secret here that one hut didn’t know what the other was doing.
Hut 8: Codebreaking for the German Navy
This hut houses a recreation of Alan Turing’s office, plus more interactive exhibitions, a movie about the sacrifices of brave servicemen, and an exhibition dedicated to the importance of pigeons during the war. (Really!)
Block B Museum
A fascinating insight into different machines and how they operate, the museum houses exhibitions and collections on different aspects of the war. Important names are highlighted (check out the area about the British spy) and a dedicated space to the work of Alan Turing (rarely spoken about throughout the rest of the site) is complete with some of his notes and early manuscripts.
Now before you think a place like Bletchley Park is only for mega history buffs and those on the more mature side of life – think again! This isn’t my area of expertise or interest (I’m more of an ancient history girl!), but experiencing a place like this with someone who is truly fascinated is infectious! It really opens your eyes to the incredibly complex nature of the human mind, and what you can achieve if you’re on the crazy clever (my words) end of the spectrum. The fact that the work that went on at Bletchley Park was kept a government secret for decades makes it all the more intriguing; it puts what you learned or think you know about the war out the window, it makes you reevaluate history. I think of the stories I heard from my Grandad and Great-Grandad about the war, and now I know that Bletchley had an influence on all of that. So with that being said, because an admission ticket allows you further visits free for a year, and this wealth of information, history and work of national importance is literally on our doorstep, I’ll make sure I’m available to tag along next time, too.