A DAY of reflection on the sacrifices the ‘few’ made during the Second World War is expected as the Battle of Britain museum is unveiled at Bentley Priory today (Thursday).
Built in the 1770s, the former RAF base in The Common, Stanmore, was the headquarters of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, where Air Chief Marshal Dowding planned and commanded the defence of Great Britain against the threat of invasion, and is regarded as the spiritual home of the ‘few’.
Since it was announced in 2005 that the Grade II* Listed mansion house was to be sold by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) for redevelopment, ex-servicemen and woman, volunteers, heritage experts and politicians campaigned to ensure that alongside any new homes, a museum honouring the fallen and celebrating the history of the landmark building would be secured.
The Observer’s Save Bentley Priory campaign documented their efforts.
That ambition will be realised today when Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales, who is patron of The Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust, and the Duchess of Cornwall, will officially open the museum.
It will be run by Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust, which was formed in 2006 to ensure that space and start-up funding for a museum were guaranteed, and will open to the public next month.
Conservative MP for Harrow East, Bob Blackman, said: “Bentley Priory is a key historical site of particular architectural merit, so it is wonderful that both aspects are being preserved, one with the creation of a museum and the other with the addition of housing that is appropriate for the area.
“I pay tribute to the veterans, and to the Harrow Observer, for leading the campaign to preserve the remarkable history of this site.”