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Sunday morning at BP

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I took these on Sunday morning when I turned up for my tour guiding duty at BP and my coach group didn’t turn up. A very sunny and unusually peaceful day at Bletchley Park. The family crest above the doorway to the mansion has Herbert Samuel Leon’s initials in it and the date 1883 – the year the Leon family came to Bletchley Park. Leon died in 1926 but his wife, Lady Fanny (you’d be surprised the number of adults who start laughing at that point in the tour), stayed until she died in 1937.

Their four children were all grown up by then and didn’t want to take on the running of the family estate so BP was put up for auction. It didn’t reach its reserve price of about £7,000 and went in a private sale to a property developer called Captain Hubert Faulkner – not actually a captain, just something he liked to call himself. His plan was to knock down the mansion and build a larger house nearer the lake in the grounds and split off the rest of the property for housing development. But then the British government came along and after a while, including a trial rental period, forced poor Faulkner to sell them BP.

Why did the government move its code breaking operations to BP? The government was looking for somewhere in the country and hopefully safe from bombing raids and BP is very near Watling Street – the old A5 – and so very easily accessible from London. Also, there was already a telecoms booster cable in nearby Fenny Stratford – very handy if you’re going to move in thousands of people – and Bletchley sits between Oxford and Cambridge where the Government Code and Cypher School, which was to run BP, would do a lot of its recruiting of top code breakers.

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Lady Fanny’s sunken garden (I walked right into that one…) –

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The stained glass ceiling in the mansion’s foyer –

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The ceiling in the mansion’s ballroom. I think it’s plaster –

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The old office of Alastair Denniston, the first head of the Government Code and Cypher School at BP. He was replaced by his deputy Edward Travis in 1942 when BP got much bigger. Today BP is renovating this room to restore it to its wartime state –

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Coupon cards and various swastikas at BP’s toy and home front museum. The coupon book on the left is British and from the 1920s. Swastikas were used a lot because the swastika was a symbol for luck. But there are also some Nazi party badges in there, too –

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BP has its own little cinema where we have screenings of wartime and post-war Pathe news reels –

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Inside one of the poor huts. I don’t actually know what number hut this is or what it was used for during the war. Today it’s falling apart and is used for storage by the Bletchley Park Trust –

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“Have you been demobbed already?” Then nipple. Very good –

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