From The Daily Telegraph Thursday 16th. September 2011 page 2.
By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter
THE Prince of Wales today joins the fight to restore Bentley Priory, the nerve centre of the Battle of Britain, by launching a £1.8million appeal to save it for the nation.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the Prince describes the former headquarters of RAF Fighter Command as a "unique" part of our heritage which must be "celebrated and enjoyed" for generations to come.
The building from which Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding directed The Few in the summer of 1940 has faced an uncertain future since it became surplus to Ministry of Defence requirements in 2007.
But after veterans and campaigners won permission to convert it, they are close to preserving the rooms from which Nazi Germany was repelled.
The Prince of Wales's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, was a regular visitor to Bentley Priory during the war, and passed on her admiration of the Fighter Boys to the Prince, who has agreed to be Patron of the Bentley Priory Appeal.
If the necessary funds are raised in time, the Priory will be opened to the public in 2013. The Prince describes the Priory's history as "a unique blend of wonderful architecture, a rich social history and the effort of men and machines' in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds.
" While each of these facets has importance in its own right, together they represent an unparalleled blend of such significance that future generations need to find accessible."
The Prince's Regeneration Trust has already played a major role in the Priory's future, by acting as an arbiter in talks between the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust, the Ministry of Defence and developers who bought the site.
Together they came up with a groundbreaking deal in which most of the sprawling estate in Stanmore, Middlesex, would be converted into housing, allowing the historic core of the Priory to be preserved.
Since then the project has been given Heritage Lottery funding, but still needs the support of the public.
To donate to the appeal go to www.bentleypriory.org or send donations to Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust, Wendleberie, Moor Common, Lane End, Bucks., HP14 3HS. Cheques should be made payable to The Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust.
From The Daily Telegraph Thursday 16th. September 2011 page 28.
Your support is needed to preserve this building for the benefit of future generations
Bentley Priory is an iconic building with rich historical significance, not least as the home of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. The Priory's architectural merit, which owes much to the work of Sir John Soane, makes it an obvious candidate for restoration.
Soane's work is woven into the fabric of our nation, particularly in the capital. From the striking facade of the Bank of England 'and the building's elegant rotunda, to the remodelling of numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street, Soane's flair for the infinitely versatile language of classicism and his understanding of proportion make such buildings jewels in our urban landscape. As such they are timeless, but Soane was not without his contemporary critics. Nevertheless, the fact that many of his country houses - of which Bentley Priory is a classic example - remain in use today, underscores the sustainability of his designs.
At Bentley Priory, Soane repeated the classic rotunda from the Bank of England and produced a house of such majesty that it was a magnet for the political and literary celebrities of the 18th century. However, the added dimension of its role in defending Great Britain in 1940, when the future of the free world was at stake, means that the less tangible aspects of its history also have to be preserved. As a nation, we should not forget the extraordinary bravery and sacrifice of those involved in the Battle of Britain. Nor should we overlook the role of Air Chief Marshal Dowding's leadership in directing the battle, and the way in which the technology of the day was harnessed so effectively. But Dowding, too, had his critics, who regarded his focus on air defence as an obsession that was
futile against the bomber threat. Victory in the Battle of Britain was arguably the turning point of World War II, yet, as Sir Winston Churchill described: "The odds were great; our margins small; the stakes were infinite."
The restoration of important buildings is both a time-consuming and expensive business, but their preservation adds greatly to the important heritage, and fabric, of our country, and to the continuation of our "island story". I am hugely encouraged by the creative way in which the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust has worked, with assistance from my Regeneration Trust, to forge an innovative partnership with the developers - one which I hope can serve as a blueprint for similar heritage projects in the future. The deal brokered after considerable negotiation has ensured that the regeneration of this mansion is heritage led. That is to say, its past will be honoured while ensuring it has a viable and active future. This regeneration will continue to support the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust to ensure the building can be celebrated and enjoyed as a residential space and as a fascinating piece of British heritage.
In adding its own support, the Heritage Lottery Fund also recognises the significance of this project. Here, the heritage in question is a unique blend of wonderful architecture, a rich social history and the compelling effort of men and machines in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. While each of these facets has importance in its own right, together they represent an unparalleled blend of such significance that future generations need to find accessible. Otherwise, they will fade from memory and our "island story" will be incomplete.
My grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, was a great advocate of Bentley Priory. She was a frequent visitor during the war years and beyond as she supported her "Fighter Boys". Consequently, having had the great privilege to succeed her as Patron of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association, I recognize that the survivors of the Few consider Bentley Priory to be their spiritual home. I am therefore particularly pleased to maintain my family's connection with Bentley Priory in my capacity as Patron of a trust that will preserve both the fabric and the history of such a symbolic building for the benefit of future generations.
To donate to the appeal go to www.bentleypriory.org or send donations to Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust, Wendleberie, Moor Common, Lane End, Bucks HP14 3HS. Make cheques payable to The Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust