NEW! GROUP TOUR – Battle of Britain & War Time Nostalgia
The One The Few The Many
A must for aviation fans and those interested in War time Nostalgia – This tour takes you to Bentley Priory Museum, from where the Battle of Britain was won, with optional visits to the nearby De Havilland Aircraft Museum, the RAF Museum at Hendon and Bletchley Park Museum near Milton Keynes – the home of the code breakers during WWII, all within easy reach.
We can even organise an evening of music from the period in the hotel to keep you entertained.
You will stay in a hotel in the Watford area – ideally placed to visit all the attractions on a dinner, bed & breakfast basis.
Dates available throughout 2019
Travel to Hertfordshire
Travel to your hotel in the Watford area. There are lots of suggested stops on route – just let us know where you are coming from and we will make some suitable suggestions.
Travel to your hotel for dinner.
Bentley Priory Museum
After breakfast in the hotel it’s a short drive to Stanmore and the Bentley Priory Museum.
Bentley Priory Museum tells the fascinating story of the beautiful Grade II listed country house, focusing on its role as Headquarters Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.
Before the Air Ministry bought Bentley Priory in 1926, it had been a private home, hotel and girls’ school.
Bentley Priory was once a Priory, home to a cell of Augustinian Friars. It is believed that the Priory was founded in 1170 by Ranulf de Glanville, who became Chief Justiciary of England. During the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1500s, Bentley Priory ceased to be a priory and the land changed hands on numerous occasions, including brief ownership by King Henry VIII.
In 1766 the estate was sold to James Duberly. Duberly pulled down the original Priory and built the first part of the present Bentley Priory, on the highest point on the ridge some distance from the original site.
In 1788, Bentley Priory was sold to John James Hamilton, the 9th Earl of Abercorn, who became the 1st Marquess of Abercorn in 1789.
In 1788, The Marquess of Abercorn commissioned architect Sir John Soane to extend and refurbish Bentley Priory in ‘a more lavish and sumptous manner’.
Dowager Queen Adelaide, the aunt of Queen Victoria, lived at Bentley Priory during the last year of her life, 1848-1849. The spectacular ceiling in the ‘Queen Adelaide’ room at Bentley Priory was restored as part of the creation of the Museum.
After Queen Adelaide’s death, the estate was sold to Sir John Kelk, noted civil & railway engineer. He added a picture gallery, conservatories, the clocktower and commisioned the creation of the Italian Gardens, which have been restored and are accessible to Museum visitors.
The estate was sold in 1882 to Frederick Gordon, of Gordon Hotels, who converted Bentley Priory into a hotel.
In 1926, the Priory estate was split up and one lot comprising of the Priory itself and around 40 acres was sold to the Air Ministry, for a sum believed to be £25,000. In May 1926, Inland Area (Training Command), part of the Air Defence of Great Britain (ADGB) moved into the Priory. As the RAF grew in size, the ADGB was dissolved and Bomber, Coastal, Fighter and Training Commands were created.
In July 1936, RAF Fighter Command was created and moved into Bentley Priory. Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding became its first Commander-in-Chief.
Fighter Command amalgamated with Bomber Command in 1968, to form Strike Command and Bentley Priory became an administrative and training unit.
The RAF were Bentley Priory’s longest serving residents, occupying the Mansion House and grounds until they departed in 2008.
Explore the important stories of ‘The One’– Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, ‘The Few’ who took to the air to defend our skies and ‘The Many’ without whose tireless work on the ground victory would not have been possible and discover how technology, leadership and courage forged victory allowing Britain’s darkest hour to also be her Finest Hour.
You will have a one hour guided tour at the Museum followed by some free time. There will then be a lunch/afternoon tea served in the lovely cafe overlooking the spectacular Italian Gardens, and if the weather is nice, outside seating is available.
After lunch there is an optional visit to the De Havilland Aircraft Museum at London Colney, the oldest aviation museum in the UK dedicated to the preservation and display of de Havilland Aircraft. The de Havilland Aircraft Company played an important role in the history of aircraft development in 20th century Britain. The de Havilland company created world beating aeronautical innovations including many iconic aircraft such as the de Havilland Mosquito – ‘The Wooden Wonder’, the Comet – the world’s first jet airliner, the Tiger Moth – the ‘backbone’ of the RAF’s training aircraft in WWII and the Airspeed Horsa Glider – used extensively by our airborne troops in 1944 during D-Day, Arnhem and the Rhine crossing.
This is a ‘working museum’ where they actively restore de Havilland Aircraft, so you are likely to see the volunteers at work, who are always willing to answer your questions.
The De Havilland Aircraft Museum is 10 miles from Bentley Priory and closes on a Monday. Guided group visits last 2 hours and include refreshments. Supplement from £18 per person.
Please note you may opt to do this visit on the day of arrival or day of departure instead.
Optional visits to RAF Museum North London or Bletchley Park & Return home
After breakfast in the hotel, may we suggest a visit to RAF Museum at Hendon – under 10 miles from Watford.
The Royal Air Force Museum London is celebrating and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force in 2018 through a major transformation of its visitor experience.
In summer 2018 they will be launching three new innovative galleries that will explore the first 100 years of the RAF, its role today and will invite visitors to imagine its future contribution and technology.
The rest of the site including the multi award-winning First World War in the Air Galleries, Historic Hangars and Bomber Command Hall are open now – offering a great day out to all our visitors.
Explore the RAF’s story through our programme of events, lectures and temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Entrance is free.
Alternatively, and ideal for those travelling north, visit Bletchley Park (near Milton Keynes), around an hour’s drive from Watford Once the top-secret home of the World War Two Codebreakers, Bletchley Park is now a vibrant heritage attraction, open daily to visitors. Highlights include the restored Code breaking huts, atmospheric soundscapes, plus a stunning new visitor centre, with hands on displays and beautiful grounds to enjoy.
Hilton Hotel Watford – 4 star Hotel a couple of miles from Town Centre, recently refurbished, lounge area and bar, large gym. Plenty of free onsite coach parking .
Mercure Hotel Watford, – 4 star hotel a short distance from the Hilton Hotel, a few miles from the town centre. Small lounge area, bar and restaurant. Hotel has a leisure centre with indoor pool and gym. Plenty of free onsite coach parking
Jury’s Inn Watford – 3 star hotel hotel situated a few minutes walk from the Town centre. Bar area and restaurant. No coach parking available at the hotel.
|2018 Dates||From £139.00 per person|
|2019 Dates||From £139.00 per person|
Prices are based on double/twin rooms – a supplement will apply for single occupancy rooms.