I visited this National Trust property last month with my U3A walking group on a Heritage Day, when we were given a fascinating guided tour.
So imagine yourself back in the 1940’s. Britain as usual, has turned defeat into triumph with the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk using plucky little boats and seaman/ fishermen/ hobbyists to get as many soldiers safely out of France. The powers that be firmly expect Hitler to keep going and invade Britain in the very near future. So there is a cunning plan to train up men with reserved occupations as saboteurs and resitance fighters. And where was this done, why on the Coleshill estate deep in the Cotswolds.
As a group we were shown and had a go at decyphering messages..
After that we were taken up to a guards’ hut, hidden deep in the woods to evade being photos being taken by enemy planes. Apparently German records do not include a photo of this estate, so they were successful in keeping it hidden.
Now the idea was that small groups of trained men would leave their families and live deep underground and carry out their missions. They would not know the whereabouts of other groups in case they were caught . Life expectancy was estimated to be three weeks. It must have been hard to keep their training secret from families, and maybe some were falsly accused by fellow citizens as cowards.
By deep underground we had the chance to enter a reproduction of such a bunker.
It was quite a steep rickety ladder. There were beds and a means to prepare meals. It smelt earthy and damp. It was one way in and one way out
I have to say it was one of the most unusual and fascinating National Trust properties I have been too, and enormous fun.
Afterwards we had chance to visit and art exhibtion on the same site all depicting paintings of concrete huts of one kind and another. Absolutely loved it.
My two favourite pictures
Now should you wish to visit here’s a link- https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-buscot-and-coleshill-estates/whats-on
And before you think it’s too far away for me, the lady I talked to in front of these very pictures was visiting from Australia!
PS they have a jolly nice cafe too with wonderful staff who served three of us coffee we had arrived early before they had opened. Now that’s service.
Hope you enjoyed this wonderful piece of history.