Bletchley Park is embracing the change of season this Autumn with something for everyone to help make the most of this colourful time of year. The former top-secret home of Britain’s World War Two Codebreakers, now a vibrant museum, has a packed calendar of interactive exhibitions and events that tell the story of this historic site.
This time of year sees not only a change of weather, but also marks the 80th anniversary since the beginning of World War Two and the point that the Government Code and Cypher School (GC & CS) occupied Bletchley Park permanently. Follow in the footsteps of the 10,000 people who worked at Bletchley Park and its outstations and visit the unique Bletchley Park mansion. Set in former parkland, enjoy the 166 trees as they change colour over the coming weeks and the picturesque lake in the 25-acre site.
Not just for adults, Bletchley Park is free for the under-12s and half term sees popular artist Emily Tracy hosting drop-in sessions for children. Activities include creating 1940’s origami uniforms, secret sketching, flip books, patterns, coded messages and invisible ink; all part of the Big Draw 2019 – Drawn to Life.*
The workshops will take place in the new temporary exhibition – The Illustration Game: Sketches from the Archives, located in Hut 12, a fun exhibition with interactive games to play. The display also showcases some rarely seen sketches and cartoons created by signals intelligence staff and Veterans.
Unique family tours are also available to discover more about the people behind the machines that helped break the Enigma cipher at Bletchley Park during WW2. In this interactive tour guests will learn some surprising new facts, explore everyday life at Bletchley Park in 1941 and might even take part in some secret war work.**
As the nights draw in, it’s also an opportunity to learn something new. Venture behind the scenes of secret messaging and sign up for the popular one-day course – Past, Present, Future: Codes and Ciphers. Learn how a selection of codes and ciphers work, from those used in ancient fields of battle to important cryptographic algorithms that form the basis of many of today’s secure communications systems. You can also get to grips with a WW2 Enigma machine before dipping a toe into what might happen in the future.***
Recently named as one of the UK’s top travel experiences, in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist, Rebecca Foy, Director of Public Engagement at Bletchley Park said: ‘Our programme of exhibitions and events is always changing meaning there is lots to see and do here throughout the year. We were thrilled to be ranked 145th out of 500 of the most memorable, beautiful, surprising and compelling experiences to be had across Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands, and we pride ourselves on offering a visitor attraction that’s both fun and informative.’
New for this year is also a permanent exhibition coinciding with the 75th anniversary of D-Day, ‘D-Day: Interception, Intelligence, Invasion’, presenting the vital impact intelligence produced at Bletchley Park had on the invasion plans.
Bletchley Park’s popular 1940s vintage weekend will be taking place on the 28-29 September and the annual Remembrance Parade takes place on Sunday 10 November.
Residents living within 10-mile radius of Bletchley Park can also take advantage of 50% off tickets until 31 December 2019. All visitors only need to pay for entry once to enjoy a free annual pass allowing them to return again and again to enjoy free on-site activities, one-day events and changing displays.
For a full list of What’s On visit the Bletchley Park website: https://bletchleypark.org.uk/whats-on.
* These drop-in activities are included with admission and are suitable for children aged 5-14, accompanied by an adult. Sessions will be running on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 11am and 3.30pm, with last admission at 3pm.
** This is a full-day course that is designed for adults with confidence in maths up to GCSE level and an interest in delving a little deeper. It will be accessible to older children who want to find out more about secret communication but must be accompanied by a paying adult.
*** Family Tours are only available on Monday 28 October and Friday 1 November. The tour is suitable for families with children aged 5-14, last approximately 45 minutes and takes place outside. Please visit the information desk on arrival for tour timings and to book your place.
Image: Hut 3, by Andy Stagg, Bletchley Park Trust