Unit History: RAF Bentley Priory

RAF Bentley Priory
RAF Bentley Priory was a non-flying Royal Air Force station near Stanmore in the London Borough of Harrow. It was famous as the headquarters of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain and the Second World War. The RAF Bentley Priory site includes a Grade II* listed Officers’ Mess and Italian Gardens. These, together with the park are designated a Registered Garden Grade II.
 
Originally built in 1766, Bentley Priory was significantly extended in 1788, by Sir John Soane, for the First Marquis of Abercorn. The priory was the final home of the Dowager Queen Adelaide, queen consort of William IV, before her death there in 1849. It subsequently served as a hotel and girls’ school before being acquired by the Royal Air Force in 1926.
 
The latter Royal Air Force station role ceased on 30 May 2008 following the relocation of units to their new accommodation at RAF Northolt. The site has been handed over to Defence Estates, who in turn will pass it to the prime plus contractor for Project MoDEL, VSM Estates, a company formed by developers Vinci and St Modwen who are responsible for developing proposals and the subsequent the disposal of the site to developers who will realise the scheme.
 
Under Supplementary planning guidance agreed in 2007 by London Borough of Harrow the site will include a museum open to the public in the main rooms of the house, recording and interpreting the history of the site and in particular the Battle of Britain and Cold War heritage. The museum is to be run by the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust who are developing the scheme with the support of The Princes Regeneration Trust. The latest plans for the site include the building of luxury flats, built in the grade II* listed mansion above the proposed museum. The site of the Cold War bunker will also be available for public access, though only ground level due to the safety issues of allowing public access to the deep areas. English Heritage surveyed all Cold War bunkers in the UK and decided not to Schedule this particular bunker as an Ancient Monument (though others have been so designated).

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