We were lucky enough to receive this as a Virgin Experience Day from our son and his girlfriend as a Christmas present, which included a cream tea – the prices are:
Adults – £20.00
Concessions – £17.50
Children 12 to 17 – £12.00
Children under 12 – FREE
Family Ticket – £52.00
These tickets include an annual season pass, so you can have unlimited returns for a year.
There is free parking on site.
Length of time spent here:
We were here for approximately six hours.
This is somewhere my husband and I have wanted to visit for a very long time, but it is a good two and a half hours driving for us from the South of England, so when we received this voucher as a Christmas present, we knew that this trip was definitely on the cards.
I thought that I would come away from Bletchley Park with my ears ringing about Alan Turing and his contribution to the war effort. Yes, he was mentioned and we saw his desk together with his assistant’s desk (I feel that not enough focus is placed on the assistants and secretaries of great people – I feel a blog coming!)
But I was pleasantly surprised to see other people being recognised and their stories revealed: how Mavis Batey (nee Lever) who was just 19 when she worked on the Italian Naval Enigma machine, she broke into their framework and deciphered a message which said, “Today’s the day minus three”. She and her colleagues worked for three days and nights and discovered that the Italians were intending to assault a Royal Navy convoy transporting supplies from Cairo, Egypt to Greece. The messages they deciphered provided a detailed plan of the Italian assault. There were short stories from people who worked at Bletchley Park describing the entertainment, what the food was like and the fact that there were many romances between staff members. In fact, Mavis met Keith Batey, a fellow codebreaker at Bletchley Park and they married in 1942.
We took a tour of the huts, which I found really interesting, the offices were all laid out as they would have been in the war. Phil, my husband, being a chef, loves looking round old fashioned kitchens and me, having worked in offices all my life, I love looking around offices when I get the chance, I especially like the old fashioned typewriters. I do admire anyone who can type fast on these, no spell checker, no delete button, but you do get the bell when you reach the end of a line!
We saw the Bombe, which was the electro-mechanical device that deciphered the German Enigma machine. The initial design of this was produced at Bletchley Park by Alan Turing: Gordon Welchman made the device more efficient by bringing down the deciphering time from two days to 15 minutes.
We had booked ourselves onto a guided tour, which was very interesting, the guide gave us lots of information about Bletchley telling us about the shift system, (three shifts per day), that there was only about 35 people working here at the start of the war and by the end there was about 9000 people. The fact that the work was so secret that the codebreakers didn’t know what the people in the next room were working on. It was an hour tour and I’d thoroughly recommend it.
After the guided tour was the much anticipated cream tea. You do need to pre-book this, it was fully booked on our day. The cost is £18 on top of the entry fee and for an extra £6.00 you can have a glass of Prosecco. The menu was:
Blue cheese & broccoli quiche
Gammon ham & cheese finger sandwiches
Smoked salmon, crème fraiche & cucumber open mini roll
Free range egg, mayo & cress sandwiches
Selection of Eclairs
Selection of macaroons
Fruit and plain scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserves
Anna’s homemade shortbread
Your choice of:
Variety of loose-leaf teas or fresh ground coffee
We thoroughly enjoyed the cream tea and it was a lovely way to end our visit.
Our walk back to the main entrance was via the lake, where in the winter it froze over and the workers used to ice skate and play ice hockey and it was the venue for the clandestine meetings between co-workers.
My prize for the most unusual exhibit goes to the pigeon carrier, which would parachute the pigeons to soldiers, for the pigeons to forward on messages to the troops.
All in all, a great day out, with lots of displays and interactive exhibitions to find out if you could cut it as a spy and don’t forget, if you don’t manage to see everything in one day, you can use your annual season ticket to come back another time, free of charge!