Inside Bletchley Park

Situated in the verdant Buckinghamshire countryside, Bletchley Park is a grand Victorian estate surrounded by sweeping green lawns. But it’s the unique history of this site that makes it quite so interesting. The home of British code breaking during WWII, Bletchley was once Britain’s best kept secret. Now a unique heritage site, inspiring writers and filmmakers with its stories of secret intelligence, and enticing visitors to uncover the history that lies within its walls, we go inside Bletchley Park to find out all about its absorbing history.

Inside Bletchley Park
See original artefacts within Bletchley’s Parks extensive exhibits © Flickr / RossM

It was only in 1974 that the stories behind Bletchley Park were revealed with the publication of The Ultra Secret, an account of the Codebreakers there. Written by FW Winterbotham, this insightful book made the world aware of the impact that Bletchley’s secret intelligence had on the outcome of the war. For years, these newly revealed secrets were still relatively unknown, but soon filmmakers and TV producers took hold of the fascinating story.

Inside Bletchley Park
Objects on display include the Enigma Machine used for code-breaking © Flickr / Tim Gage

Of those filmed on location, BBC2 documentary, Bletchley Park: Code-Breaking’s Forgotten Genius and ITV drama, The Bletchley Circle, drew the largest audiences across the UK and beyond. But it was the Oscar-nominated movie, The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, which inspired the most international intrigue. Now, visitors to Bletchley Park can see behind the scenes of this movie at the special exhibit, The Imitation Game: The Exhibition.

Inside Bletchley Park
Take a look around Bletchley Park’s many showcases to see the work behind the Codebreakers © Flickr / Dave Addey

As the site for such a dramatic breakthrough in information technology, Bletchley Park not only recounts the historic events, it also relates the story that unfolded here to the advancement of modern technology in the present day. Visitors can wander through the manor house’s rooms and its surrounding Codebreaker Huts to get lost in the tales woven through each of the exhibits. From the multimedia visitor centre, move on to the restored huts, where messages were once decrypted, translated and analysed. Here, projections and recordings of the Codebreakers themselves bring the historic events to life.

Inside Bletchley Park
Set aside enough time to explore the grand estate © Flickr / Peter

While exploring the huts’ interactive exhibits, gain an insight into the code breaking methods they used, and see a recreation of Alan Turing’s office in the very place where it would have been. Elsewhere, step into the Wartime Garages where WWII vehicles are on display, and stop by The National Radio Centre, which looks back at how radio has evolved over the years. For an immersion into a pocket of history so full of mystery and intrigue, yet so relevant to the modern day, there truly aren’t many experiences more fitting than stepping inside Bletchley Park.

Discover the history behind Bletchley Park and the story of the Codebreakers by joining the Modern British Film Locations: Cambridge & Bletchley Park tour with Evan Evans.

Header image: A view of Bletchley Park © iStock / Chris Dorney