It was a gorgeous sunny day and I was filled with excitement for two reasons. Firstly I was getting to spend the day with one of my bestest girlies, Carrie, my friend from university who I don't get to see as often as I would like. Secondly we just arrived at Bletchley Park. I am a huge history nerd. I'd been wanting to to come to Bletchley Park for ages and was pleased to be spending the day immersed is World War II history.
A brief history lesson if you haven't heard of Bletchley Park or if you've not watched The Imitation Game! During the Second World War Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes was the main site of the UK Government Code and Cypher School. The code breakers stationed here regularly deciphered the top secret communications of the Axis Powers. The most famous of these being the cracking of the German Enigma cipher. Project Ultra, as it was known, is believed to have shortened the war by at least 2 to 4 years.
Carrie and I bought our tickets, picked up our media guides. Top tip if you are planning on visiting travel by train and you get two for one entry into Bletchley Park all you need is your train ticket and a voucher from a flyer at the station. You'll save yourself about £12. The media guide they give you is great, very informative and interactive but it prohibited conversation between Carrie and I. As we don't get a chance to catch up very often we put the guides in our bags for the rest of the visit.
As we walked into the house we came across The Imitation Game exhibition. This was a lovely surprise. I was hoping for some references to the movie as we went around but I never hoped for a full exhibition.
I adored this film I get dehydrated every time I watch it through excessive tears. It is a clever, beautiful made and superbly acted. The exhibition was excellent. There were costumes worn by Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Charles Dance.
The props used where so detailed. From ID cards used to typed letters they really did everything brilliantly. They had the engagement ring Alan makes for Joan and even the rocks he threw at her window.
The highlight of this exhibition was seeing the sets used in filming. They had the bar scene set up where Alan and Joan have there engagement party and Alan has the breakthrough when he is told the German coders often use the same words. This was a brilliant start to the day!
After this we went over to the museum and looked at all the different Enigma Machines and found out more about the life of Alan Turing. The best part of this section was the demonstration of a replica Bombe (the machines invented by Alan Turing to crack Enigma) the volunteers were great very knowledgable and entertaining. Sadly it was still to complicated for me to understand but it was fascinating to watch!
Lastly we went into the huts where the code breakers worked completely oblivious of the importance of the work they were doing. It was kept that way for secrecy. The workers rarely sat next to the same person and only ever worked on one part of the code. This reduced the amount of people that knew the full story of the work that was going on at Bletchley Park. Secrecy was drilled into the workers of Bletchley Park so much so that many people took their stories with them to the grave even after the release of the official secrets act.
My favourite part about the huts was that they really gave you the atmosphere of what working there would have been like. This was helped by images of Wren's and code breakers hard at work projected on to the walls of the huts. Very clever and MUCH less creepy than mannequins!
Our busy day came to an end with tired feet, heads full of knowledge, hungry tummies and smiles on our faces we headed off to a local country pub for tea!
Have you ever been to Bletchley Park or is it still on your to do list?