Bletchley Park restoration uncovers historic foundations

Detail from the 1718 Estate Survey
Detail from the 1718 Estate Survey

Foundations believed to be of a house that predated the iconic Mansion have been found as part of the £8 million, Heritage Lottery Funded restoration of Bletchley Park.

Water Hall was built in 1711 but by the late 18th century it had fallen into disrepair and was demolished by 1806.

English Heritage’s 2004 report on the historic value and importance of Bletchley Park says: “The mansion was the third significant house to be built in this part of the estate. A farmhouse existed in the vicinity of Water Hall in 1780; this was probably the same farmhouse that stood to the north-west of the Water Hall site as late as 1871. Together with its outbuildings (a dairy and stables), it would have been demolished prior to the construction of the present mansion. It seems to have stood on the site now occupied by a lawn, to the south of Hut 4. Contrary to some accounts, none of its structure was incorporated within the mansion.”

The English Heritage report says the core of the higgledy-piggledy Mansion which is now known the world over as a symbol of World War Two Bletchley Park was built between 1871 and 1881.

A section of in situ bricks were found during the digging of trenches for electricity cables to power soundscapes; part of the highly atmospheric interpretation of the parkland.

Gillian Mason, Bletchley Park’s Curator, said: “We knew where the remains were likely to be but were by no means certain they had survived, so all due care was taken not to damage any archaeology that was found. It’s yet another exciting discovery.”

In December, foundations of World War Two Huts 2 and 9 were found under the concrete car park, which is being restored to parkland, as it was in WW2.