Biggin Hill Memorial Museum news update

Published Friday, 4 September 2015

Plans to finally create a heritage centre to commemorate Biggin Hill’s role in World War Two, and safeguard the long term future of St George’s chapel, are moving forwards.

A public meeting Chaired by the Archdeacon of Bromley and Bexley, a Trustee of the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Trust, on Wednesday night heard that by sympathetically developing the Chapel site, the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum could be created whilst also enabling the ongoing worshipping function of the Chapel to continue. The early stage business planning work shows that combining both the Chapel and a heritage centre together represents the best chance of creating a sustainable future, as two separate sites will incur increased building management and maintenance costs for instance. 

Councillor Stephen Carr, Leader of Bromley said, “We actually need to make this happen and that is what our discussions have been about. There have been many plans put forward over the years and sadly nothing has actually happened. To both save the Chapel and to create a permanent Memorial Museum, is the vision the Council is currently working towards to make a reality.” 

Councillor Carr added, “As the custodian for the pledged public monies, we need to ensure that whatever is built is sustainable for future generations and all audiences. The proposals are still at early stages, and public discussion and consultation are clearly part of this, with a recognition that with the wide variety of views, not everyone will approve of the detail, although everyone will approve of the overarching aim, that we never forget.” 

In addition to appointing a Museum Development Manager who will take the project forward, a new trustee has also been appointed, Katherine Barnett, the manager of Chartwell, the National Trust property and Sir Winston Churchill’s home. 

Katherine Barnett said, “Plans to create the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum to keep the memory of the Battle of Britain alive, as well as preserve the Chapel, are incredibly important. I am delighted to have been invited to join its team of Trustees. Away from my role at Chartwell I will look forward to working to safeguard the legacy of Biggin Hill, and ensure that the bravery and sacrifice of ‘The Few’ is never forgotten.” 

A fundraising appeal is now underway, which follows the announcement in the Budget in March when £1 million was pledged to safeguard the long term future of St George’s Chapel at Biggin Hill through the building of a new museum at the site. The fundraising target is £1.5 million, in addition to money from the Council and the Government, to ensure a sustainable future for the site. 

Details about how to support the appeal and make donations are available by e- mailing community.development@bromley.gov.uk with all donations received going directly to the museum. 

Further information about the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum is available on the Council’s website www.bromley.gov.uk/memorialmuseum.

ENDS

Editor’s notes

  • Statements of significance have been undertaken for both the Chapel and the dispersal hut on the airfield, with the buildings, and their significant heritage features, studied. The study by Alan Baxter Associates, specialists in heritage conservation, recommended that if the Chapel building is expanded to host museum exhibitions and visitor facilities, the building should be extended on the north side, which is a 1980s extension of the original building.
  • In addition, Barker Langham has been appointed to produce an interpretation plan. This plan will help identify the exhibition stories and the artefacts for display. They will be carrying out extensive research and as part of this in to the history of the site, the collections of other museums, and different types of visitors and museum audiences. 
  • Katherine Barnett works for the National Trust as House and Collections Manager for the Chartwell Portfolio which is made up of Churchill’s family home Chartwell, Quebec House and Emmetts Garden. 
  • For media enquiries, please contact Andrew Rogers, Communications Executive, on 020 8461 7670 or email andrew.rogers@bromley.gov.uk