Wardown House Museum & Gallery

Made a visit to Wardown House Museum and Gallery, which has just re-opened after an extensive refurbishment.

The museum contains several galleries dealing with the history of Wardown House and the development of Luton (including an exhibition of several hats)

The Hertfordshire & Bedfordshire Regimental Museum, contained within the house, covers the history of the Bedforshire Regiment through its merger with the Hertfordshire Regiment after the First World War, and its present day formation as part of the Royal Anglian Regiment (D Company, 2nd Battalion).

The house is contained in a spacious park with plenty of trees, and worth a visit in its own right.

Admission to Wardown House Museum and Gallery is free and well worth a visit.

For more information, I recommend the web site http://www.lutonculture.com/wardown-house/wardown-house/


Watford Museum

Made an enjoyable visit to Watford Museum.

A small museum containing several galleries devoted to various aspects of Watford’s history. There are galleries with exhibits detailing the impact of printing, brewing, the two world wars and the local football on Watford’s development. The museum’s collection includes some excellent paintings, including Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.

The sections dealing with Watford in the two world wars was well displayed and contained several items of local interest. It was with Watford’s Home Guard that Jimmy Perry served, and his experiences were used by Jimmy Perry and David Croft to create the BBC TV series “Dad’s Army”.

Well worth visiting and free admission.

For more information I recommend Watford Museum’s web site at http://www.watfordmuseum.org.uk/



National Army Museum

Just visited the National Army Museum in London, located on Royal Hospital Road, next to the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

The National Army Museum reopened on 30 March 2017, after a three year closure when the old museum was completely rebuilt. The museum is the UK’s national museum for the British Army.

Since its re-opening the history of the Army is explained through galleries dedicated to a particular theme (instead of having exhibitions on set historical periods). The gallery themes are Soldier, Army, Society, Battle and Insight.

I was disappointed that both the 2nd Afghan and the 2nd Anglo-South African wars were not covered in greater detail, as they were both extremely important in several fields covered by the various gallery themes, such as forcing the adoption of new tactics in dealing with a new enemy’s style of fighting.

Also the National Army Museum’s large collection of Victoria Cross (VC) medals could have been used in themed galleries. Whilst there are some VCs displayed in some of the cabinets, there are some notable VCs missing such as those awarded to Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, and his son Frederick Roberts; one of three Father and Son VC recipients.

I was very pleased with the display of some of the museum’s large collection of paintings, including some created in more recent conflicts such as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Stevenage Museum

Made a visit to Stevenage Museum, which has free admission. Well organised displays which illustrate the history of Stevenage from Roman times up to the present day. The museum also has a small exhibition about Edward Gordon Craig, who was born in Stevenage on 16 January 1872, the illegitimate son of architect Edward Godwin and actress Ellen Terry.
The special exhibition contains examples of Craig’s pioneering work as a modernist theatre practitioner.

For more information on the Craig exhibition which runs until 3 June 2017, visit the museum’s site at www.stevenage.gov.uk/about-stevenage/museum/

More information on the life and work of Edward Gordon Craig, can be found at www.edwardgordoncraig.co.uk

SOE Memorial in London

On the south bank of the river Thames, on Albert Embankment, on the opposite side of the road to Lambeth Palace is a memorial to the Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents.

The memorial consits of a bust of Violette Szabo on a stone plinth. The front panel contains the following text.

“The Special Operations Executives was secretly formed for the purpose of recruiting agents, men and women of many nationalities, who would volunteer to continue the fight for freedom, by performing acts of sabotage in countries occupied by the enemy during the Second World War. This monument is in honour of all courageous SOE agents: those who did survive and those who did not survive their perilous missions. Their services were beyond the call of duty. In the pages of history their names are carved with pride.”

Violette Szabo is one of four women to have been directly awarded the George Cross for gallantry. My article about the four women who have been awarded the George Cross can be found at http://www.stephen-stratford.com/women_gcs.htm

My article about agents awarded the George Cross can be found at http://www.stephen-stratford.com/agentgcs.htm

Royal Air Force Museum

On 1 March 2017, St. David’s Day, I made a visit to the Royal Air Force Museum’s Hendon location.

Major works at the RAF Museum.

As can be seem from the photograph, the car park has all but disappeared.

The museum’s advice, stated on their web site, strongly recommends public transport. I took the No. 303 bus from Mill Hill Broadway rail station.

Once you arrive at the main entrance you are then directed along a well-marked walkway. The Echo-Alpha-Tango Restaurant has been demolished and replaced with an expanded Wessex Cafe (in its usual place). The Battle of Britain hanger, which also contained the Sunderland flying-boat, is closed and its aircraft distributed throughout the remaining buildings; except the Sunderland which is too big to move. It was covered in orange plastic sheeting, while remaining in the hanger.

All the work is being done, to provide new and expanded facilities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Air Force, which is 1st April 2018.

It’s still an excellent museum and well worth visiting.

For more information, I recommend the museum’s centenary site: http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/centenary-programme/raf-centenary-programme-news.aspx