Bletchley Park

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Bletchley Park, also known as Station X, is an estate located in the town of Bletchley, in Buckinghamshire now part of Milton Keynes, England. During World War II, Bletchley Park was the location of the United Kingdom's main codebreaking establishment. Codes and ciphers of several Axis countries were deciphered there, most famously the German Enigma. The high-level intelligence produced by Bletchley Park, codenamed Ultra, is frequently credited with aiding the Allied war effort and shortening the war, although Ultra's effect on the actual outcome of WWII is debated.

Bletchley Park is now a museum and is open to the public.[1]

Early history

The lands of the Bletchley Park estate were formerly part of the Manor of Eaton, included in the Domesday Book in 1086. Browne Willis built a mansion in 1711, but this was pulled down by Thomas Harrison, who had acquired the property in 1793. The estate was first known as Bletchley Park during the ownership of Samuel Lipscombe Seckham, who purchased it in 1877. The estate was sold on[4 June, 1883 to Sir Herbert Samuel Leon (1850 - 1926), a financier and Liberal Party Member of Parliament. Leon expanded the existing farmhouse into the present mansion.

The architectural style is a mixture of Victorian Gothic, Tudor and Dutch Baroque architecture and was the subject of much bemused comment from those who worked there, or visited, during World War II. Leon's estate covered 581 acres, of which Bletchley Park occupied about 55 acres. Leon's wife, Fanny, died in 1937,Valentin Foss "Bletchley Park" and in 1938 the site was sold to a builder, who was about to demolish the mansion and build a housing estate. Just in time, Admiral Sir Hugh Sinclair, (Director of Naval Intelligence, head of MI6 and founder of the Government Code and Cypher School) bought the site with his own money (£7,500), having failed to persuade any government department to pay for it. The fact that Sinclair, and not the Government, owned the site was not widely known until 1991 when the site was nearly sold for redevelopment. The first government visitors to Bletchley Park described themselves as Captain Ridley's shooting party.

The estate was conveniently located on the "Varsity Line" (now largely closed) between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which supplied many of the codebreakers, at Bletchley with the main West Coast railway line from London. It was also chosen for its proximity to a major road A5 to London and to a route for telephone trunk lines.