We’ve stopped just below Oxford to visit with friends who’ve been camping in the vicinity while attending our favourite British craft festival, Art In Action, which I wrote about years ago for Canadian Family magazine.
Out past High Wycombe we visit Hughenden Manor, a National Trust property that was once the home of Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Hughenden is the perfect day out—a stately manor steeped in political and literary history (when not running the country, Disraeli was a popular novelist), a country park with formal gardens, and a WWII site whose history turns out to be linked to my own.
During the war Hughenden served as the centre for Bomber Command’s cartography section, where aerial photographs of targests in occupied Europe were turned into maps for Allied bombing raids. A tour guide takes us down to the Ice House, a vault set into the side of a wooded bank. This is where maps hand drawn and painted by women artists in Hughenden’s bright and airy parlours were photographed and where negatives were made for the maps that navigators would use on the raids. Inside the Ice House, our guide holds up one of the maps made here. It’s for the raid on Hitler’s compound at Berchtesgaden in April 1945. The hair goes up on the back of my neck. My father flew that operation. I’m looking at the very map he, as a navigator, would have used.