Bentley Priory

Bentley Priory is an eighteenth to nineteenth century stately home and deer park in Stanmore on the northern edge of the Greater London area in the London Borough of Harrow.

It was originally a medieval priory or cell of Augustinian Canons in Harrow Weald, then in Middlesex. There are no remains of the original priory, but it probably stood near Priory House, off Clamp Hill.

In 1775, Sir John Soane designed a large mansion house north of the original priory, called Bentley Priory, for the wealthy businessman James Duberley. This was added to throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by various owners. It was significantly extended in 1788, again by Sir John Soane, for John Hamilton, 1st Marquess of Abercorn. The priory was the final home of the Dowager Queen Adelaide, queen consort of William IV, before her death there in 1849. It subsequently served as a hotel and girls’ school before being acquired by the Royal Air Force in 1926.

In the Second World War, Bentley Priory was the headquarters of RAF Fighter Command, and it remained in RAF hands in various roles until 2008.

It became famous as the headquarters of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain and the Second World War. The RAF Bentley Priory site includes a Grade II* listed Officers’ Mess and Italian Gardens.

The service was drastically reorganized with the creation of Bomber, Coastal, Fighter and Training Command. The existing ADGB was dissolved and RAF Fighter Command emerged on 14 July 1936. It left Hillingdon House, at RAF Uxbridge on this date and moved to Bentley Priory with its first Air Officer Commanding Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding. Fighter Command Headquarters remained at the Priory until its merger with the other operational commands in 1968.

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