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Tony Grist

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Hall Place, Bexley [Mar. 6th, 2015|10:08 am]
Tony Grist
Hall Place is an old house- half Tudor, half 17th century- in the London Borough of Bexley, with a large garden and the A2 roaring past it on its southern side. During the Second World War it housed a unit of GIs whose very secret job it was to intercept German messages and sent them up the road to Bletchley Park to  be decoded by Alan Turing and his crew.  There was an exhibition about the GIs on the first floor- with bunks and desks and uniforms and photos and a little film- called Welcome to Britain- made by the Ministry of Information in 1944- as a "gift" for the Americans, which was shown to the troops before they were turned loose on British streets, advising them on pub etiquette and rationing (if you're invited into a British home don't put three teaspoons of sugar in your tea) and how it was inadvisable to laugh at Scottish soldiers in kilts and telling them that they might have to rub shoulders with black people because railway carriages were unsegregated.

Going back a bit, Hall Place (or whatever house occupied the site earlier) is where the Black Prince wooed his future wife- and his ghost has been seen, clanking about in full armour. There's a spectacular- if naive- 17th century plasterwork ceiling and some wonderfully ingenious topiary work in the garden.

Oh, and I know this won't impress Londoners but it was a first for me, we saw a couple of green parakeets flying wild.

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From: (Anonymous)
2015-03-06 10:40 am (UTC)
Great summing up and photos!
Jenny x
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-03-06 04:29 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2015-03-06 11:09 am (UTC)
I think I've been there - is it the place where they used to keep a pet lemur?

I see parakeets a lot, but it still feels exciting to have something so exotic screeching around south London. Like something out of a J. G. Ballard novel.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-03-06 04:36 pm (UTC)
I didn't see any sign of lemurs- but there's a hothouse with koi carp and terrapins and a separate establishment that has a butterfly house.
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From: artkouros
2015-03-06 01:35 pm (UTC)
That's a nice looking mix of styles.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-03-06 04:37 pm (UTC)
Yes, I like houses that have grown and adapted over centuries.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2015-03-06 02:09 pm (UTC)
My mother also worked at a listening station during the war, but she was based near Harrogate, listening from signals in the North Sea. Unfortunately, the veil of secrecy was not lifted until 2009, long after my mum had died, but she would have been a contemporary of the lady mentioned here and she also trained in the Isle of Man.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-03-06 04:39 pm (UTC)
Why on earth did they keep it a secret for so long?
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