Code breaking, actresses, replica spitfires and a 1940s-inspired menu… just what you need to tell the story of a house that was so important to the British WWII war effort, its former purpose as a listening station had been hidden away for almost 80 years.
We love houses which have (and sometimes hide) a great story so we couldn’t resist one which also involved visits from Churchill and Eisenhower and a front-row seat with the Battle of Britain being played out in the skies above Folkestone.
Over the summer we took the time to research more about the history of Abbots Cliff House, now a Bloom Stays holiday let. Led initially by a few clues from Steve, the current owner of Abbots Cliff, our search for the story started with a relatively new book written by Pat Owtram. ‘Codebreaking Sisters’ (2020) is Pat’s own story of her time at Abbots Cliff during WWII. Then called HMS Lynx, she was stationed there as a WREN and her role was to intercept enemy messages coming from France, just a short(ish) distance away.
As she described her time so vividly in the book, we took her story and turned it into a mini script. We hired Ruby Stone to be ‘Pat’ in the story and perform her part to an audience of media and other owners and then asked the Britain of Britain Memorial Trust and chiefly, Jules Gomez, their site manager to give our audience the context around the Battle of Britain in 1940, the memorial and their work in preserving the memory of ‘The Few’ who fought so bravely.
Pat Owtram is now 100 years old and we thoroughly recommend ‘Codebreaking Sisters’ as a great account of her time throughout the war years. She has even revisited Abbots Cliff a few years ago to relive her memories there and we’re sure she would have been thrilled to see Ruby’s short performance as herself almost 80 years ago.
Our final wartime nod to Abbots Cliff’s position high up on the cliffs above Folkestone was The replica Spitfire outside as a fantastic prop (although at 30ft in length, it wasn’t highly manoeuvrable) and a made for a memorable photo prop.
We wanted to thank our new friends at the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust for helping us out and if you’re on the Kent Coast and looking to learn more about our collective debt to ‘The Few’ there’s no better place to do so.