Bentley Priory, Harrow
Grade II* listed mansion with fascinating military history has been saved for future generations.
Bentley Priory is a substantial Grade II* listed mansion, built in 1766 and significantly extended in 1788 by Sir John Soane and Sidney Smirke. It was acquired by the Royal Air Force in 1926 and was the base from which the Battle of Britain was planned under the leadership of Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding. The physical fabric and history of the site are of international importance.
The RAF gave up the site as part of a widespread consolidation of their London estate in 2007, and we were appointed as project adviser for the heritage elements of the development scheme. We led the steering group to develop a sustainable future for Bentley Priory. We facilitated an agreement between the initial developer (St Modwen), which was developing luxury housing on the site, and the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust (BBT), which aimed to establish a museum within the mansion.
Our work was key in identifying solutions to allow both elements to co-exist. This included resolving practical issues onsite and supporting the negotiations on the planning and legal structure to secure the future of the museum. We also helped devise a viable business plan for the BBT and assisted in securing over £11m in funding from the developer and making initial applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Bentley Priory Museum was formally opened by TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall at a ceremony on the afternoon on 12th September 2013.
With our unique mix of heritage and property skills and by facilitating a partnership between the BBT and the developers, we helped the BBT secure an outcome that stands as a model for other heritage projects.
A film highlighting PRT's work to restore Bentley Priory can be found here.