Record Details

NHER Number:44346
Type of record:Monument
Name:Bylaugh Hall World War Two military headquarters

Summary

The site of a World War Two military headquarters at Bylaugh Hall. The Hall was used as a headquarters of the RAF 2 (Bomber) Group Command from (1943-4) and subsequently it became the RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group headquarters, the latter involved in clandestine work, radar jamming (1944-5). Prior to this the hall had been requisitioned as a base for the 18th Division (1940-1) and as accommodation for aircrew from Swanton Morley airfield (NHER 2830) from (1941-3). The area around the Hall (NHER 3006) retains a large number of military buildings, nissens and air raid shelters in various states of ruination. Some at least appear to be well preserved and a few are probably converted and still in use. A grass airstrip was constructed within the grounds, but its location remains unknown.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 03570 18670
Map Sheet:TG01NW
Parish:BYLAUGH, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

April 2006.
The area around the Hall (NHER 3006) retains a large number of military buildings in various states of ruination. Some at least appear to be well preserved and a few are probably converted and still in use. From 1941 to 1943, aircrew from Swanton Morley airfield [NHER 2830] were accommodated here. In 1943 the Hall itself and the buildings around it were the RAF 2 (Bomber) Group HQ, and from 1944-45 the RAF 100 (Bomber Support) Group HQ, the latter involved in clandestine work, radar jamming, etc. A grass airstrip was constructed within the grounds, but its location remains unknown.
Information from (S1).
D. Gurney (NLA), 18 April 2006.

A further press article recounts memories of being stationed at Bylaugh Hall (S2).
H. Hamilton (NLA), 17 January 2008.

The site has been extended to the southwest and the central grid reference has been altered from TG 03537 18746 to TG 0357 1867.

May 2008. Norfolk NMP.
The site of the World War Two military headquarters at Bylaugh Hall (NHER 3006) is visible on aerial photographs (S4-S5). The site is centred on TG 0357 1867. The aerial photographs clearly show the main above ground structural components of the site, although it is clear from the air raid shelters, see below, that there are potentially significant sub-surface structures at the site, some of which may not have been detectable from the aerial photographs.

First hand accounts, along with maps of defences, reveal that numerous defences and military features existed within Bylaugh Park and the surrounding area in the earlier part of the war, when the Hall and Park were used by the 292 Company of Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) in 1940-1. These included slit trenches, road blocks and guard posts (S2). Very little trace of these earlier defences are visible on the aerial photographs, which date to 1946. This is likely to be due to the defences having been removed in the intervening period. The only possible remains of defences, small square or rectangular structures, 1-15m across, that were possibly visible on the aerial photographs are located alongside a boundary to the south of the hall at TG 0342 1855. The possible remains of a slit trench may be visible as a soilmark in 1946 (S4-S5). A light coloured, narrow linear feature is visible running from TG 0347 1854 to TG 0356 1839. Whilst it is possible that this represents an infilled trench, it seems likely that this feature relates to a drain or pipeline. There is also no sign of the grass airstrip that is referred to having been present within the Park (S1). The heathland to the north of the park is likely to have been used by the military during the period of requisition of the hall and park. However no definite traces of fieldworks and earthworks relating to training activities were identified on the aerial photographs, although see NHER 50916 for possible activity to the north.

The main structural components of the military headquarters that are clearly visible on aerial photographs (S4-S5) are the air raid shelters, nissen huts and other larger structures associated with the later phases of the site. The vast majority of these structures remain on the ground and are marked on the Ordnance Survey maps. Consequently no detailed mapping of the structures was undertaken as part of the NMP project. On-site assessment of the actual standing structures, combined with consulting the vertical aerial photographs should be undertaken for any additional interpretation of this site.

The site appears to be split into several clusters of buildings, the majority of which are located around the periphery of the main hall buildings, in particular within the edges of the wooded belts surrounding the hall and gardens. This positioning would have helped to camouflage the headquarters and camp from aerial attack and enemy reconnaissance. One section of the site is located to the southwest of the main group of buildings and is located in a more open situation next to the road, centred on TG 0325 1855. The majority of the group of buildings, consisting of nissens and pitched-roof rectangular structures and air raid shelters, still survive to some degree and are marked on the Ordnance Survey mapping. The aerial photographs indicate that a further air raid shelter (TG 0328 1851) and a square flat-roofed structure (TG 0332 1851) no longer survive above ground.

The majority of the main structural components of the site are located to the east and southeast of the hall. The larger structures, presumably representing the main operational or communally used buildings of the site, still exist as extant structures and are marked on the map. The main focus is at TG 0367 1861. This usage is suggested by the size of the structures and the fact that clusters of air raid shelters surround them. Surrounding these larger buildings are several more dispersed areas of huts, nissens and air raid shelters, which can be roughly divided into five groups, the extent of which have been defined on the NMP mapping layer.

The western group is located around the periphery of a woodland belt, the main structures that are clearly visible is a group of nissens and air raid shelters at TG 0339 1874. It is probable that further structures existing within the woodland, a ground survey may reveal further structural components not visible on the aerial photographs. The tree cover to the east is less dense and traces of additional structures can perhaps be detected within the trees, in addition to the more clearly visible nissens and air raid shelters located on the eastern edge of the wood belt.

To the north of the main area of military buildings is a square tower at TG 0351 1902. It is not clear whether this was a military observation tower, although the fact that it is not marked on any historic maps would possible suggest that it is not a post medieval park feature. The structure still survives and an inspection of the structure would probably reveal clues to its function. A rectangular structure, that no loner survives, was originally located next to the tower
S. Massey (NMP), 06 May 2008.

Monument Types

  • TOWER (Unknown date)
  • AIR RAID SHELTER (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • AIRFIELD (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • GROUP HEADQUARTERS (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • GUN EMPLACEMENT? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • HUT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY BUILDING (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY BUILDING (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY BUILDING (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY HEADQUARTERS (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • NISSEN HUT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • SLIT TRENCH? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • STRUCTURE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • TOWER (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD?)
  • WATCH TOWER? (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S1>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1999. 20 September.
<S2>Newspaper Article: 1999. Eastern Daily Press. 27 September. 27 September.
<S3>Correspondence: Hoskins, F.. 1999. Letter: Original Defence Plans of Bylaugh Hall. 12 October.
<S4>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1428 3123-4 16-APR-1946 (NMR).
<S5>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1427 3225-6 16-APR-1946 (NHER TG 0318A, TG 0319A).

Related records

3006Related to: Bylaugh Hall (Building)
2830Related to: Swanton Morley Airfield (Monument)

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