The Battle of Britain Memorial, Folkestone
Well worth a visit and appropriate for all ages, not only is this (dare we say it!) educational, but also lots of fun and an important visit we recommend for the whole family...
Don’t be misled by the name. This may be a memorial, but it’s also a great place for a day out with the family, combining hands-on fun and learning with plenty of things to see and do, together with a café with great views of the French coast.
The National Memorial to the Few, in Kent, is dedicated to the heroic deeds of the men who fought the Battle of Britain (10 July to 31 October, 1940). Its clifftop home is open 365 days a year, while the car park, shop, cafe and Scramble Experience are open 10am to 4pm (Oct-Feb) and 10am to 5pm (Mar-Sept).
There are several key areas of historical interest, including The Memorial, The Wing and the Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall. Children (of all ages!) will also love the replica aircraft and The Scramble Experience.
THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL TO THE FEW
You cannot fail to be impressed and moved by the iconic statue of the seated airman looking out to sea. Do visit in person to find out the interesting background, but here is a brief Muddy history to give you a taster! The central statue was carved by Harry Gray of the Carving Workshop in Cambridge.
He later revealed that after being asked by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust to create the focal point of the site, he settled on the idea of a pilot but found it difficult to come up with a design he was happy with. Then one day, during a break, Harry’s trainee sat down and adopted a contemplative pose that provided the sculptor with the inspiration that had previously eluded him.
On 9 July 1993, Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother flew in by helicopter to perform the official unveiling ceremony in wet and windy conditions that were again in evidence when her daughter, Her Majesty The Queen, unveiled The Wing on 26 March, 2015. There is a story that in 1993 the helicopter pilot suggested that they should turn back because conditions were so poor. The Queen Mother is reported to have said: “My boys never turned back; we will carry on”.
The Wing is the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust’s visitor centre at the Capel-le-Ferne home of the National Memorial to the Few. The eye-catching building was designed in the shape of a Spitfire wing and is not a museum but home to The Scramble Experience.
We love this exciting, interactive attraction that uses audio-visual effects, a video wall and other special techniques to show something of what the Few experienced in the summer and early autumn of 1940. We can guarantee your family will enjoy the chance to shoot down enemy aircraft on the big screen from the seat of a mock-up Hurricane!
Visitors can also learn more about the heroism and sacrifice of those who took to the skies in the Battle of Britain in The Wing, which is also home to a dedicated classroom area used for school visits and available for hire by businesses at other times. Fans of wartime aircraft will also be delighted by the replica Hawker Hurricane Mk l and Supermarine Spitfire, now joined by a full-size sculpture of a crashed Ju87 Stuka crafted from stainless steel by a German artist.
If you are in need of a little refreshment then we do recommend you visit the Cockpit Cafe. It features an open balcony with breathtaking views across the Channel to France, from where the Luftwaffe would have appeared in 1940. There is a delicious range of sandwiches, snacks, ice creams, cakes and hot and cold drinks. Of course no trip would be complete without a little shop, and The Wing offers a fabulous selection of books, memorabilia and souvenirs.
Do visit The Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall. This is named in tribute to the late Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris, a Hurricane fighter pilot in 1940. He was the first President of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and, together with Lady Foxley-Norris, provided the funds that allowed the wall to go ahead.
A moving tribute, the wall contains the names of all those aircrew known to have flown at least one sortie with an accredited squadron or unit of the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain in 1940, including those who survived the war and, in some cases, only left us in recent years.
At the left hand end of the wall is a brick plinth inset with an inscribed poem by veteran William Walker AE, who died in October 2012 at the age of 99.
The Battle of Britain memorial has a programme of fantastic events. Do keep an eye on their events page. Forthcoming events include photography workshops, car shows (petrol heads will enjoy the Rolls Royce, Caterham and Lotus club events) lectures and talks.
Folkestone, CT18 7JJ
+44 (0)1303 249292
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