Old Sarum supporting Dowding memoirs and Bentley Priory Museum

The man who saved both Salisbury’s historic Old Sarum Airfield and Prestwick International Airport and from closure has been instrumental in bringing to life important notes from one of Britain’s most famous WW2 historical figures, Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding.

Dowding was appointed as the Commander in Chief of RAF Fighter Command in 1936 and is widely credited with playing the crucial role in Britain’s defence against a German invasion through the winning of the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Matthew Hudson was an initial contributor to the formation and funding of a charity to save Bentley Priory, which was the headquarters of RAF Fighter Command during WW2. The MOD had planned to redevelop the entire Bentley Priory site into new luxury homes but a small group led by Alan Curtis OBE wished to save the main building and convert it into a dedicated RAF museum and memorial to those who served. When Bentley Priory was still slated for demolition, Mr Hudson was given a copy of a set of notes which had been prepared by Lord Dowding himself in 1956 to assist his authorised biographer.

As events transpired the charity was successful at raising the necessary funds to save Bentley Priory and make it into the museum that still operates today. The other main Old Sarum Airfield benefactor, Grenville Hodge, at the time a leading executive of British Aerospace, was responsible for BAe making an important contribution to the successful funding effort. The irreplaceable heritage of Bentley Priory was saved and put on firm financial ground.

The memoirs are doing well and are now available from the Bentley Priory online book store, where recently, Sir Donald Spiers and publishing consultant Jim Buckley, presented Bentley Priory Experience Manager Jackie Goetcherian with a new batch of copies.

Pictured above: Bentley Priory Experience Manager Jackie Goetcherian (left) is presented with a copy of “The Dowding Papers” by Sir Donald Spiers (centre) and publishing consultant Jim Buckley (right), in the grounds of the Bentley Priory Museum.

The book is available now from the Bentley Priory online shop.

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