I promised to tell you what happened to the Buckinghamshire shack from the Domesday Book which was a Tudor farmhouse, and a Georgian hunting residence, and Disraeli’s outlandish gothic mansion.
We left Hughenden when the prime minister left it: he died in 1881 and left the place to his nephew. And his nephew left it, in 1931, to the Disraeli Society.
And then came War. And war can commandeer where it will.
The war effort claimed Hughenden, and it changed its name. It wore a cloak of secrecy, and became codenamed Hillside.
Its proximity to Bomber Command was one of its key strengths. In 1941 a new broom was sweeping through bomber command. Arthur Harris, its new commander, knew that to win this conflict there must be precise maps of the targets planes must reach.
And nothing like that existed. German map making had deliberately ceased in 1931, and there were no maps of enemy territory that were worth the paper they were printed on.
So: a fleet of mosquitoes took off from Bomber Command, and took all the pictures that were needed.
Meanwhile, the word had gone out for all the gifted mapmakers in the land to join up and head to Hillside. And they set about making the maps which would aid bomber command through the darkest days of the Second World War. Each room had its function; a fine drawing-room became a bare drawing office with 20 tables, each staffed with an RAF operative.
It was a happy ship. With 100 staff, Hillside even had its own newspaper. It had a university-campus feel, and the pictures tell many stories. You would never guess these faces are intricately involved in plans to find and destroy Adolf Hitler’s secret bunker, Eagle’s Nest, at Berchtesgaden.
And no-one knew; not all this time, such was the veil of secrecy which surrounded the place just outside High Wycombe. In 2005, the National Trust, who had taken it over after the war in 1947, asked for people with memories of Hughenden to come forward, and were not altogether prepared when a cartographer stepped out of the shadows and said: yes, I was here during the war.
And today, I shall leave you to browse photographs of how it was at Hillside, the former Tudor-Farmhouse-come-Georgian-hunting-lodge-come-poltician’s-haunt; in its days as a veritable den of cartography.