As promised the petition of 21,500 signatures was re-presented to the three Secretaries of State and the London Borough of Bromley after Remembrance Day 2017. Signatories will be informed of any responses received and the petition remains open for more signatures please. The intention is to re-present again, depending on the responses received.
To: The Secretaries of State for the Departments for Culture Media and Sport, for Communities and Local Government, and for Defence.
Protect Biggin Hill St George's RAF Chapel of Remembrance
Stop the part demolition of this iconic Grade II Listed Chapel, built by Sir Winston Churchill in 1951 as a permanent memorial to the 454 fallen airmen from Great Britain, the Dominions and Allied Countries - 'His Boys' - who won the Battle of Britain and flew from Biggin Hill and associated airfields throughout World War 2.
Why is this important?
Please click here to see BBC TV News reports: www.downe-kent.org.uk When you arrive at the Downe Village website scroll down to find two news reports.
The picture above was taken on the 8th April 2018, ALL the trees and shrubs at the front of the Chapel, many planted by relatives in the memory of deceased RAF servicemen, had just been cut down. The Irish Yews, flanking the St George's Battle of Britain Window, planted shortly after the Chapel was opened in 1951 and stipulated by the London Borough of Bromley's own Conservation consultants, Donald Insall: 'to remain' have been totally cut down. So has the magnificent wild cherry that was on the left of the picture and was in full bloom. Yews are traditionally associated with churches and chapels and the Irish Yew is a special variety, originating from only two trees found in Ireland in the 1700s, has a neat upright growth, and can only be propagated from cuttings! The 'Museum/Visitors Centre' replacing the now demolished beautiful, large (circa 70 square metres) Grade II Listed Vestry, which housed the Air Crew Association stained glass window, can be seen being built on the left of the picture. As an Airfield Museum this new building is wholly inadequate and even official bodies are now describing it as just a 'Visitors Centre'. To think, this at Biggin Hill, the most famous RAF Station in the world!
WE STILL DESPERATELY NEED YOUR SIGNATURES AND SUPPORT AS WE INTEND TO RESUBMIT THE PETITION AT REGULAR INTERVALS. This is to register people's absolute disgust at the destruction of the Vestry and trees and our continuing opposition to the awful BHMM design of the long awaited Museum building that is to replace it, ignoring a more popular alternative. The plan also requires change of use of part of the Nave (the St George's Room) to provide additional space for the new museum, the overall design of which the vast majority of genuinely concerned people find appalling - an ultra modern, stark, flat-roofed structure enveloping two sides of the Chapel. Please email for more pictures and additional information by clicking on my name, top left of screen.
This inappropriate, unpopular scheme is being financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund to the tune of nearly £2million. Money that should be re-directed to a more sympathetic design 'worthy' of Biggin Hill, 'The Strongest Link' (Station Motto).
Under these proposals, visitors to the Chapel will no longer be able to view the St George's Room with its commemorative stained glass windows, including the St George's Battle of Britain Memorial Window, without paying the predicted museum charge of £7.50.
People have waited over thirty years for a Museum at Biggin Hill, but the situation is incredible because there is an existing highly praised approved design, by the Biggin Hill Battle of Britain Supporters Club, which in no way affects the Chapel, but could provide the same level of support and with vastly superior facilities at lower predicted cost. Importantly it did not require the closure of the Chapel during the building works.
The new Council design has required the closure of the Chapel to visitors, also for services and the funerals of Veterans for over a year whilst building works take place. This was highlighted to great effect at the last St George's Day Service, when a 95 year old RAF Veteran, proudly wearing his Air Crew Association tie, rose to his feet and announced his days were numbered and he wanted his funeral to be in the Chapel and his ashes placed in the Garden of Remembrance. But he could not die to order, how could they consider closing the Chapel for over a year?!
Since starting this petition, the previously stated total closure of the Garden of Remembrance on Health and Safety grounds has been reviewed.
Other than those in the immediate locality of Biggin Hill, the many other interested parties, including ex-RAF personnel, and relatives worldwide of those commemorated, remain in ignorance of these distressing plans!
My previous advice to visit the Chapel is no longer relevant as the London Borough of Bromley has now CLOSED THE CHAPEL TO VISITORS. People arriving from a distance, perhaps even from overseas, will find the gates chained and the site screened from the road. Please direct your comments on the closure and the hideous design of the Museum to the Trust's email address: email@example.com. But don't forget to sign the petition and please encourage your friends also.