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?
If you are new to the tragedy that has occurred at the RAF Memorial Chapel, there are links to two earlier BBC TV News reports further down the page which will quickly bring you up to speed.
To read the latest letter exchanges between ourselves and Bromley Council / BHMM Trust, please click here and scroll down to above the St Christopher's Hospice 'RAF Chapel' Christmas Card :
The picture above was taken during October 2018 in the run-up to Remembrance Day. ALL the trees and shrubs at the front of the Chapel, many planted by relatives in the memory of deceased RAF servicemen, have been cut down. The lovely large Vestry has been demolished and replaced by the ugly white 'Visitors Centre' which locally is being referred to as the Biggin Hill Memorial Monstrosity (BHMM). Even 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: 'to remain' have been totally cut down. So has the magnificent wild cherry that was in front of the Vestry 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!
In place of the now demolished, beautiful, large (circa 70 square metre) Grade II Listed Vestry, which housed the Aircrew Association stained glass window, the Council's 'Museum/Visitors Centre' (BHMM) despite appearing unfinished, is in fact externally complete!! In addition to being an ugly and inappropriate design, as an Airfield Museum this new building is wholly inadequate (requiring take-over of the St George's Room , part of the rear of the original Chapel) and even official bodies are now describing it as just a 'Visitors Centre'. To think, this at Biggin Hill, the 'Strongest Link' (Station Motto) and the most famous RAF Station in the world!
WE STILL DESPERATELY NEED YOUR SIGNATURES TO REGISTER THE PUBLIC'S DISGUST AT WHAT HAS ALREADY OCCURRED AND TO FIGHT ANY FURTHER INDIGNITIES BEING INFLICTED ON OUR BIGGIN HILL RAF MEMORIAL CHAPEL. IMPORTANTLY IN ADDITION, TO SUPPORT THE 'FRIENDS OF THE CHAPEL' IN THEIR STRUGGLE TO MAINTAIN SERVICES AND KEEP THE CHAPEL AN ACTIVE 'LIVING CHURCH'.
Please click on my name at top of page for further information and contact details for the 'Friends.'
This inappropriate, unpopular scheme is being financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund to the tune of nearly £2 million, money that should have been re-directed to the more sympathetic scheme 'worthy' of Biggin Hill, as proposed by the Biggin HiIl Battle of Britain Supporters Club. In fact the Council scheme has funding of £5.3 million, but unbelieveably claim this is still not enough and a further £600k is required to complete the project!
Under the current Council proposals, visitors to the Chapel will no longer be able to view the St George's Room (part of the Nave) 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 this Museum at Biggin Hill. The situation is ridiculous because the highly praised approved design, by the Biggin Hill Battle of Britain Supporters Club, which in no way would have affected the Chapel, but provided the same level of support and with vastly superior facilities, could have been built at lower predicted cost. Also importantly it would not have required the closure of the Chapel during the building works.
Whereas the 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 has taken place. This situation was highlighted to great effect at the last St George's Day Service, when a 95 year old RAF Veteran, proudly wearing his Aircrew 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 and subsequently it has been opened on a few occasions.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. But please don't forget to still sign the petition and please encourage your friends to do similar.