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TOPIC: Hylands House / Park (Chelmsford)

Hylands House / Park (Chelmsford) 01 Jul 2015 22:43 #1

  • REF
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An email I have received from a friend, is anyone able to help out?

I've had an inquiry from a Mr D... K...... regarding a supposed airstrip which was flying SAS/SOE people to occupied Europe on Hylands Park, Chelmsford.

Two Lysanders were allegedly parked among the trees and the strip was in the vicinity of Hylands House, itself apparently the HQ of an SAS unit.


Can anyone please supply any further information?

Thanks

Rich

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Hylands House / Park (Chelmsford) 02 Jul 2015 00:12 #2

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Richard Flagg;161741 wrote: An email I have received from a friend, is anyone able to help out?

Can anyone please supply any further information?

Thanks

Rich


Wiki to the rescue.

In 1920, Hylands was sold to a syndicate of local gentlemen, but only two years later it was purchased by John Hanbury. Like Arthur Pryor, John was chairman of the brewers Truman's. However, John Hanbury died suddenly in 1923 before taking occupation of Hylands. Christine was later left alone when Jock became one of the first pilots to die in the Second World War in a flying accident. Christine Hanbury made great changes to the grounds, including a lawn tennis court, rhododendron borders and a private area in the gardens dedicated to the memory of her husband and son. During World War II, the estate was the site for a German Prisoner of War Camp, and the house was used by the SAS as their headquarters.

World War II

As the Gooch family had done during World War I, Christine Hanbury opened the Estate to local residents and organisations, in particular the Red Cross. During the War, Hylands Estate was the site for a German Prisoner of War camp and a wireless command post for the 6th Anti-Aircraft Division.

In 1944, the newly formed SAS (Special Air Services) used Hylands House as their Headquarters. Mrs Hanbury cheerfully accepted their presence and was regularly invited to dine in the Officers' Mess. On one memorable occasion, Captain Paddy Blair Maine (who went on to become this country's most decorated soldier) attempted to drive a Jeep up the Grand Staircase for a bet. The incident caused much commotion and Christine Hanbury dispatched the men to bed with instructions to remove the Jeep in the morning when they had clearer heads. The Jeep had to be dismantled before it could be removed.

Christine Hanbury died in 1962, aged 89, leaving the house and estate to her trustees, and for the final time in its history Hylands was again offered for sale.

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Hylands House / Park (Chelmsford) 02 Jul 2015 06:29 #3

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Interestingly no mention of any SOE activity or indeed the wedding of Claude Grahame White in 1914 where he and a number of other aviators including T.O.M. Sopwith flew in to the grounds. It's seems feasible that Lysanders might have utilised the grounds however with all the other activity going on there I would be surprised if they were SOE.

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Hylands House / Park (Chelmsford) 02 Jul 2015 19:20 #4

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Jock Hanbury's widow, Felicity, is likely to be the real life WAAF that Susanne York portrayed in the 1968 film, Battle of Britain. She later married Air Commadore Harald Peake, later Sir Harald Peake.
The SAS were stationed at Hylands house, and liked to fight with USAAF personnel when off duty in Chelmsford.
A V1 was destroyed by I think, a Tempest over Hylands House. The explosion broke windows for hundreds of yards around.

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