FH: stories | The Battle of Britain Memorial

Folkestone is the proud home of a national memorial dedicated to the bravery of those who fought in the Battle of Britain between 10 July and 31 October 1940.  Based at Capel-le-Ferne, the Battle of Britain Memorial is a place for visitors of all ages to reflect, remember and learn about the historic World War II battle.

Poised at the top of the White Cliffs and offering beautiful views of the skies above the English Channel in which much of the battle was fought, the site has plenty to discover.

Visitors will find replica Hurricane and Spitfire aircraft and the commemorative Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall, named in tribute to the late Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris, a Hurricane pilot in 1940.

The Wing is the Memorial’s visitor centre and is packed with information.  It is also home to The Scramble Experience, a hands-on attraction which gives visitors an idea of what it might have been like for airmen in 1940. There’s also a café and shop.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Battle of Britain Memorial was attracting around 35,000 visitors on average each year. In line with government guidelines, the Trust took the decision to close The Wing and the car park, but quickly adapted to ensure its visitors could experience the Memorial virtually.

Patrick Tootal, Honorary Secretary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, said: “When we closed the site in March 2020, we knew straight away that we wanted to offer a visitor experience at home. Our team has put together colouring sheets, crosswords and blog posts covering everything from book reviews to ration recipes.

“We have also been hosting Facebook and Instagram live events throughout lockdown to show off different aspects of the Memorial. Our most popular event was our virtual commemoration service on VE Day, which was covered by BBC Radio Kent. It’s been fantastic to see how quickly everyone has adapted to new digital methods.”

Patrick explained why its location is key to the memorial: “Folkestone is an ideal home for the Battle of Britain Memorial. Its White Cliffs location just outside the town offers a view of the French coast, a reminder of the threat that lurked just across the Channel in 1940.

To cover its annual running costs, the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, which is a registered charity, relies on income from The Scramble Experience, shop, café and car park, but these have been closed since March. To preserve the Memorial, which acts as a unique site of pilgrimage for many wishing to pay their respects to those who fought in the battle, the trustees have set up a Crowdfunder page for donations, which you can find here.

Despite the challenges the temporary closure has posed, Patrick and the team are looking ahead to the future. He concluded: “The latest government guidelines mean that we will be able to reopen the Memorial on 17 July. We have taken our time to make sure it’s safe for visitors, with hand sanitiser stations and other health and safety measures being implemented. We are very much looking forward to welcoming visitors old and new.”

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