Wartime deception – and site transformations – to discover at English Heritage sites in 2024

Wartime deception – and site transformations – to discover at English Heritage sites in 2024

June 2024 sees the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings by Allied troops on the beaches of Normandy. An undercover operation in Dover Castle’s secret tunnels was crucial to the success of the Normandy landings, helping to save thousands of lives and bring about the liberation of Europe.

To mark this anniversary, visitors to English Heritage’s Dover Castle in Kent can see the secret tunnels where British and Canadian troops worked tirelessly sending fake radio messages which helped to mislead the enemy about the timing and location of the Allied invasion of north-western Europe. The messages supported the illusion of a fictitious army preparing a major assault from the south east of England via Calais – while in reality, the real invasion force gathered secretly further west and landed on French shores in Normandy.

The tunnels hidden beneath King Henry II’s mighty castle also housed a wartime hospital – complete with wards and an operating theatre – and the operations centre where in 1940, Operation Dynamo was masterminded – the dramatic evacuation of over 300,000 British troops stranded on the beaches at Dunkirk.

In England’s north-east, English Heritage has just completed  a multi-million-pound conservation and improvement project at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens – which has transformed this wonderful site with 30-acres of Grade I listed grounds into a star attraction. There’s plenty to see – stunning gardens and grounds, a new café in the former coach house and new interpretation in the medieval castle and Grecian-style hall.

Other recently transformed sites to include in itineraries during 2024:

  • Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island in Northumbria is renowned as a centre of Christian learning, Rare artefacts in a new museum give an insight into the lives of the monks who once occupied the isolated religious community, founded in AD 635.
  • Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre close to Dover Castle in Kent was the landing point for the Roman invasion in AD43 and witnessed the end of Roman occupation 360 years later. Visitors can now climb a replica Claudian gateway to better understand the site’s development as a military supply base, then a thriving port town – and finally a fort. 

English Heritage is a charity which opens over 400 historic places to visitors –  including world-famous sites like Stonehenge, Hadrian’s Wall, Osborne – Queen Victoria’s seaside home – and Tintagel Castle. Great value multi-site passes are available for overseas visitors travelling individually and English Heritage gives 15% discounts for groups of 11 or more (10% at Stonehenge). For more information and to help plan visits, go to the group visits pages at www.english-heritage.org.uk or email: traveltrade@english-heritage.org.uk

At WTM 2023, English Heritage can be found on the Heritage in Britain stand, no: N9-401

For media enquiries, please contact Jane Lawrence – T: +44 (0)7711 901656; E: jldirectpr@gmail.com

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