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tried & tested

When there are so many places to choose from it's hard to know where to visit! In good or bad weather, with very young children or older teens, activity venues or quiet walks, every venue will offer something different with a variety of facilites available. We will add our thoughts on places that we have Tried & Tested so that you are well-informed before you make your decision to leave the house!

Visiting Bletchley Park - home of the codebreakers

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Bletchley Park, in Milton Keynes, is the world-famous home of the World War II code breakers.  During the war the brightest mathematicians in the country were recruited to work, in secret, deciphering communications sent by Germany and their Allies.  The work carried out there was hugely important in influencing the outcome of the war and being able to visit and learn more about it is fascinating. A visit will take you around the site into the restored huts and blocks where the main work of listening and code-breaking was carried out, and into Bletchley Mansion, where some of the rooms are presented as they would have been at the time. The site is also home to the National Museum of Computing where you can see a working reconstruction of the Colossus computer – the world’s first programmable computer, developed as part of the code-breaking work.

You can collect the children’s activity pack at reception  and I was really impressed with the quality of the pack. This is presented as a “Top Secret” wallet with 6 mission cards inside that can be completed at various parts of the site and includes facts, puzzles, things to look for and stamps to collect.  There is a suggested route that you can follow to see the main highlights of the site.

Once you have been through the introductory area in the visitor centre don’t forget to pick up your free multi-media guide before heading out to see the rest of the site. There is a version for adults and a version for families.  These include background to some of the people who worked there and their first-hand experiences. The family version also includes puzzles to complete.  My 9-year old particularly enjoyed using this – it had a screen, what’s not to enjoy!

In addition to this, around the site there are interactive and hands-on exhibits that everyone can get involved in, solving puzzles and gaining an insight into how the code-breaking machines like the famous Bombe worked.  There is plenty of reading to do around the exhibits if you want to really understand what you are seeing, and this is complimented by sounds and voiceovers in some of the rooms, and of course artefacts from the era to give a real sense of what it was like working there. 

If you want to take time out there is a café serving hot and cold food, a coffee shop in the visitor centre and a tea room in the Mansion open most weekends.  There is also a play area for younger children.

The museum has ensured there is plenty for children to enjoy during their visit, including special events (usually suitable for ages 5-14) during the holidays (keep an eye on our What's On page); and under 12s get free entry!  It's definitely one for older children and teens too, especially if they have an interest in history or computing, and with tickets being valid for re-entry for the next year you can really get your money's worth and go back another time for free!


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