Churchill's British Resistance - The Special Duties Branch

 

Hickleton Hall In-Station

This page was last updated at 4:06pm on 16/8/13

Thank you for selecting information on the Hickleton Hall Special Duties In-station in Yorkshire. The info & images below have been supplied by CART member Duncan Simpson through Andy Gwynne.

Hickleton Hall 1

Hickleton Hall today (Courtesy of Duncan Simpson)

Hickleton Hall stands 10 kilometres north-west of Doncaster, at the south side of the village of Hickleton. The 77 hectare site is bounded to the north largely by the A635 Doncaster to Barnsley Road, together with the south side of the village. The east boundary is marked partly by Hickleton Road, leading to Barnburgh, which also divides the north-east section of the park from the main part, and on the other sides by agricultural land.

Hickleton Hall One of the former homes of the third Lord Halifax, a Viceroy of India and British Ambassador to the USA, and foreign secretary in Neville Chamberlains Government from 1937 to 1940 and so was making him a major figure in the history of the appeasement of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. He was King George V’s preferred choice as Prime Minister in 1940. The Army occupied the Hall during the Second World War and afterwards, the contents were sold and the property let to a school based at Whitby. In 1961 Sue Ryder (later Lady Warsaw) opened the Hall as a refuge for Forgotten Allies and it continued on as a Sue Ryder Care Home. Today at the time of writing this Hickleton Hall stands empty awaiting a planning Application to turn it into luxury apartments.

Winston Churchill with his first Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax in Downing Street. Later Lord Halifax became the British ambassador in USA, one of the most important positions in these days for the British.

After Dunkirk large houses were taken over and used as Head Quarters for a number of Divisions. It seems that Hickleton Hall According to GHQ Order of Battle (1941) served as 1 Corps (Northern Command) HQ and according to local stories passed down strange things happened at Hickleton. There is a local story of a Haystack that stood in the yard of an outbuilding, now this haystack stayed in the yard for the whole of the war and people would just appear out of it as if by magic, maybe it was just camouflaging some hut or other from overhead planes. Stories also say that Eisenhower, Churchill and Montgomery would also attend Hickleton, it certainly had good security as Lord Halifax was refused entry into the Hall by a sentry after returning late from a very important cabinet meeting in London. The soldier was later commended. In the War Diaries of the 44th and the 45th Divisions, Hickleton Hall is mentioned periodically and an important entry was that the Sgt’s Mess Huts were starting to be built in the grounds which today you can see Hut Bases still in situ around the Park.

 Hickleton Hall 2

Hut Bases in and around the Park (Courtesy of Duncan Simpson)

Beatrice Temple was stationed at Hickleton for three months and it is she who mentions that the SDS In-Station was in the grounds of the Hall within the Summer House. The Summerhouse still stands today albeit in ruins on one the highest points of the park above a crag which is not known if it is man made or natural. Hickleton SDS In-Station served both Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, a total of 9 other stations. The Station was manned by ATS girls and although we have some names of the operatives some are not complete. Surnames of Hay and Airlie and full names as Margaret Whiting, Dodo Campbell and Waddy Cole. Major Winterborn the possible IO is a name that could be associated with Hickleton.

When a full walk over the Park was done evidence of the War was still there in abundance, Hut Bases, rubble, ironwork and not least the remains of the Summer House, It stands atop the highest point in the Park on the edge of a Crag. The Summer House is rectangle in shape with internal dimensions of approximately 10 feet by 8 feet. From the surviving remains it appears to have had windows in three sides and the front (on the opposite side to the Hall, but facing the sun) was originally completely open. It is presumed that some kind of temporary wall or screen would have been added during its SDS use. The floor is covered in rubble and soil but probing suggests that it retains a flagstone floor over its entire area. What is of significance is the proximity of hut bases from the army camp. The nearest of them is perhaps only nine yards away. The huts surround it on all three sides, the rear facing out over the slope back towards the Hall. It is reasonable to presume that either the huts were placed close to it once it had passed out of SDS use or that the occupants of the nearer huts were not considered to be a security issue for the use of the Summerhouse. Possibly the nearest one was the billet for the operators?

Within the Crag are the remains of ironwork and we feel that if any underground structure was to exist then this would be the likely place. Perhaps if you were to excavate the area in front of the Crag Wall you may find an entrance further down but I feel it is much more likely that the area in front of the crag was once covered over and maybe the underground radio structure was here and at the end of the War it was destroyed. It would account for the crater like anomaly and the expanse of rubble in that area but this can only be conjecture, certainly there is evidence of some sort of structure abutting the crag wall.

Hickleton Hall 3

The remains of the Summer House. (Courtesy of Duncan Simpson)

Hickleton Hall 4

Rubble abounds the area around the Summerhouse with trees just not old enough to have been there during the 1940’s (Courtesy of Duncan Simpson)

Hickleton Hall 5

Iron work at the foot of the Crag, almost certainly the presence of a structure. (Courtesy of Duncan Simpson)

 

Hickleton Hall 6

 

The yellow marker shows the presence of the iron work in the picture above. (Courtesy of Duncan Simpson)

 

Although the trees within the vicinity of the Summerhouse are a plenty none are of substantial age that they were there in 40’s and information from the Landowner was that he removed trucks of trees after a bad storm in ‘87 so evidence of Aerial cables are now long gone. For the future of Hickleton, digs have occurred over the summer of 2013 and Duncan has asked that we are kept informed of any future developments that would be of great importance to us.

With special thanks to Andy Gwynne and CART Member Duncan Simpson and his permission to use his photographs and his patient and diligent field work on his many visits to Hickleton Hall.

Evelyn Simak – Norfolk
Stephen Lewins – CART CIO Northumberland
Nina Hanniford – CART CIO Devon