The Coaching Academy, with whom I am studying for my coaching diplomas, holds its London-based Accelerator Days (guided study) at Latimer House in Buckinghamshire.
Latimer House, once a stately home, is now part of the De Vere group of hotels and conference centres, with new buildings built to enlarge it for the conference side of the business. The house itself though stands quite imposing as you look up at it on a hill in the countryside, on the edge of the village of Latimer.
The original house was Elizabethan, but sadly destroyed by fire in the 1800s. Sadly for me, anyway, I like old building. I read somewhere that Charles I was imprisoned in the original Elizabethan house when he had his spot of trouble back in 1647 but I haven’t been able to verify that. He was banged up in a few different places, so maybe this one has just been missed off the list of the places I’ve looked at. Apparently, Charles II also stopped off here when he was on his way fleeing to France during the Civil War.
The current house was designed by Edward Blore and was completed in 1838. I doubt it bears much resemblance to the original house, from what I’ve seen of them, most Elizabethan houses were smaller and were structurally quite different.
Latimer House was used to house German prisoners of war prior to them being sent to traditional POW camps. That sounds a bit off key, doesn’t it? To keep prisoners of war in a fabulous place like Latimer House. Especially when you realise that they were allowed to have servants and probably had better food than the rest of the food-rationed UK. Latimer House was one of three stately homes where German POWs lived, but what they didn’t know was that the British government let them live like this so that they could listen in on everything with a view to getting an insight into the inner workings of the German military. The Brits bugged every room in the houses and used German refugees to listen in. It’s always better to use a native speaker with any translations, because of the nuances that second language speakers don’t always understand. Apparently, the government acquired some amazingly useful information like this, instrumental in winning the war. I could probably write a book about this subject, let alone just a blog post, so suffice it to say that the prisoners were moved to a traditional camp after a few weeks.
After the war, Latimer House became home to the Combined Staff College (which went onto become the National Defence College), a training centre for Britain’s armed forces. In 1974, the IRA placed a bomb in the grounds, near to be of the buildings. Fortunately there were no fatalities although a number of people were injured.
I checked the prices of the rooms at Latimer House, just in case I decide to stay there one night, rather than getting up at the crack of dawn to go there – they are reasonably priced so I won’t discount that out of hand. Meanwhile, back to the studies.
© Susan Shirley 2016