Ancient Monuments

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Hare Warren Control Station

A Scheduled Monument in Wilton, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.0585 / 51°3'30"N

Longitude: -1.8785 / 1°52'42"W

OS Eastings: 408608.7121

OS Northings: 128796.5528

OS Grid: SU086287

Mapcode National: GBR 3ZZ.KWB

Mapcode Global: FRA 66YB.3Z9

Entry Name: Hare Warren Control Station

Scheduled Date: 29 May 2014

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1417594

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Wilton

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Wilton St Mary and St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


This wireless station is located in Hare Warren woods, at the southern end of the Wilton Park Estate. It is an underground structure divided into operational, accommodation and service areas, with some surviving fittings.

Source: Historic England


Principal elements
The control station is located below ground, at varying depths. It was constructed by the Royal Engineers and comprises a main operational area subdivided into a living, sleeping, cooking, wireless operation, and generator areas. The living area is partitioned from an entrance corridor by a concealed heavy timber door and wall. An escape tunnel leads from the operations area to an escape hatch and to a further tunnel that to an area containing a water tank. The whole structure forms a secret concealed Second World War communications facility.

The station is constructed in a pit, approximately 3 to 4 metres deep, with a concrete slab. The principal structure is on an approximate north-south orientation, 10.3m long and 3m wide, with corrugated iron shelters forming the walls and roof, and standing on concrete plinths. The area is subdivided by block partitions, which also support the walls and roof. There are timber door lintels and architraves, and where they survive the doors are timber plank. The wireless operations area is the largest space within station and has three timber operating positions fitted to the west wall, partitioned with timber and asbestos board. Above the desks, cabling lighting, powering the wireless sets and aerial connections remains in situ. The cabling runs north to the generator and battery room and south to a small cooking area, partitioned off from the operations area. A concrete partition and timber door lead to the generator room to the north. At its west end is a concrete exhaust silencer with an attached exhaust pipe that connects with a flue pipe, which exits through the north wall of the station. The glazed pipe exits the ground to the north of the station and is visible above ground. To both sides of the exhaust silencer box are bolts in the floor that were used to fix down two petrol-driven 300 Watt generators for charging and lighting batteries.

In the south-east corner of the main operations area, behind a further concrete partition, there is the entrance to an escape tunnel. The tunnel is formed by a 1.06m diameter concrete pipe, 17m in length. It leads to an escape shaft constructed of concrete and brick and covered by a post-war steel grille at ground level. A further 1.06m diameter tunnel runs 5.1m at 90 degrees (south) from the escape shaft to a square chamber containing a steel tank and two air vents. The air vents suggest that Elsan chemical toilets may have been situated here.

In the south-west corner of the main operations area is a small partitioned cooking area with a timber desk. To the south of the cooking area is a sleeping area with an intact timber bunk with steel mesh base to the west wall; the east bunk is collapsed. The upper bunks have been removed, although battens for their support remain.. To the south, a concrete step up to a timber plank door leads to an accommodation or living space. The eastern part of this room is partitioned by a concealed door and wall, separating it from a corridor to the entrance. The concrete block-lined corridor leads east then south to the entrance lobby. Timber posts and beams support the block walls of the lobby, which is roofed by a thick reinforced concrete slab that was installed in July-September 1944. An opening has been cut in the slab to provide a new roof opening, which is lined with timber. Above the square opening is a post-war steel cowl grille.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The wireless station at Hare Warren Woods, Wilton, Wiltshire is designated as a Scheduled Monument for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: the perceived threat of imminent German invasion and occupation was so great in 1940 that the formation of the Auxiliary Units was given priority by Churchill, and secrecy was paramount for its potential success. By 1944, this threat was considered negligible; nevertheless, the continued value placed in a secure and secret communications network prior to the Normandy invasion is indicated by the construction of this ‘super’ control station;
* Rarity: this is the only known control station of its type, in terms of scale, plan and operational capacity;
* Survival: this site, along with all of those in the network was stripped of equipment at the end of the Second World War. However, many fittings survive including bed frames, operator positions, generator housing, doors and cabling. The station survives largely intact although the roof structure is breached at one location;
* Potential: the station is the last to be built on the Special Duties network, and the most advanced and complex, and as such has high potential to inform our understanding of this less well-understood area of Second World War heritage. It appears to embody the ‘best practice’ developed for the construction of such stations between 1941 and 1944;
* Documentation: due to the secret nature of the Auxiliary Unit organisations, very little documentation ever existed relating to it, and some information is thought to have been destroyed. However, a ‘super station’ is referred to in a contemporary private diary of the senior ATS officer, which most likely refers to this site;
* Group value: the site is within a Grade I registered park linked to the seat of the Earl of Pembroke, Listed at Grade I. The importance of Wilton House as the location of Southern Command Headquarters during the Second World War is high, as probably the most vital centre of operations coordinating home defence and, subsequently the logistic preparations for the Normandy landings on 6th June 1944;
* Representative: the station is of unique size and complexity, probably representing the key role of Wilton House in both the home defence network and the plans to invade occupied France in 1944.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Lampe, D, The Last Ditch, (1967, reprinted 2007)
Simak, E, Pye, A, Churchill's Secret Auxiliary Units in Norfolk and Suffolk, (2013)
Simak, Evelyn, Pye, Adrian, Churchill's "Most Secret" Special Duties Branch, (2014)
Warwicker, J, Churchill's Underground Army, (2008)
David Hunt, Aspects of Aux Units, 2013,

Source: Historic England

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