You probably know where the Great Escape took place, or that the Churchill never saw the sun in his final year. But you may not know much about the five-story underground bunker that was built on the site of the old government palace, to protect the 43-year-old prime minister in the event of an invasion. It was first discovered in 1982 by a policeman who was knocking on the walls of the cement prison and discovered a set of roughly 6-foot reinforced gates that enabled guards to drive a circular drive straight inside the labyrinth of rooms. The underground bunker was funded by the Scottish government, and was designed by Sir Colin Marshall, one of Britain’s greatest designers and avid explorers who regularly set himself up in remote spots in the British Isles.
It’s a comprehensive scheme, then, to create a maze that requires many more footlings than you’d typically find in a prison yard. But the plan is to do so in an inspirational way, with locations featuring as much archaeological charm as they do anything to do with tanks, spitfires or steam-powered battleships. There are details, for example, of how Churchill memorably chopped his left foot with a knife so the doctors at the hospital could sew him up. There are also some truly bizarre drawings by employees while they were still at their jobs at the palace, how Churchill allegedly checked his egresses after his hunting trips, and what it was like to be just metres away from assassination attempts and the dictator himself, wearing his menacing uniform.
At one point, when the authorities were worried about Churchill’s mental stability, they placed a gun on the gate of the bunker, and left it there, allegedly as a constant reminder of the only person that could get through.
Read the full story at The Daily Telegraph.
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