National Trust: Hughenden Manor

High Wycombe

Soo! interesting. You move round the exhibition and you are really absorbed in the fantastic descriptions of the making of the maps, that was used by the pilots in the second world war, done in such a way that it really brings it home to you, and at the same time educates you as to what an important part Hughenden played in WWII.

Visitor comment on Trip Advisor

Hugheneden Manor, codenamed ‘Hillside’, was a top secret centre for producing target maps for the RAF during World War II. Our brief was to tell this story within a series of rooms that were used as drawing offices. Specifically, the spaces were to feel different, incorporating different light levels and a combination of room setting and audio and visual technology. 

With very few original artefacts, we took a people-focused approach to telling the story – be it through the people who worked here, how this centre was of strategic importance, or ultimately the impact of bombing by both allied forces and Nazi Germany, on military and civilian targets.

The interpretative techniques included:

  • a five-minute briefing, delivered by a RAF officer, projected directly onto the wall, as if he was seated behind a false desk front
  • Interactive touchscreens to explore aerial recognisance photographs and target maps
  • reconstructed drawing desks, explaining the mapmaking process, including hands-on elements
  • a soundscape of imagined conversations between the cartographer’s, while working at their desks, interspersed with radio broadcasts
  • talking head video/audio recordings of veteran’s reminiscences, presented alongside memorabilia from the era, in a trunk
  • utilisation of existing built-in shelving to create a temporary exhibition area.

In collaboration with our partners CMC Associates, Artemis (Scotland) and McRobb Display, our scope of work encompassed:

  • stakeholder consultation, through workshops and online feedback
  • scriptwriting and picture research
  • dramatisation, audio recording, filming and editing
  • digital media production
  • exhibition production and installation

We ensured high levels of accessibility were achieved throughout the exhibition, and that interventions respected the Grade 1 listed building.