House & Family History: The Bentley Priory Estate was sold in 1882 to Frederick Gordon, of Gordon Hotels, who converted Bentley into a hotel. In 1908 the hotel was sold and Bentley Priory became a girls' school, a purpose it served until the early 1920s. After the closure of the school Bentley Priory stood empty until 1926, when the House and 40 acres were sold to the Air Ministry. Considered by many as the spiritual home of the Royal Air Force, Bentley Priory is famous today as the headquarters of Fighter Command during World War II, and, most specifically, as Air Chief Marshal Dowding's Command Headquarters during the Battle of Britain (Bentley was also the planning headquarters for D-Day operations). In 2007 RAF Bentley Priory was sold by the Ministry of Defence to VSM Estates, which converted the House to luxury apartments, with further residential buildings errected in the grounds. In early 2008 veterans setup the Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust in hopes of converting the ground floor of the House into an RAF museum; in 2013, after eight years of planning and fundraising, the new museum opened to the public. Dowager Queen Adelaide, the widow of King William IV and the aunt of Queen Victoria, lived at Bentley Priory during the last year of her life, 1848-49, and died here.
Title: Great Irish Houses and Castles
Author: O'Brien, Jacqueline; Guinness, Desmond
Year Published: 1992
Reference: pg. 204
Publisher: New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade II*
Park Listed: Not Listed
Past Seat of: James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn, 1839-48. Dowager Queen Adelaide, 1848-49. Sir John Kelk, 19th century.
Current Ownership Type: Corporation
Primary Current Ownership Use: Mixed Use
Ownership Details: The ground floor of the House is today the Bentley Priory RAF Museum, while the upper floors are condos.
House Open to Public: Yes
Historic Houses Member: No