Looking for 'The Arches' Felden / Polish Radio Intelligence Company

Discussion in 'Top Secret' started by Malcolm56, Jan 29, 2020.

  1. Malcolm56

    Malcolm56 Active Member

    I am trying to find the location of the house used by the Polish Radio Intelligence Company in Felden. It was called 'The Arches'. There is a clue to the location: “The London to Bletchley railway line… passing the town of Hemel Hempstead, on the outskirts of which sits the village of Boxmoor. Unlike Hemel, Boxmoor has a station on the line and it is less than a mile – if a stiff uphill walk – from the station to a large house in comparatively rural surroundings, in a place too small to have a name, but nonetheless called Felden. Its isolation, hilltop setting and railway link made Felden the perfect place for foreign spies to keep an eye on an ally of dubious intentions. The house was called ‘The Arches’ and it was requisitioned by the British in May 1943….On 22 June 1943, the Polish Radio Intelligence Company commanded by Captain Kazimierz Zieliński moved into the house, in whose grounds there were now 8m radio masts and associated outbuildings…” (From ‘X, Y & Z: The Real Story of How Enigma Was Broken”, by Dermot Turing).

    A possible place would be where it shows a water tower (just under word Felden) which is on the high ground at Felden shown in the 1956 OS map attached.

    There is a partial picture of the house; link - Polish Embassy UK on Twitter

    After 1945 became a pow camp (No.235).

    Thank You.

    Attached Files:

  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Today, 20 July 2016, the Polish Heritage Society (UK) Ltd unveiled a commemorative plaque in honour of the Polish mathematicians, turned crypto-analysts, Marian Rejewski and Henryk Zygalski who cracked the code of the German Enigma in 1938 while in Poland. During the war between 1943-1945 they worked within The Polish Radio Intelligence Company, situated in a private ten room house called ‘The Arches’ in the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

    The ceremony was held in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Lady Verulam, Poland’s Ambassador to the UK, Witold Sobkow and the Mayor of Dacorum Council, Cllr Robert McClean and other honoured guests.

    Larger picture of the house here
    Have a look at Google Maps it might help

    PHS commemorative plaque in honour of Polish crypto-analysts Marian Rejewski and Henryk Zygalski

    The village is very small just outside Hemel


    235 The Arches, Felden, Hemel Hempstead Hertfordshire Eng Precise location not identified, NGR given for centre village
    Every prisoner of war camp in the UK mapped and listed


    Felden - Wikipedia
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2020
    ozzy16, Tricky Dicky, stolpi and 2 others like this.
  3. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Unfortunately that is a false claim there are a number of camps missing and not mapped

    I think the mast may have been on Roughdown Common which is between Felden and the A41, it is a logical site for one and I believe there is one there today.
    Malcolm56 likes this.
  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Bob tell them then
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    See a previous thread: Command School Wing

    There is via Google this:
    on this local history website, but within a mass of text and no search option: Text

    Update: for the above link there is nothing there!

    Google also points to another, very large house sold in May 2019 and from the aerial photo it has arches at the front. It is not the house where the plaque is though. See: Savills | Bulstrode Lane, Felden, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP3 0BP | Properties for sale
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
    Malcolm56 likes this.
  6. Malcolm56

    Malcolm56 Active Member

    Thank you everyone - I think I am getting closer - but no bullseye yet.

    The websites repeat much the same information, that it was in Felden - but none of them say where / which house. I have sent a message to the Polish Heritage Society to see if they know. I am interested in the pow site - but, it seems to have played a pretty major part in cracking Enigma and it surprises me that it is not more well known.
  7. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    A search at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies returns this:

    DE/X929: Harrods Estates Department (1926 - 1959)
    1: Property cards ()
    40: Hemel Hempstead ()
    DE/X929/372: Property card: The Arches, Felden (Aug 1951)
    Held At:
    Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
    Property card: The Arches, Felden
    Aug 1951
    1 item
    Document Reference:
    Related Place:
    Hemel Hempstead
    Malcolm56 and timuk like this.
  8. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Have done
    CL1 likes this.
  9. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Hello Malcolm I went to the site today and took photos.

    The house is now called "Widgeons" and is in Sheethanger Lane,Felden,Herts
    Ord Survey 04265-05464 post code HP3 0BQ for the area

    Google Maps


    upload_2020-2-1_19-36-26.png upload_2020-2-1_19-36-56.png
    minden1759, Owen, Tony56 and 6 others like this.
  10. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    A good find, although the plaque is on the house wall it does appear that the property may not be the original building.

    The local council's planning portal shows that in April 1998 permission was granted for 'Loggia and pavilion'. A loggia being from Google:
    . Then in 2003 permission was granted for 'Two storey side extension, conservatory and detached garage and minor alterations'.
    From: Search planning applications
    CL1 and Malcolm56 like this.
  11. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Hello David

    The road is private and has many older houses a number have been knocked down and replaced in the same footprint but a more modern design there are a few still in the process of being knocked about and rebuilt as has happened to the Arches which is now Widgeons.

    timuk and Malcolm56 like this.
  12. Malcolm56

    Malcolm56 Active Member

    Wonderful work Clive - many thanks!

    It seems strange to me to change the name of such an historic house.

    Looking at the planning applications - (ThankYou Davidbfpo) it seems that the house has been extended quite a bit, rather than demolished.

    Best wishes - Malcolm
    CL1 likes this.
  13. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    CL1, Malcolm56 and timuk like this.
  14. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Every prisoner of war camp in the UK mapped and listed

    This link confirms The Arches as POW Camp 235. Unfortunately it also says 'Precise location not identified'.

    Edit: Sorry Clive, see you've already said this. Used to live around here, probably cycled passed it 50+years ago.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
    CL1 likes this.
  15. Malcolm56

    Malcolm56 Active Member

    Using CL1 - Clive's work the NGR for Widgeon's Rest / The Arches is TL 04265 05464 - shown on the attached map.

    Now that its alter ego is known I can see it was shown on several maps as 'Widgeons Rest'. I have not found one example of 'The Arches' on a map, though it is definitely the same place. I wonder if 'The Arches' was used as 'camouflage' for the site and just continued when it became a pow camp?

    The War Establishment number for Camp 235 and commandant rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1947 means it was a fairly large pow camp. My guess is that the house and large field at the side of the house was used.

    Thank you everyone for helping me. Malcolm

    Attached Files:

    CL1 and timuk like this.
  16. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Not necessarily. By 1947 many camps were merely admin and distribution points and the POWs were either billeted on farms or in hostels etc. The rank could well mean responsibility for a large number of POWs but spread over a wide area. For example I've found an account by the man in a Powys camp responsible for paying Italian POWs weekly allowances who had to visit farms in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire as well as Powys. By 1948 much of the work of administration and supervision was being carried out by POW NCOs (German NCOs were said to be far stricter gang bosses than British farmers themselves). It;'s entirely possible that the building was merely a series of offices. The commandant would however have to liase with senior County administrators over the allocation of his work force and the rank would give him the appropriate status and authority level
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2020
  17. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    It's possible that the unit originally occupied another building elsewhere called the Arches and the name became associated with them so they took it with them to Felden. I knew a company whose drawing office was called The Chapel "Oh the Chapel have sent the updated drawings" but was not located in one. However in the War they had occupied a building camouflaged to resemble a chapel and thereafter wherever it was located it was called The Chapel. This could be something similar.
  18. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Having stood outside the house I believe it is the original building which has been modernised over the years.
    There is an Arch over the front door
    It is up a steep hill
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2021
    Tony56 likes this.
  19. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    What an incredibly rare architectural feature
  20. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Very good

Share This Page