National Treasures: Saving the Nation’s Art in WW2

Caroline Shenton,

7-8pm, Wed 3 Nov 2021.

Live via talk Zoom

On 1 September 1939, the same day that Hitler’s forces marched into Poland, it wasn’t just children who were being evacuated to the countryside. At the height of the late summer heatwave the hour had finally come for the men and women of London’s museums and galleries to roll up their sleeves and save their priceless collections from bombing, invasion or worse. Requisitioning stately homes, Tube tunnels, castles, quarries, prisons and caves as ingenious hiding places, a remarkable bunch of dedicated resisters packed up the nation’s most precious objects and, in a race against time, dispatched them throughout England and Wales on a series of top-secret wartime adventures…including Buckinghamshire. What happened to them next is a remarkable moment from our history when an unlikely coalition of mild-mannered civil servants, social oddballs, and metropolitan aesthetes became nothing less than the heritage front in our fight against the Nazis.

Dr Caroline Shenton is a writer, archivist and historian. She was formerly Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London, and before that was a senior archivist at the National Archives. Her first book The Day Parliament Burned Down won the Political Book of the Year Award in 2013 and its highly-acclaimed sequel, Mr Barry’s War, was a Book of the Year for The Daily Telegraph and BBC History Magazine. In 2017 she was Political Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library. Her third book, National Treasures: Saving the Nation’s Art in WWII, will be published on 11 November.

This live talk will not be recorded.

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