Summer Holidays Online Activities – Surrey’s super spies

Find out about Surrey’s famous spies whilst having fun with our spy themed activities.

One famous secret spy who lived in Surrey was Sir Francis Walsingham. Sir Francis Walsingham was born in 1532 and was MP of Surrey between 1572–1589. However, Walsingham was such a good spy that he became famous for being Queen Elizabeth I’s Spymaster!

Sir Francis Walsingham

Sir Francis Walsingham SHC ref 4348/1/50/5

Whilst Walsingham was still MP of Surrey he used his spy skills to stop two big plots against Queen Elizabeth I. The first plot was called the Babington plot in 1586. Queen Elizabeth I’s cousin, Mary Queen of Scots wanted to try and kill Queen Elizabeth I so that she could become Queen of England herself.

Walsingham got together a special secret spy group including Thomas Phelippes, who was an expert in decoding letters and Arthur Gregory, who could break letter seals, read the letters and put the seal back without anybody knowing he had opened them!

Together they secretly opened Mary Queen of Scots’ letters and cracked the coded letters and stopped Mary’s plan to kill Queen Elizabeth I.

Walsingham also used his spy skills to get information about Philip II of Spain’s plan to invade England and take Queen Elizabeth I’s throne in the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Years before the Armada, Walsingham had already set up spies in Spain to tell him what the Spanish were planning because he knew that Philip II didn’t like Elizabeth I and wanted to get rid of her. This meant that Walsingham could help prepare England and its navy for invasion.

Walsingham’s spy work was so helpful for stopping the Spanish Armada that English commanding admiral Lord Henry Seymour said “You have fought more with your pen than many have in our English Navy fought with their enemies.”

Sir Francis Walsingham’s signature SHC ref LM/COR/3/140

Sir Francis Walsingham’s signature SHC ref LM/COR/3/140

Make your own disguise mask pdf (PDF).

Top Secret Mission File pdf (PDF).

Photograph of Alan Turing by Elliott & Fry, 1951 (Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery under license).

Photograph of Alan Turing by Elliott & Fry, 1951 (Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery under license).

Another famous code cracker from Surrey was Alan Turing. Alan Turing was born in 1912 and lived in Guildford during his schoolboy years.

Turing was famous for making a special machine which helped cracked the codes of messages made by Germany’s Enigma machine during the Second World War.

The German Enigma machine scrambled up messages so that no one else who read them could read them. But Turing’s machine was able to unscramble the messages again so that the English could read the secret letters and find out what the Germans plans were.

Turing’s machine was called the Turing Welchman Bombe and was first used in March 1940 and Bletchley Park.

Turing was based in Hut 8 at Bletchley Park, which was used for naval intelligence (Photograph: Di Stiff)

Turing was based in Hut 8 at Bletchley Park, which was used for naval intelligence (Photograph: Di Stiff)

An Enigma machine at Bletchley Park (Photograph: Di Stiff)

An Enigma machine at Bletchley Park (Photograph: Di Stiff)

A Cipher Wheel is used to create secret messages or codes. One of the earliest examples dates back to 1470. The person sending the message and the one recieving it must have the key to the code and with this and the wheel they can write and read secret messages.

Make Your Own Cipher Wheel pdf (PDF).

Surrey was also a place where lots of spies were trained during the World War II. A secret organisation called the Special Operations Executive (SOE) trained people to be secret spy agents and carry out special missions. There were many Special Operations Executive training schools around the country, with 4 in Surrey: Bellasis House in Dorking, Winterfold House in Cranleigh, Wanborough Manor in Guildford and Gorse Hill in Witley.

Make Your Own Secret Spy ID Card pdf (PDF).

Make Your Own Binoculars pdf (PDF).

Help our super spy find his way out of the maze! pdf (PDF).

Secret Spy Word Search! pdf (PDF).

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