PICNIC hampers and glasses of Pimms lined the gardens of a historic Stanmore airbase for a summer concert on Saturday.

The sun shone on RAF Bentley Priory as residents turned out for classical music, from 2pm to 4pm, by the Amenda Ensemble outside the Grade II* listed mansion.

Sir Brian Burridge, of the RAF Bentley Priory Battle of Britain Trust, said: “We have blessed by wonderful weather and we have good music, this is hard to beat.”

Along with the music, guests were treated to a tour of the base, where Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding masterminded the defence of the country during the Battle of Britain.

People with learning difficulties, from the Stanmore branch of the Shaw Trust, in Clamp Hill, volunteered at the site on Thursday and Friday, helping prepare the garden for the concert.

Dave Horrex, a landscape gardener, also helped to clear a fountain at the base and bring it back into use.

Mr Horrex, of The Highway, Stanmore, said: “I was pleased to do it. I really think we should remember this place and the people who lived and worked here and fought and died for our country.”

The trust is planning a series of open days from Thursday, September 10, to Sunday, September 13, with tours throughout the first two days.

Re-enactors will man rooms in the building to provide a living history of the base on the Saturday and Sunday, when there will be just one tour in the morning.

Doreen Winters, 75, of Ruislip, said she enjoyed the picnic concert and was thinking of going to the open days.

She said: “It's been very nice indeed. The youngsters who are playing here are very good. I want to come back in September to walk round the grounds.”

The RAF withdrew from the base in May last year and the trust is raising money to turn the most historic rooms into a Battle of Britain museum.

September's open days will be free but all money made from refreshments will go towards the museum.

Constance Coward, 60, in Marsh Lane, Stanmore, said: “The base is very historical and it should be preserved. It's a reminder of what we have here – what we fought for.”