GCHQ is one of the three UK Intelligence Agencies and a part of the UK's National Intelligence Machinery. GCHQ works in partnership with the Security Service (also known as MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6) to protect the UK's national security interests.
GCHQ's headquarters are in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Most of GCHQ c5500 staff work at Benhall in Cheltenham. The building, often referred to locally as the Doughnut, is a dramatic landmark at the entrance to the spa town of Cheltenham. It is also surprisingly similar in design to the Diamond Light Source, Oxfordshire.All manner of rumour, speculation and narrative is generated by GCHQ due to the nature of its activities, although it is something of a 'public secret'. Undoubtedly a key hub for monitoring forces acting against the UK's interests (as they state - a subjective statement in the extreme), it also occupies the imaginary heart of a certain form of British pride and obsession with spying and code-breaking. Associated with activites at Bletchley Park near Milton Keynes, the site underlines how intelligence, as knowledge in itself or through application of mathematics, science and technology ultimately leads to a form of network code-breaking capacity, and can change the course of war and history. The site along with MI5 headquarters on the Thames in London has created a marketing opportunity for the UK's intelligence services within Mass Media, as it plays out its projected fantasies through drama's based on a culture of fear - Spooks being the latest example.
GCHQ, along with its other smaller sites sits innocently among the suburban housing estates of Cheltenham. In many respects, it is the polite face of the advanced technological body of the surveillance machine, connected through its nervous system to key sites such as Menwith Hill, Hanslope Park and other communications gathering centres via its bristling satellite and microwave links. But it is also a shy face, and is sensitive to the intrusions of the camera, the enquiring eye.
If approaching please ensure you take notice of all signs regarding photography and take care not to take any images that might reveal identity of individual personnell.