VISIT | Winston Churchill and his Last Stand at Bladon | Oxfordshire
Churchill's Final Surrender
Stand at the foot of Winston Churchill whilst he sleeps on in immortality
Pay homage or be intrigued at Bladon church near Bleinheim Palace
One of the Spencer-Churchills - part of a family dynasty remarkable for their role in British history
"...the final goodbye to Churchill..."
An eighteen-word statement completed the final fight of this remarkable and divisive man.
Shortly after 8 a.m. this morning, Sunday January 24th, Sir Winston Churchill died at his London home. Signed Moran
The Moran was his personal doctor who had seen this remarkable man through his last few days – Lord Moran, an 82-year-old doctor and his friend.
A cerebral thrombosis after a cold, ten days later he was gone. His body had failed him but not until after his finest moments.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill.
Three times a Prime Minister. Soldier. Statesman. Orator. Military Correspondent. Artist. Historian. Father. Husband.
The relationship with the Queen was long; long and durable. And so on his death, she allowed a special permission – a state funeral. For Winston.
So three days before his funeral, on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the body of Sir Winston Churchill was permitted to lie in state at Westminster Hall.
Eight Grenadier Guardsman carried his body in. His coffin draped in the Union Jack. One hundred thousand waited in line to pay tribute to their fallen leader in the first 24 hours.
Thousands more followed them in. The Old Soldiers – uniformed, disabled, medalled. The Londoners. The inquisitive. The VIPs. The police ducking in during the quiet moments. The family taking a moment before the day. Goodbyes take time. For Winston, it was still true.
They called it unprecedented. It seems inconceivable in these modern revisionist times.
But on the 30th January 1965, hundreds of thousands lined the route of his funeral processions; whilst millions more at home in Britain and millions abroad watched in obscure intrigue and obligated fascination whilst this one-of-a-kind man disappeared from their lives. For many, this man had been off and on, seemingly ever present in theirs.
And so his final goodbye began with his body being carried on the Royal Naval Gun carriage last used for King George VI’s death in 1952. What followed was a cacophony of military glory, individual salute and international respect. A 17-gun salute. Pipers.
Over one hundred state leaders commended him on his way to the beyond. Rare comments from the Soviet Union. Committed attendance by others. From the public, a shared silence that such a man like Churchill should finally be gone from the world. For there would be no more reliance on the man.
Thousands of service personnel lined the route. The Grenadier Guards had stood guard whilst he waited in state, and then marched with him on his route home.
Overhead, Battle of Britain aircrews made homage to their commander. Respectful agreement to a man who knew the role of the few in beating Hitler and his Nazis.
His coffin was laid upon the Launch Havengore where it perhaps allowed the City of London to bid its final goodbye from the river Thames.
All whilst televised pictures were sent across the globe.
3,500 people were stuffed into St Paul’s Cathedral – quiet in atmosphere but staggering in providence. Charles de Gaulle of France. Sir Robert Menzies of Australia. Dwight D. Eisenhower, former President of the USA, Eamon de Valera, leaders of the Commonwealth and beyond, past and present Prime Ministers and of course, his Queen – Queen Elizabeth II.
The fanfare over, Churchill’s body was carried by opulent train carriage to rural Hanborough Station in Oxfordshire and then to Bladon. The ancestral home of the Churchills, the historical residence of the Duke of Marlborough. To be buried with his family at the church at Bladon.
The village, tinier back then than it is now was shut to traffic and even the locals were discouraged from surrounding the church. Lady Churchill was looking for a truly family only funeral. His job was over, now the family could take centre stage.
But he had returned home, back to his ancestral home. Churchill had been born at Blenheim, and after such a life, it was time to return. He was 90 when he died.
Now, should you stand in Bladon churchyard, with your eyes running over the gravestone of the man that once was and is no longer, you might think of the who, the what, the effect, the why.
For his gravestone is a simple stone. With simple words.
A husband to Clementine. A child of Blenheim.
But it is perhaps worthwhile to say that on his death, the people, the writers, the broadcasters clamoured that Churchill would find his place in history. In truth, he needed no place - for whilst his actions found outcomes, his character and his spirit became the resounding element of Britain – when we say Churchillian, we speak of a man, not a history as if his vigour, his fight were still afire.
For you cannot destroy energy. It finds another wire, another line, another spark. And in the darkness – Britain found that light. A belief that all was not lost.
Remember the man. Not the history. For you may not like all the history. But remember the character. The resilient standout and the work that had to be done when it was needed. That was Churchill.
Directions and Map |
Find Bladon Church sat tucked up a busy lane in the village of Bladon