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Churchill As Chancellor of Bristol University

Video of Churchill as Chancellor of Bristol University

Churchill_Bristol_RobesChurchill’s Bristol Chancellor RobesWinston Churchill served as a chancellor in three different capacities. First as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1915, then as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1924-29 and finally as Chancellor of Bristol University from 1929 until his death in 1965. This year marks the eighty-fifth anniversary of his assuming the Bristol office. In a newsreel made in 1941, Churchill can be seen wearing his official robes (now on display at Chartwell) and speaking as Chancellor of Bristol at a ceremony to confer honorary degrees upon US Ambassador Gil Winant and Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies. To watch the video, please CLICK HERE.

Bristol sustained severe bomb damage from the Luftwaffe the night before Churchill arrived on 12 April 1941 to preside at the degree ceremony. John Colville, the Prime Minister’s Private Secretary, described how the official party led by the Lord Mayor “walked and motored through devastation such as I had never thought possible.” At the university Churchill “made an excellent impromptu speech in which he likened the fortitude of Bristol to that which we are accustomed ‘to associate with Ancient Rome and modern Greece.'”

In his war memoirs, Churchill wrote: “The ceremony went forward as planned. Everything proceeded with strict formality, but the large building next to the University was still burning and the bright academic robes of some of the principal actors did not conceal the smoke and grime uniforms of their night’s toil. The whole scene was moving.”Churchill_BristolRobert Mezies, Churchill, Gil Winant

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