Dinner at Ditchley Followed by Dinner at Blenheim
The 2015 International Churchill Conference will begin on Tuesday, May 26th with a dinner at Ditchley Park. During the Second World War when the moon was full, the Prime Minister took his weekends not at Chequers (thought too vulnerable to enemy air attack) but at Ditchley Park, the country home of Ronald and Nancy Tree north of Oxford. The home is not usually open to the public, but The Churchill Centre UK has secured a rare opportunity for members to visit.
Further from London than Chequers, Ditchley was also more protected by trees. Addtionally, Sir Martin Gilbert records, “the broad gravel drives at Chequers looked, from the air, almost like an arrow cut in the lawn and pointing at the house.” Churchill’s Private Secretary, John Colville, noted that the Prime Minister “does not object to chance, but feels it a mistake to be the victim of design.”
Churchill first stayed at Ditchley in November, 1940 during the height of the Blitz, where he learned of the death of Neville Chamberlain. Thereafter, he spent many weekends closest to a full moon at Ditchley while the threat of German invasion and aerial attack remained real. Much important discussion took place there about the war in the Western Desert and the negotiations over Lend-Lease.
On Wednesday, May 27th conference attendees will be able to spend all day visiting Blenheim Palace, home of the Dukes of Marlborough. It was here Churchill was born on 30 November 1874 and proposed to his wife Clementine in 1908. Churchill regularly visited the estate when his beloved cousin “Sunny” was the ninth Duke. He also spent much time here researching his monumental biography of the first Duke, John Churchill. A coach service will be provided to and from the hotel with dinner taking place at the hotel. (Please note that this Churchill Day is being organised by Blenheim Palace and the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and will require separate registration. Details to follow.)
The conference officially opens on Thursday May 28 at the Heythrop Park Hotel with greetings from Celia Sandys, the conference president. Speakers that day will include noted historian Sir David Cannadine, presenter of last year’s highly popular “Churchill’s Other Lives”, and broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, author of the acclaimed book Destiny in the Desert and a forthcoming book about the Battle of the Atlantic. In the evening coaches will take attendees to Blenheim for a gala dinner in the palace’s Orangery.
Fridays sessions will take place at Blenheim. In the morning Lord Dobbs will discuss Churchill in print and film. In the afternoon a memorial service will take place at Churchill’s gravesite at St. Martin’s, Bladon.
More details about the conference will be forthcoming. For more information or to register for the conference, please CLICK HERE.
To learn more about Winston Churchill please visit www.winstonchurchill.org.