Friday, January 24th marked the fifty-fifth anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill. Following a state funeral in London at St. Paul’s Cathedral, the body was taken by rail to Oxfordshire, where it was laid to rest in the churchyard of St. Martin’s, Bladon. The small village is located directly behind the grounds of Blenheim Palace, where Churchill had been born in 1874.
In contrast with the grand ceremonies that accompanied the fiftieth anniversary of Churchill’s passing in 2015, there were no organized events this year. Instead, the International Churchill Society sent a wreath to be placed at Churchill’s grave by Robert Courts, who lives in Bladon and is the local Member of Parliament. The inscription on the wreath included a haiku commissioned by the Society for this year’s anniversary:
At Sir Winston’s Grave,
Sounds of free children at play;
The Sunlit Uplands
First-time visitors to the gravesite may be surprised to discover that it is immediately adjacent to the playground of a Church of England primary school. Consequently there are times when those in the churchyard can hear and see nearby children at play. And is this not part of what Churchill meant when he spoke in the darkest days of 1940 about standing up to Hitler so that “the life of the world may move forward into broad and sunlit uplands”?
You can learn more about the community around Blenheim Palace as it is today and as it was when Churchill’s father Lord Randolph represented the constituency in Parliament in the forthcoming issue of Finest Hour. Robert Courts MP writes about the similarity in responsibilities he shares with those in Lord Randolph’s time.