February 27, 2015

Finest Hour 161, Winter 2013-14

Page 57

By Robert Courts

Sir  Winston Lies Where He Wished, in a  Visual Reminder of the Long Continuity of History

Bladon, near Woodstock, is a quiet Oxfordshire village with a lot of visitors. The Parochial Church Council and the Churchill family together ensure those who come to pay their respects to Sir Winston find a gravesite that is dignified. Every now and again, one sees ill-informed speculation on the Internet that suggests the grave is in a poor condition. It is fitting therefore that an update on its condition be made for those who are not able to visit in person.

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Bladon is a typical English country churchyard, and in fact it is closed to new burials. The gravestones and memorials are old, in many cases considerably exceeding 100 years, and the stones are well weathered, with substantial growth of lichen. The scene is one of gentle weathering; of monuments that are in keeping with a church some 150 years old, in a place where a church has existed in one form or another since medieval times.

The exception to this is the Churchill family plot, which is of more formal presentation, “paved” and more neatly maintained by the Churchill family and the Parochial Church Council. Sir Winston’s plot was thoroughly cleaned and restored in 2006. It remains clean and tidy today, although a routine cleaning will shortly take place to remove slight lichen growth, and, like the surrounding graves, some small grass growth in the paving. The Churchill plot is perfectly in keeping with its surroundings: it is not gleaming white, nor is it a picture of decay. It fits in with the surrounding family plots, with their traditional stone and gentle weathering. Sir Winston and Lady Churchill lie where they wished, in a traditional English churchyard, a plot that is a visual reminder of the long continuity of history.

Mr. Courts, a longtime member of the Churchill Centre UK, is also a member of the St. Martin’s Parochial Church Council in Bladon.

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