Britons, in Thousands,
File Past Flower-decked Churchill Grave
Bladon, England (Reuters)
The pilgrimage to the grave of Sir Winston Churchill resumed at dawn today as the small village churchyard where the statesman lies buried appeared to be turning into a national shrine.
By 10 p.m.Sunday night about 125,000 persons had filed past the grave since Churchill’s burial Saturday.
Sunday’s crowds continued to file past the flower-decked grave until 2:30 a.m. Fours tribute hours later, residents on their way to work, and several schoolchildren, began a new day’s tribute.
A mile-long stream made up of three lines of pilgrims stretched Sunday from the edge of the village into the churchyard. Police sealed off the entrances of the hamlet to cope with the cars bringing an ever-growing number of visitors.
Police and Bladon officials said they were astounded at the size of the crowds that have descended o the village, 72 miles northwest of London, ever since Churchill was buried in a private service in the churchyard following his state funeral at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London Saturday.
Shortly after members of the Churchill family left the churchyard, a stream of visitors started arriving. They came by train, bus, car and bicycle, clogging all routes leading to Bladon.
After the enormous influx Sunday, N. A. Veness, chairman of the Bladon parish council, said: “This place is about 800 years old. I am sure we have never seen a day like this before, and I do not believe we will see a day like it again.”
The small churchyard of 300 moss-stained graves where Churchill lies buried, contains the bodies of his parents, Lord Randolph Churchill and New Yorker Jennie Jerome.
The church itself stands close to Blenheim Palace, the huge mansion presented to Churchill’s warrior ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough. It was in a ground-floor room of the palace that Churchill himself was born 90 years ago.
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