September 4 – Sir Winston Churchill’s burial in Bladon

Trailer at St Georges Barracks and Dinner with Chas

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Today we returned to the SOFO to tidy up and return unwanted boxes to the trailer. We had a good look around the museum which is dedicated to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars. It featured many exhibitions on World War 1 and 2 going through the timeline to today’s deployment in countries like Afghanistan. The exhibitions are interesting especially those about people which suffered through incarceration in death camps and prisoner of war camps. The secret War following the resistance and code-breaking was fascinating. Modern army specialising in bomb disposal and peacekeeping was also interesting.

We had thought we might stay most of the day but there were only two people in with preschoolers by late morning so we decided to take the trailer to St Georges Barracks, HQ Bicester Garrison near Bicester. The barracks have offered to look after our trailer until early February when we return to pack up the exhibition in Woodstock. We were issued with our own security pass and put the trailer into a corner where it was right out of the way. Everyone was super efficient and very helpful and we thank Lt. Col. Robinson for the offer as it takes a lot off our minds to know we have somewhere safe for the trailer.

We received a phone call on the way in from Peggy at SOFO to say that BBC TV Oxford is coming to interview Michael tomorrow at 10.30 to advertise the Medieval Mosaic exhibition. We intend to be there from 10 am as it is the official opening day so talking to the TV will be great.

We visited Bicester Village Designer Outlet. It is huge and the first sign we saw was the valet parking one. There were valets standing around but we obviously did not look like we needed valet parking as they did not jump out to take our keys. It is a village of individual shops rather than an indoor all featuring label shops like Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Celine, Brioni, Dior, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Givenchy, and Michael Kors among others. It is very exclusive and we felt a little out of place but it was an interesting place to go to watch how the other half live. We had a wonderful pancake each for lunch, the best we have ever had. I had Belgian chocolate and banana and Mike had bacon and cheese. Many pancake places in the UK use Nutella instead of chocolate which I do not like so it was nice to find someone who uses real chocolate. A real treat! They were really busy but you didn’t have to wait long as the three ladies worked like a well-oiled machine. As we getting up to leave the bottom of the container for the pancakes gave way and Mike got covered in butter. Lucky for him, he had a spare pair of trousers in the car.

On our way home, we realised that we were very close to Bletchington where Chas lives. I tried unsuccessfully to phone him but we thought we would call in on the off chance. Chas was just going out when we arrived but he was really pleased to see us and we arranged to meet in Woodstock tonight for dinner.

We also visited the parish church of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Weston on the Green although there was no church micro there. It had a painted reredos around a Decalogue and an 18th-century royal coat of arms in raised and painted plaster. In the sanctuary, there were eight wonderful ledger stones dedicated to the members of the Norrey’s family from around the 1700s – Mary, Jacob, Maria, Elisabeth and Jane. Other ledger stones were to Berties – James and Elizabeth and also some Norreys-Berties. There was also a wall plaque to Richard Frederick Norreys Bertie.

At Bladon, where we are staying we visited St Martin’s church. It was quite hard to find as there are no signposts to it anywhere and the streets are tiny. However, we found it in the end and managed to park close by on the side of the road.

St Martin’s church is very special as it is the final resting place of Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965). The Churchill family home is Blenheim Palace which is stretches from Bladon to Woodstock. Many other Spencer-Churchill’s are also buried here including Sir Winston’s parents Lord Randolph Churchill and Lady Randolph Churchill, his younger brother John or Jack, his children Diana, Randolph, Sarah, Mary and his son-in-law Christopher Soames. Other Churchill family members buried there include the 10th Duke of Marlborough along with his first wife The Hon. Alexandra Mary Cadogan and his mother, Consuelo Vanderbilt, former Duchess of Marlborough through her marriage to the 9th Duke of Marlborough, and their younger son Lord Ivor Charles Spencer-Churchill.

Inside the church is a wonderful stained glass window dedicated to Sir Winston Churchill. It was designed by Emma Blount and unveiled by the Duchess of Cornwall in 2015. When you look at it closely you can see scenes depicting Winston and scenes from WWII. Also all over it are words in many of his speeches. There is so much detail and it is a fascinating window.

The state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill is one of my earliest memories. I was only six but remember clearly watching the funeral on the TV so it was great to be able to visit his grave. Many other people visit here every day too and I counted 14 other couples had signed the visitor’s book for today alone and not everyone signs the book. What surprised me was that there was not a huge car park. In fact, there is hardly anywhere to park except at the side of the tiny streets. Outside the church, we saw all-electric Renault Twizy cars. They hold the driver and one passenger behind the driver. Certainly convenient for parking!

St Martins church also had a wonderful mosaic reredos and other lovely stained glass windows including one above the altar with cherubs with blue colours. There are a variety of encaustic floor tiles and a lovely embroidered altar frontal by Pat Russell from 1988. The Garter Banner of Lady Soames is wonderful and flies proudly in the church. She was the youngest of Sir Winston Churchill’s five children.

At 7 we met Chas at the free carpark in Woodstock and went to dinner at the Star in Woodstock. We have not seen each other since he helped us take down the exhibition in Oxford in mid-December 2017. We had lots to catch up on from both sides so we had a very pleasant evening.