Winston Churchill’s funeral was on January 30, 1965 and was the largest state funeral London had then seen.
On that cold, gray day, I remember standing outside St. Paul’s Cathedral with crowds of others, listening to the service through loud speakers. After the service, his coffin was transported by barge along the Thames to St Martin’s churchyard in Bladon, Oxfordshire, near to his birthplace at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock.
The formal gardens at Blenheim Palace are spectacular, and it was in those gardens—in the Temple of Diana—that Winston proposed to his wife Clementine.
If you visit Blenheim Palace, you’ll see two permanent Churchill displays. In London there is also an excellent Churchill museum in the War Rooms, his headquarters during the London Blitz of World War II.
At Chartwell, his country home in Kent, he laid out gardens that perfectly suit the rolling landscape. He oversaw the excavation of the lakes, the building of walls and all of the plant selections. Churchill’s love of nature is also reflected in his many paintings of landscapes and flowers. He also painted portraits of people and a wide range of other subjects, and in them you can see his love of color and light.
I love the informality of Churchill’s flower paintings, with simple vases containing bunches of garden roses, asters, irises and some single bright yellow sunflowers that almost vibrate with color.