Published: 14:10, 21 January 2015
“It wasn’t a funeral – it was a triumph”, Lady Clementine Churchill famously said following husband Sir Winston Churchill’s state funeral.
This weekend will mark 50 years since Britain’s wartime leader died aged 90 on January 24, 1965 following a stroke. His funeral took place on January 30 at St Paul’s Cathedral, after three days lying in state.
Much of Churchill’s retirement had been spent at Chartwell, his much-loved family home in Kent. To mark the 50th anniversary of his death, an exhibition called Death Of A Hero is being held at Chartwell, which will continue throughout next month.
The exhibition includes items that have never been on public display before, including personal mementoes from the Churchill family.
In order to fully examine the significance of the loss not only on Great Britain but the world, the exhibition looks at five key themes.
1. Churchill’s passing
Looking at the last moments of his life and the day itself, the exhibition reflects a man still very much active in politics and seemingly reluctant to retire. Documents also demonstrate the plans and systems that were already in place several years before Churchill passed away.
2. THE AFTERMATH
“The great figure who embodied man’s will to resist tyranny passed into history this morning”, reported the New York Times. Newspaper reports from the day offer an insight into the reaction of the international media, and the exhibition includes items like the flag that flew over Washington the day it was announced.
3. THE FUNERAL
The exhibition reflects the momentous day itself, from the order of service to sketches of the funeral. Also on display are the spurs gifted by Lady Churchill as a thank you to the Duke of Norfolk who, as Earl Marshal organised the state funeral. Footage of the funeral will be showcased.
4. HIS LEGACY
The accolades and accomplishments that we remember Churchill for include his work as a painter, writer, orator and politician. Look out for the Remington noiseless typewriter, which Churchill had for his secretaries to use so he could dictate without any distraction.
5. REMEMBERING HIM
Following the ceremony there were countless commemorative objects created in memory of Churchill. From the 1965 commemorative crown coin, the tobacco pipe, plates, vases and even commemorative biscuit tin on display in the case, everyone could have a piece of memorabilia in their homes. The first of the new plastic £5 notes to be made for 2016, depicting the famous Karsh photo portrait of Churchill, demonstrates the devotion, admiration and respect we still hold for Churchill and will for future generations.
The Death Of A Hero exhibition is now running at Chartwell, near Westerham, until Sunday, February 22. Entry costs £13 for adults, £6.50 for children and £32.50 for families.
Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell or call 01732 868381.