Visiting Winston

While doing the navigation for Oxford I realised that it was not too difficult to visit the grave of Sir Winston Churchill in Bladon. He is buried in the churchyard of the Parish Church of St Martin in Bladon (Google Earth co-ordinates 51.830287°, -1.349588°) and the closest station to the church is Hanborough which co-incidentally is the stop before Oxford. By my estimates it was about a 1,8 km walk and I could do a round trip to the grave in 2 hours. The problem was: the trains to Oxford and back only run one per hour and they are typically 25 minutes apart. I could bail at Hanborough, do my graving and head back to Evesham, or I could continue onwards to Oxford depending in the time. It was something that I would only be able to decide when I was there.

I decided to do the trip on the 24th and it was a stinker of a day, with temps of 29 degrees and upwards. I caught my usual train and it was reasonably full, and got even worse when we arrived at Hanborough at 10.11.

Hanborough Station

I was hoping that there would be a taxi at the station but I was out of luck and I would have to hoof it. Fortunately there is a pavement so I did not need to do any bundu bashing.

Roughly at the midpoint the road crosses the River Evenlode and runs parallel with the River Glyme too although you cannot see the latter.  The Evenlode was originally called the Bladene and the village is named after it, although it appears in the Domesday Book as Blade.

River Evenlode

And then I started to approach houses, and in the distance the spire of the church showed me the way.

The church is on a rise with a steep path leading from the road. A lychgate is at the entrance to the church grounds.

and there she is. The Parish Church of St Martin, Bladon.

The Churchill family plot is on the other side of the church and there are quite a few members of the family buried in the plot (you can actually see it on Google Earth).

Sir Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace in 1874. Grandson of the 7th Duke, he was also a close friend of the 9th Duke and Duchess. Winston spent a considerable amount of time at the Palace throughout his life and proposed to his wife Clementine in the Temple of Diana at the palace. Both are buried in the family plot below.

And the grave of Sir Winston Churchill. 

Unfortunately there were other people at the plot and I wondered around waiting for them to leave. The churchyard is quite large but legibility of the graves is very poor. I did not really hunt down any military graves, but just walked through the burial area before returning to the plot which was still not cleared of people.  

I was thinking on the train about how I would feel about seeing this grave, I am somewhat of a fan of Sir Winston for his actions during the Blitz, but am no fan of his disastrous Gallipoli campaign  in the First World War. He was also not very popular with Afrikaners for his participation and capture in the Anglo Boer War, but then they hate anything English anyway. As it turns out I did not spend time at the grave as time was my real deciding factor. The church was open for visitors and I strolled inside, only to be confronted by the same people. The organist was also busy playing although he did seem to hit a few wrong notes.

The present building appears to have been considered around 1802 when the Bishop of Oxford was petitioned by the villagers of Bladon to grant them a new church as the old one was dilapidated and falling down. The new church was opened in 1804 and the building materials were paid for by the fourth Duke of Marlborough. It was extensively reconstructed in 1891 and the lychgate was built in 1893.

There is a small display about the burial and life of Sir Winston, and it appears as if he had a very strong connection to the church. A stained glass window commemorates the 50th anniversary of his death and it was unveiled by the Duchess of Cornwall on 09 June 2015

And then it was time to leave as I needed to plan my return to the station and I still had at least a 25 minute walk ahead of me. 

In earlier year the village of Bladon was involved in glovemaking and the quarrying of stone, much of which was used in the construction of the buildings in Oxford, and nearby Blenheim Palace, the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough. Bladon does appear in the Domesday Book too.

  • Hundred: Wootton
  • County: Oxfordshire
  • Total population: 28 households (quite large).
  • Total tax assessed: 5 geld units (quite large)
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 5 geld units. Payments of 0.5 miscellaneous.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £6. Value to lord in 1086 £6.
  • Households: 8 villagers. 18 smallholders. 2 slaves.
  • Ploughland: 7 ploughlands (land for). 2 lord’s plough teams. 3 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 14 acres. Woodland 1 * 0.5 leagues. 2 mills, value 0.7.
  • Lord in 1086: Adam (son of Hubert).
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Bishop Odo of Bayeux.

(Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )

I discovered the village War Memorial just past the church and quickly grabbed some pics of it while I could. 

Google Earth co-ordinates are 51.830480°, -1.350584°. The memorial is described as:

“Obelisk set on a square plinth and two steps. Incised Latin cross surrounded by green wreath is placed at the top of the obelisk with two plaques on front face of plinth and a small plaque on front face of first step. The whole stands on a gravel surround and is enclosed by a low wall.”

The inscription reads:


1914-1918/ “Faithful unto Death”/(Names)

1939-1945/ (Names)

There are 28 names on the memorial; 23 from the First World War and 5 from the second.

The only War Memorial I found in St Martin’s Parish Church was a simple framed Roll of Honour, however it could be that I did not see a larger or more elaborate memorial.

and then it was time to go, with a quick look to the left…

and a turn to the right and I was on my way again. 

I had 3 choices ahead of me. It was unlikely that I would make the 11:11 train to Oxford, but would be in time for the 11.33 train back to Evesham. I could also catch the 12.33 train back to Evesham and use the spare hour to look over the Oxford Bus Museum that was next to the station. (assuming it was open). However, as things turned out I arrived at the station at the same time as the 11.11 train so I decided to grab it and continue onwards to Oxford where we will continue our exploration of that great city. 

DRW © 2019 -2021. Created 23/08/2019. Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater. Added more images of war memorial 20/01/2021

This entry was posted in Churches and Cathedrals, Heritage, Hobbies and Interests, Memorials and Monuments, Military, Personal, Photo Essay, Roll of Honour, South Africa, United Kingdom, War, War Memorial, World War 1, World War 2 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.