Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Churchill Series – Aug. 21, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Yesterday’s post concerned the magnificent and historic Blenheim Palace and its grounds where, as Churchill famously said, he made his two most important decisions: to be born and to marry.

Today I want to share a bit about Woodstock, the village just outside the Palace gates and Oxford, eight miles down the road.

I’ll first say a few things about Oxford and its Churchill connections; then a few words about Woodstock.

Churchill visited Oxford countless times. The current rail station, though much changed, is at the same location as the one Churchill used.

From there it’s a 3 or 4 minute cab ride or a 10 minute walk to Christ Church, one of Oxford University’s most famous and beautiful colleges.

Churchill visited there often. His son Randolph was a student there ( an indifferent one who never took a degree).

His grandson and namesake also studied at Christ Church. Churchill encouraged young Winston to apply. When he enrolled, he sent his grandson two of his paintings with which to decorate his sitting room. Churchill was extremely proud when young Winston took his degree.

Churchill’s close friend and science advisor Professor Frederick Lindemann was for many years a member of the College’s faculty. Lindemann’s funeral service was held in Christ Church Cathedral with Churchill in attendance.

From Christ Church it’s an easy 10 minute walk to the Oxford Union, famous for its speaker series and debates.

Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph, spoke at the Union in 1888 on the question of Irish Home Rule. Churchill spoke there as well, often during the 1930s when he was advocating rearmament. He also participated in debates there.

It’s just a few minutes’ walk to from the Union to the start of what Oxonians call “the Woodstock road.”

An easy bus or auto ride takes you up the road to Woodstock, a lovely English village with friendly pubs and interesting small shops, including antique shops.

For this visitor the nicest thing about Woodstock is it’s not “touristy.” You get a kind of “two for one” when you visit the grand Blenheim Palace and the traditional village of Woodstock.

More tomorrow, when I’ll try to tempt you to consider a stay in Oxford as a base for visiting Churchill sites and much else of beauty and history in the area.

I hope you’re back.


Ex-prosecutor said...

As the self-appointed speaker for your many regular readers, I thank you for the fascinating posts regarding Sir Winston. I remember, years ago, before our central library did away with the card drawers in favor of computers, I was trying to locate a certain book about him, and found that an entire drawer and a half of cards was dedicated to books by and about him. I never found another figure that even came close to this. He earned it though.