Monday, May 11, 2009

The Churchill Series - May 11, 2009

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

Readers Note: This week I'm posting tweaked versions of a five-post series that ran in Sept. 2006. I hope you enjoy it.


I hope the series which begins today will interest you all and perhaps make a future visit to London more memorable.

You may have heard of The Other Club, a social and dining club which Churchill co-founded in 1911; and in which he held membership until his death.

When Parliament was in session the club, whose bylaws state it's sole purpose is "To dine," met fortnightly in the Pinafore Room of London's Savoy Hotel .

Let's now take a short “Churchill” tour of selected sites in London

If you begin at the main entrance to The Savoy you are at the end of a very short dead-end street that exits on to the Strand.

As you walk toward The Strand, you’ll notice on your left the entrance to a theatre. Fittingly enough it’s The Savoy, once home to the D’Oyle Carte Opera Company, producer of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas of which Churchill was so fond. He often sang G&S songs in his bath. And, of course, he attended many productions at the Savoy.

Since Churchill’s time, the Savoy Theatre has been gutted and rehabbed but the basic interior layout remains essentially the same as in his lifetime.

When you come out onto The Strand, turn left in the direction of Trafalgar Square, an easy five-minute walk down The Strand.

You are on the left side of The Strand as you approach Trafalgar and taking the same walk Churchill often took to head back to the Admiralty or Charing Cross station where he’d catch a train to Seven Oaks, the station closest to his Chartwell home.

You’ll come to Charing Cross in just a few minutes. If at that point you look across to your right, you’ll see Saint Martin-in-the-Fields. Its crypt now contains a gift shop and popular cafĂ©. During WWII, it served as a bomb shelter.

Continue past Charing Cross another few blocks down The Strand and you’ll find yourself on the Southeast side of Trafalgar Square. Look to the North side where sits the National Gallery. Churchill sometimes took his children there.

Directly across from you on the West side of the square is The Admiralty. Through Admiralty Arch you can look up the roadway and see Buckingham Palace. It was from The Admiralty in the early evening hours of May 10, 1940 that Churchill, alone except for his bodyguard Inspector Thompson, rode to the Palace in response to the King’s summons.

(Continued tomorrow)


Anonymous said...

The written tour that you gave in today's postings took me back to London in the early sevenites when I was there as a student. I often walked the route from Trafalgar Square. As I read the posting I was able to visualize St. Martin-in-the-Fields as well. I am excited that I will have a chance once again to visit the many wonderful historic sites of London.