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News From the Front

January 30, 2011

THE STATE FUNERAL OF WINSTON CHURCHILL

THE STATE FUNERAL OF WINSTON CHURCHILL THE STATE FUNERAL OF WINSTON CHURCHILL

Winston Churchill died at his London home, 28 Hyde Park Gate, on 24 January 1965, a Sunday morning, shortly after eight o’clock, at the age of 90; exactly seventy years to the day of his father’s death. His State Funeral on January 30 was one of the grandest and most poignant in English history.

At 9:45 A.M. on the morning of January 30, Big Ben struck the quarter-to and was then silenced. For three days, more than 300,000 mourners had filed past Churchill’s casket as it lay in state at Westminster Hall. Now, enfolded in a Union Jack, the casket was lifted onto a grey gun carriage and escorted by the Household Cavalry and the bands of the Royal Artillery and the Metropolitan Police down Whitehall and through the streets of London to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The BBC began its coverage the morning of the State Funeral with a half-hour tribute that aired on BBC1 at 8.30 A.M. Entitled, “Homage to a Great Man: Sir Winston Churchill,” this 'anthology' of pictures, poetry and prose told the story of Churchill's life and work. Richard Dimbleby narrated the film, with expert assistance from actors including Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Jack Hawkins.

At St. Paul’s, a congregation of 3,000 heard former-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, among others, memorialize Churchill, while tens of millions watched on television or listened on the radio around the world. The casket was then carried to Tower Hill and thence to the deck of the Port of London Authority launch, Havengore, which sailed with it up the Thames to Festival Pier, as the RAF staged a fly-past of sixteen English Electric Lightning fighters overhead. Borne to Waterloo Station, the casket was at last placed on a train drawn by the Battle of Britain class locomotive, Winston Churchill, passing thousands standing in silence along its route to Bladon, Woodstock, less than a mile from Churchill’s birthplace at Blenheim Palace. There, after a short private service, Winston Churchill was laid to rest in the Churchill family plot at St. Martin’s Church.

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