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The Churchill Society
London.

Be of good cheer. The hour of your deliverance will come.
The soul of freedom is deathless.
It cannot and will not perish

Winston Churchill

Broadcast, London,
11th September 1940

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St Martin's Parish Church Bladon

St Martin's Parish Church. Bladon. Oxfordshire.
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The Grave before and during restoration.

Grave as it was prior to restoration

Sir Winston's grave as it was.
It is the 3rd on the right in the front row this photograph.

Note how its tablet slopes forward.
The original master mason, Mr Stanley Maxwell Moffatt, knew what he was about.

He made it like this for two purposes

(a) to prevent the accumulation of dirt in the lettering
and to allow the rain to drain off the tablet and so protect it from frost damage and,

(b) to enable light and shade to accentuate the V incised lettering.

Original  Tablet Grave

The master mason was only responsible for the tablet -
not the border paving stones,
but you can see he had a perfect sense of proportion -
something that cannot be taught.

Note how knowledgeable he was about mouldings
and how he was a master of lettering
The New Tablet.

Photo of the new Tablet

Bad lettering

The correct lettering is

For over 3,000 years men have carved in stone
and experience has proved which are the best styles in lettering.

This tablet exposes woeful ignorance of the art of lettering.

Moreover the designer has obviously heard of entasis but does not understand its purpose.

The tablet's exaggerated entasis is vulgar,

it should be hardly visible but nonetheless correct to eliminate optical illusions

The tablet is brutal.
It looks as if it has been made behind the Iron Curtain.

Nor has the stone mason any appreciation of mouldings -
but then few have any knowledge of them today.

Is it a worthy of such a great man?

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When it has weathered will look even more ugly and oppressive.

The Grave before and during restoration.

The sum of £350,000 (plus) was alleged to have been spent on this refurbishment. It has not been spent as the public were led to believe it was to be spent, for little of it was spent on Sir Winston's grave.

It has been spent upon the entire Churchill family burial plot which has 14 people interred in it to date. The work included preparing many (unoccupied and future) family graves.

A large part of the money was spent on a new graveyard footpath.

This money was public money - being a fraction of the very first payout from the National Lottery, snatched by the family after they threatened to sell at public auction the Churchill Archive Papers. Archives which the nation understood Sir Winston and Lady Churchill had given in perpetuity to Churchill College Cambridge.

The rich always make the poor pay for their privileges.

Churchill's grave is nearest to the footpath (top of photograph) it faces the public. For some strange reason all the other headstones face away from the public. This requires the public to walk upon the grass around the plot to read the text upon the headstones - thus defeating the whole purpose of the project. Among others buried in the family plot are:- (this picture is taken from what is in fact the front of the plot) Not in view....Christopher Soames (son in law), Sarah (daughter), Diana (daughter).

Middle Row. Centre to Right. John Strange (Brother) Jennie (Mother) The Large Cross. - Lord Randolph (Father) (out of view on right of middle row) Randolph (Son), and among those buried in the front row (back row in the picture) are Sir Winston and Lady Clementine Churchill and (left) Ivor Charles (cousin).

There are a number of other family graves in the plot which have also been included in the work.

It would have been sensible to have had a small engraved plaque stating the names of all those persons interred in the plot.

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Below are photographs of the lettering. The work was done by Joslin (Stonemasons) of Oxford and is disgraceful.

It is distressing to see that a man who was arguably the greatest Englishman of this century, has been accorded a memorial which so looks crude and clumsy. The war grave of the humblest soldier is - quite rightly - dignified and well designed and always has impeccable lettering.

Surely Churchill's grave should be of at least equal quality?

Careless Carving

 

Bad Lettering

Click to enlarge.

People have been visiting Churchill's grave for the last 33 years and the problems that have arisen are well documented - and yet not one of those problems has been addressed in this scheme.

The new tombstone is more difficult to see than formerly - and thus more difficult to photograph.

There is no paved path to the rear of the graves - and all of them (except Sir Winston's) face away from the footpath, so that to read their inscriptions it requires the public to walk on the grass around the plot - the very thing that caused so much damage in the past.

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There is no information about who is interred in other graves and the inscriptions are unreadable - thus the visitors step over the chains to get a closer look.

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The money has been spent on all the graves in the family plot, the only sum spent on Sir Winston's, was for new footings and the ugly and shoddy tablet.

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No-one is able to explain how this small amount of work can have cost such a vast - indeed wholly unrealistic, sum of money.

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If 3.5 million pounds had been spent upon a successful scheme
for Sir Winston's grave

the Society would have thought it worth every penny.

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The project clearly was not given adequate forethought (Planning permission was not required).

During the last 2000 years the principles of monumental design lettering and carving have been perfected.

This design and carving is amateurish and slipshod. The whole project should be revised and advice sought from The War Graves Commission. an example of whose work is shown below (after 70 years of exposure to the weather).

Click to enlarge

This is the grave of the young man below,
Captain Digby Manfred ffrench.
He lost his life just two months before the end of World War I.

 

 

 

Unlike incised lettering, the bad lettering above will disintegrate within a few years.

The new tablet should be replaced by the original elegant tablet (above).

It is interesting to note how silent The Royal Fine Arts Commission has been over this matter.

Observe how the letters V and C
are out of proportion as are the numerals.

 

Why two styles for the letter R
(neither correct) on the tablet?

 

 

To obtain their photograph's, each coach party of visitors who arrived during our photographer's visit included people who climbed on the wall - or stood upon the new seats - (left above and centre below photographs) to enable them to successfully photograph the grave.

Many people stepped over the new chains to get a close-up photograph of the lettering, or to read the faint text of the older headstones. Every visitor walked right round the plot. The turf cannot survive this volume of traffic.

The whole object of the scheme was to protect the graveyard and to enhance the dignity of the grave - it has done nothing for either.

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The Grave before and during restoration.

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...................Ladybird.

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