In 2006 I visit Blenheim Palace on an Elder Hostel Tour. I was flabbergasted that one man even a high performing general would be paid so much money to build a pile of stones filled with innumerable art and sculpture. I guess when you win battles for a nation in the old days you could write your own ticket.
Last night I watched the mini series about Jenny Jerome, who was married to the younger brother of the Duke of Marlborough, who were the parents of Winston Churchill.
Jenny did not like living in the pile of stone surronded by costly furnishings and a whole phalanx of servents, but that is where artisitc licence of movie making came in.
When Winston was born, she was a visitor to the family pile, and delivered Winston in a small room which was used as a cloakroom. It was about the size of a suburban bedroom but with higher ceilings and a fireplace.
Winstons father became the Chancellor of the Exchecher , and held several posts in government although not the highest one. He did not have a close relationship with his oldest son, but after Lord Randolph died, Winston wrote his biography, which was I am sure laudatory.
When we think of Winston Churchill, we think of the hero of the war that defeated Hitler. It makes him loom large in our memory, but in reality he was a short man, driven to excel. He also was perenially short of funds following the upperclass British habit of living on credit. He went off to place himself in harms’ way during the Boer War in South Africa, and wrote books about his adventures afterwards. This was a good source of income, and proved to be a constant even when he was out of government.
If we had a bar graph to show the size of the life of Winston Churchill, it would start out with a little tiny box in the beginning, rise like a skyscraper from the time he entered government to when he was booted out of office after losing the election after World War II. The end bar would also be tiny as his grave is in a small churchyard among a few dozen other sleepers.
So- born in a cloakroom, rise to greatness, fall to obscurity, and suffering his grave to be turned into a garbage pit by tourists who could care less about an illustrious name.
Later to restore the community pride, the cemetary gained a support group that cleaned up the site and maintained it.
It still strikes the visitor as a too humble resting place for a great man, even if it is within sight of the Blenhaim Palace where he began life.