“No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle,” Winston Churchill said. He loved animals and hated vegetarianism. He was both praised and criticized for his writings, speeches, and views. He was a complex man of great wit & humor whose entrance scores to Harrow were “very poor”. In fact, he didn’t begin to do relatively well in school until he went to Sandhurst and found his niche in the cavalry. Visitors to the Winston Churchill Memorial and Library, the National Churchill Museum, on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton, MO, leave with a complete picture of him. The only museum in North America dedicated to his memory, it’s a 5 Compass destination.
If Downton Abbey’s Robert and Cora Crawley had a son, he would surely have been like Winston who was born at Blenheim Palace. Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome, was an American whose social life came first. She packed Winston off to boarding school at the age of 7 and sometimes wouldn’t permit him to come home for holidays. It’s not surprising that he attached himself to his nanny, Elizabeth Everest, who sounded like a blend of Mrs. Patmore, Downton’s Abbey’s chief cook, and Sarah O’Brien, Lady Grantham’s maid and confidant.
This satisfyingly complete memorial to one of the 20th century’s great leaders is on a college campus in Missouri basically for one reason. A small liberal arts college with 1,100 students, Westminster has always had a global perspective. 17% of its students are from countries other than the U.S. In 1937 a lecture series sponsored by the John Findley Green Foundation kicked off. Churchill was its 7th speaker. He traveled to Jefferson City by train with then President Harry Truman. On the way, they played poker and drank whiskey. The speech Churchill gave was called “The Sinews of Peace”, but it’s less remembered for its name than for a phrase in it. “An iron curtain has descended across the continent,” Churchill intoned in 1946.
In 1961, Westminster’s President Robert Davidson read an article in Life magazine about Christopher Wren, England’s greatest architect. After the devastating London fire of 1666, Wren was responsible for the rebuilding of 56 churches. One of them was the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, which had been a parish church since the 13th century. Shakespeare lived a block from it. Puritans worshiped there. It was destroyed a 2nd time by Nazi incendiary bombs in World War II’s London Blitz. Targeted for demolition, St. Mary’s was rescued by Dr. Davidson who decided to bring what was left of it to Fulton. Completely & grandly restored like Lake Havasu’s London Bridge, it’s accessible up a flight of stairs atop the Churchill Museum.
St. Mary’s & Churchill memorabilia including 4 of his paintings aren’t the only reasons to go to Fulton and find this campus. There’s a portion of the Berlin Wall outside NCM, special events galleries full of interesting current art, etc. If you haven’t visited for more than 10 years like me, you will be amazed at this Museum’s transformation resulting from a recent remodel.
I only had one regret on the day Ruth and I visited. The main reason I wanted to return to National Churchill Museum was to see its map of the “New World” drawn by a crew member on Christopher Columbus’ 1st voyage. It’s not currently on display.