St Martin's Church, Bladon


St Martin's Church, Bladon

St Martin's Church in Bladon near Woodstock, Oxfordshire is the Anglican parish church of Bladon-with-Woodstock. It is also the mother church of St Mary Magdalane at Woodstock, which was originally a chapel of ease. It is best known for the grave of Sir Winston Churchill, which lies within its churchyard.

History

The first church on the current site was probably built around the 11th or 12th century, with the earliest references to it stating that John de London, Henry III's chaplain, obtained from the King a grant of the Manor of Bladon, with the advowson of the Rectory in 1269. The parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials date from 1545 and are kept at the Bodleian library in Oxford. There is no record of the church building itself though, until 1802 when the parish petitioned the Bishop of Oxford to grant them a new building as the old one was becoming dilapidated and dangerous. Permission was granted, the old medieval church was demolished, the 4th Duke of Marlborough paid for building materials and the new church was opened in 1804.

In 1891 further reconstruction was carried out, which involved the rebuilding of the chancel, restoration of the nave and the addition of new windows and pinnacles on the tower. This work was carried out largely at the expense of the rector, Arthur Majendie, and resulted in the creation of the present church. Because of these efforts, three windows in the chancel are dedicated to his memory by his widow and children. Other feature windows in the church include a copy of Sir Joshua Reynolds "Choir of the Cherubs". In 1893, Majendie gave a lych gate in memory of his mother. In 1937, a statue of St Martin was placed in a niche over the porch.

The Churchill connection

Sir Winston Churchill had expressed a wish to be buried at Bladon, the small village close to the family home of Blenheim. So, on January 30 1965, after his state funeral service at St Paul's Cathedral, London, his body was transported by train to Bladon. There, the private burial took place, conducted by the Rector. By contrast to the earlier service, only relatives and close friends were present.

In 1998 his tombstone had to be replaced due to the large number of visitors over the years having eroded it and its surrounding area. A new stone was dedicated in a ceremony attended by members of the Spencer-Churchill family. [cite web
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/89507.stm
title = New grave honours Churchill
accessdate = 2007-02-26
author =
date = 1998-05-08
publisher = BBC News
] However after only 8 years the gravestone had become dirty and partially eroded again. In July 2006 the area of the graveyard containing Churchill's grave was closed to the public and a cleaning and restoration project restored the gravestone (see images).

As well as Sir Winston Churchill's grave, the churchyard also contains the graves of Winston's parents Lord Randolph Churchill and Jennie Jerome, his brother Jack, his children Randolph, Diana and Sarah, and his son in law Christopher Soames. Other Churchill family members buried here include Consuelo Vanderbilt, former Duchess of Marlborough through her marriage to the 9th Duke of Marlborough, and their son Lord Ivor Charles Spencer-Churchill.

References

*"Bladon: Church", "A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12: Wootton Hundred (South) including Woodstock" (1990), pp. 31-4. [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=3359] Date accessed: 30 November 2006.

ee also

* Church of England

External links

* [http://parishes.oxford.anglican.org/bladon-woodstock/stmartin.html Official website]
* [http://www.acny.org.uk/venue.php?V=282 "A church near you" – St Martin's Church, Bladon]
* [http://www.bladonchurch.com Bladon Methodist Church]


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