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Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother

Chapter: 22 - 1977 - June in London - Visiting Churchill's Estate










Winston painting

(Winston Churchill Painting at His Estate In Chartwell)


In September 1977, June and Stan again flew to London for a week. This would be June's 5th trip to the UK and her favorite city of London...all within a six (6) year time period.

June was in London as a result of Stan's forensic visits to the Holland and Holland Gunmakers and the James Purdey & Sons Ltd, Gun and Rifle Makers.  June as Stan's administrative Assistant in their forensic services business, always accompanied Stan on forensic meetings and conferences.

June and Stan arrived in London via Gatwick airport on Dan-Air lines. 1977 was the year of June's 50th birthday.

A visit was also made to the London Metropolitan Police Forensic Science laboratory. London was also Stan's favorite city in Europe and Stan was always looking for a forensic reason to visit London...the crime lab and  his friends there were always a reason.


(June at the  Churchill  Estate)


June at the Winston Churchill Estate


Gordon Bruce not only was Stan and June's friend living in Bexley, Kent just south of London, but he was also an internationally known author of books on military semi-automatic pistols. Stan and Gord first met when Gord contacted Stan in 1977 requesting information on certain U.S. made semi-automatic pistols...June being June, immediately became friends of the entire Bruce family.

June's and Stan's residence during this trip to London was at the Embassy House Hotel. This Hotel is located in the Knightsbridge district of London near Albert Hall. It is on what is called "Embassy Row". It is an old but nice hotel. Several foreign embassies are located in this area. It was also conveniently near Harrods.

This fifth trip to London was also a relaxing week for June with time spent catching some of the sights and scenes missed on previous trips. Of course June found time to revisit some of her previous favorite places such as Picadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square.

June knew her way around London and had no problem getting about independently while Stan was busy with forensic conferences...June had immediately mastered the transportation system of double decker buses and the London Underground.

One pleasant sunny day found June and Stan both having lunch together on board a yacht on the river Thames. June very much enjoyed this very special way to have a relaxing lunch.

Time was again spent with the Bruce family (Gordon , Joan and children)  in nearby Bexley, Kent before returning was Joan and Gord that provided the transportation to the Churchill estate and served as our guide for the afternoon.

The Winston Churchill estate was just outside of London. This was June's second visit to the Churchill estate at Chartwell. The previous visit was simply a drive by.

This visit to the Churchill estate involved going inside the estate and spending some time exploring about the grounds, the walkways and the gardens.

One area of the estate had June's special interest. This was an area that was designed as a walkway and a flower garden. June wrote a note about this special area of the estate and also had a picture taken. June's note reads:

"Walk and flower gardens dedicated to Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine on their 50th Wedding Anniversary. A gift from their children - Sept. 21, 1977."


(June walking thought the Flower Garden)


June at Churchill's Estate in Chartwell


June was aware of my special interest in and admiration for Winston Churchill. June accordingly arranged to purchase a gift for me from "Royal Doulton" in London. The gift was a colorful ceramic ware mugg made as a "Royal Doulton" Winston Churchill figurine.

*June presented the gift to Stan during the visit to the Churchill Estate. The figurine (mugg) shows Churchill complete with his hat, coat, umbrella and the ever present, cigar. (This gift is now at the University of Minnesota Library in their rare books and special collections and a part of their Stan and June's Sherlockian and Forensic Science papers and related items.

There was also mutual exchange of gifts between the Berg's and the Bruce's. The Bruce's presented June and Stan with a gift in the form of a large silver coin in a protective plastic container. The coin was a commemorative coin with Churchill's likeness on the front side and Queen Elizabeth's bust and the date 1965 on the reverse side. June and Stan had given the Bruce's a new silver US half dollar - Kennedy Commemorative 1976 coin - in a protective plastic case as a return gift.


Gordon Bruce recalls this visit to the Churchill Estate as follows:

"We passed through the village of Westerham, where a statue of Winston Churchill is mounted on the village green, and then we turned off to Chartwell which we approached along an avenue lined with large Rhododendrons...We had a tour of Churchill's place and in particular saw his large dining  room where he had received various dignitaries throughout the war. This is the room with the large Venetian windows overlooking the grounds and the lake. June was quite interested in some of the large coloured Carp fishes swimming in another pond near the front of the building. This was where I took a photo of yourself posed in one of Churchill's pictures with a hand resting on a round stone near the entrance. We also saw part of the garden wall that had been constructed by Churchill himself during one of his periods of relaxation."


June and Joan Bruce September 1977

(June with Friend Joan Bruce - Churchill Estate)


*Notes: Chartwell was described as "Churchill's House of Refuge" by author Richard Crowhurst:

"Winston Churchill is regarded by many as the greatest Englishman of all time...He was often, simultaneously, Politician, Soldier, Writer, Historian, Artist and some-time Bricklayer. This can be seen in the gardens at Chartwell, his home of forty years near Westerham in Kent."

"To Churchill, Chartwell was his refuge, a place visied at his lowest ebb during the second World War, and  one that he loved as much as any other in his life. Yet, even as he saw out the later years of his life, Chartwell belonged to the British nation, ordained to  become a shrine to his memory. Churchill was delighted, and his spirit inhabits, the house to this day."

"Chartwell is more than just an English  Country house. The gardens, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, are delightful. Between the visitor centre and house, a slope overlooks a fishpond of huge proportions and woodland glades are set into the hillside. On the other side of the house, Churchill's famous wall borders Clementines rose garden.

Those viewing the wall for the first time are often surprised, expecting something simple. The local red bricks tower to seven and eight feet, providing  another legacy of Churchill in the 300 acres of grounds."

"The house location is as much a part of Chartwell's attraction as its former resident. The woods and valleys attracted Churchill originally and in the late forties, when the house was bought by the nation, he considered being buried there. In a change of mind typical of the great man, he later decided to be buried in the  family church at Blenheim."


(June having Tea - Bruce home -  Bruce's daughter Lynn)

June and Lynn Bruce 1977