50 years ago today, Sir Winston Churchill died at the age of 90 with his wife Lady Clementine Churchill and other members of the family at his bedside at his London home at Hyde Park Gate.
He suffered a stroke on 9th January 1965 and gradually slipped into a deep sleep from which he never awakened. Earlier in his illness, there had been crowds anxiously waiting for news at the top of the quiet Kensington cul-de-sac – but when the announcement finally came there was only a handful of journalists in the street.
News of his death was announced on the BBC shortly after 0800 GMT and within half-an-hour; crowds began to gather near his home to pay homage to Britain’s greatest wartime leader.
When Sir Winston fell ill, he was visited by one of the country’s leading neurologists, Lord Brain, who advised on his treatment.
Members of the family were summoned to his bedside at 0700 GMT. Lady Churchill and the couple’s eldest surviving daughter, Mary Soames, were with him throughout his illness.
Many television and radio programmes were cancelled or re-scheduled to make way for tributes to Sir Winston.
Sir Winston lay state in Westminster Hall, an honour not accorded any English statesman since Gladstone in 1898. During the three days lying-in-state, 321,360 people filed past the catafalque and huge silent crowds lined the route to St Paul’s cathedral in London for the funeral on 27th January.
Sir Winston Churchill was laid to rest in the Oxfordshire parish churchyard of Bladon, with only family members present at the private burial. The church lies just outside the Blenheim estate, where he was born.