A museum recognizing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the middle of America?
Churchill delivered one of his greatest speeches on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton during a 1946 visit with President Harry S. Truman. Truman, a Missourian, recommended Churchill visit the college to receive an honorary degree.
Churchill warned of the dangers of the Cold War with his speech, “the Iron Curtain.” It was his attempt to have the western countries prevent the communist eastern bloc nations from expanding their politics in Europe.
A year later, the Berlin Wall went up separating the German city into east and west. West Berlin was protected by the World War II allies, while East Berlin was part of the communist bloc.
Westminster College leaders wanted to memorialize the 1946 visit. Talk eventually led to buying an old church in London and having it shipped to Fulton. Once reconstructed, it would serve as a spot to recognize the significance of the Churchill visit.
The church itself has a story. Built in 1200, it was known as the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. It was destroyed in a fire in 1666, as part of the Great Fire of London. William Shakespeare lived near the church at the time of its destruction.
Sir Christopher Wren dreamed of rebuilding the city. The church was rebuilt – the ninth to be done during the city’s reconstruction – with the finishing touches completed in 1679.
The church was bombed during Nazi Germany’s attacks on London. All that remained were the walls.
In 1961, college leaders agreed to pursue the church as a memorial to Churchill. After raining $2 million ($10 million today), the school bought the church. The process took about two years – from dismantling the church and reconstructing it in Fulton. About 7,000 stones were involved.
The church is on the second level of the museum. A spiral staircase takes visitors from the museum to the church, which is used for services and events.
The window in the staircase offers an amazing view of the campus.
It’s a beautiful facility. The altar has an impressive design using the Ten Commandments.
The Churchill Museum offers an in-depth look into the life of the man who guided the British through World War II.
Born into a family of prominence, Churchill didn’t have a great relationship with his father. It was likely typical of that era. Fathers didn’t show a lot of affection to kids back then.
Once, though, the youngster asked his father to conduct a military inspection of his toy soldiers. The elder Churchill acquiesced. The miniature soldiers passed. An exhibit displays the type of toy soldiers young Winston may have played with.
Later in life, Churchill served as a politician during World War I. He pushed for a maneuver involving the British Navy that failed. There were mass casualties, and he suffered the brunt of the blame.
He was named the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a largely politically-empty position. Feeling banished from political life for the moment, Churchill joined the British Army and served in France. He loved the battlefield.
The WWI exhibit showcases life in the trenches.
A military uniform from the era is on display.
Following World War I, Churchill eventually climbed his way back into the world of politics. He succeeded Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister following Chamberlain’s resignation in 1940.
By then, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party had risen to power and was invading other countries.
He led Great Britain during World War II. The museum looks at life in London and other European cities during the war.
A special item that jumped out at us was the replica of the “Enigma” machine. It was a secret communication device that took several years for the Allies to crack. The actual Enigma machine is in London.
The museum then takes a look at the Cold War. The “Iron Curtain” actually started shortly after the end of World War II and lasted until 1991.
A checkpoint is displayed that could be routinely seen between West and East Berlin.
A briefcase is featured in the display, as spies played a big role on both sides.
The Cold War lasted until the Berlin Wall came down, following a series of major setbacks for the eastern Bloc nations, led by then the-Soviet Union.
The museum takes a look at Churchill’s post-political life. He enjoyed writing and painting.
The man also had a “mug for a mug.” Several items bearing his likeness are displayed.
The Churchill Museum is home to a piece of the Berlin Wall. “Breakthrough,” an art piece by Churchill’s granddaughter Edwina Sandys, stands near the church building. Sandys used eight pieces of the Berlin Wall to create the project.
The Churchill Museum recognizes a local man, who served in the Royal Air Force during the early years of World War II. Lt. John F. Lutz of Fulton volunteered for the RAF before the United States entered the war. He died after his plane was shot down.
The museum also hosts special exhibits. “We March Together” – a display highlighting a series of World War II-related posters – will be at the Churchill through Sept. 13th.
For more information on the museum, please visit www.nationalchurchillmuseum.org.