As Britain prepares to bid farewell to its third Prime Minister in seven years a question I’m asked… ‘where do PMs go when they die?’
Though, of course while Boris Johnson will very much reappear large as life in public life.
Politically, he’s a dead parrot.
And so for the day that’s in it here’s a brush stroke on where PMs go when they leave No.10 Downing Street.
And where as a tourist you can find them.
Sing when you’re Winnie
Winston Churchill, Chartwell House: And the most famous British PM of them all.
He was as much at home in Chartwell House as No.10 Downing Street.
Chartwell House in Kent in the south of England was the wartime leader’s family home.
Though he spent much of those years in the fascinating War Rooms in Westminster in London.
Walking around Chartwell is like entering a time warp with the decor still 1930s.
And, of course, there are gifts to Winnie, and keepsakes, and his own art.
Britain’s champion is buried not as many think in Westminster Abbey.
But in Bladon, Oxfordshire where the noble Marlborough family go to die.
Give it Welly
Duke of Wellington, Stratfield Saye House: Arthur Wellesley, for it is he, is the last Irish Prime Minister of the UK.
Born in Dublin, he might not be the most popular man in that island.
He did after all coin the putdown ‘you don’t have to be a horse to be born in a stable.’
But he has a special place in Britain as the victor of Waterloo.
And you can glory in his success at Stratfield Saye House in Hampshire.
With selected tours over the spring and summer.
Lloyd George knew my father
Lloyd George Museum, Cricieth, North Wales: And no, he didn’t, the WW1 leader was more my grandfather’s vintage.
Although he had him fighting in the trenches for the Canadian Army then.
Neither David Lloyd George and Grandpa George were born with silver spoons.
And you can see Lloyd George’s humble beginnings in the Lloyd George Museum in Llanystumdwy, Cricieth.
Perhaps the best example of where he started and where he finished lies in the shoemaker’s workshop and the Versailles Treaty.
Big shoes to fill for those who follow.
The daddy of them all
Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall, Norfolk: And you’ll have heard his spirit magicked up these past days.
As Britain’s first PM and one who lasted the longest, nearly 21 years.
Despite Boris Johnson and his lick spittle Jacob Rees-Mogg raised the possibility that BoJo could last that long.
And that was fantasy.
Walpole’s estate in Norfolk, East Anglia is 300 years old this year, so a good time to flag it up and reconnect with history.
Happy Ever Arthur
Arthur Balfour, Whittingehame, East Lothian: Not a PM whose name rolls off the tongue.
He is best associated with the Middle East through his Balfour Doctrine.
And he only served for three and a half years, which will be longer than BoJo, or should that be BoGo?
But Balfour whose stint was in the early years of the last century lies just up the road from me now.
In his homestead of Whittingehame.
While he was also a keen golfer tutored by the clubmaker Ben Sayers.
And that’s just outside my War Room window in North Berwick.
When it came to the offer of a State Funeral Balfour turned it down.
Can’t imagine when Boris Johnson’s time comes that he’d be afforded the same offer.
So where do PMs go when they die?
Well, in the end it’s for the Man Upstairs to decide.
But perhaps the inscription on his grave will be…
’Here lies former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and lies and lies and lies.’