03 March 2017
A folder with the ceremonial funeral details and route maps of the State Funeral of the Late Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill K.G., O.M., C.H. on the 30 January 1965 was up for auction last month.
'Operation Hope Not' was the code name given to Churchill's funeral which had been planned for some years prior to his death in London on the 24th of January 1965 of a stroke. It was the first state funeral given to a civilian and can only be described as one of the most meticulously planned events in modern history given its scale and significance.
The vendors grandfather had been in the police force and was involved in part of the funeral arrangements. He retired soon afterwards and never really talked about his involvement in the funeral organisation. After his death, his family found an envelope titled 'Her Majesty's Service' and dated 26 January 1965, Commissioner's Office and inside they found the documents in a folder. They detailed the movements of military and civilian organisations for the funeral parade, organised Special District Orders by Major-General E.J.B. Nelson, General Officer Commanding London District and Major-General Commanding The Household Brigade, Headquarter, London District, Horse Guards, Whitehall, S.W.1. The folder contained parts I to XIV, listing instructions, procession, street lining, minute guns, ceremonial orders, private joinery from London to Bladon, orders of conferences and rehearsals and maps.
The plans were implemented on a grey Saturday morning in January 1965, four days after the death of the former Prime Minister. The funeral plans included an extraordinary procession through London, a ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral, dispatch from the Tower of London by river launch, a military fly past, construction cranes lining the Thames and a train from Waterloo Station to Churchill’s burial place at Bladon in Oxfordshire – all arranged with military precision.
The Duke of Norfolk led the organisation of events. Tens of thousands had lined the route and television and radio coverage reached almost 900 million people world-wide. The British Royal family were attending as well as the monarch and many other world leaders were also present.
The documents realised a price of £472 including auctioneers commission.