The night of Friday, 29th January 1965, was one of bitter rain and snow but that didn’t stop many men and women from taking up their positions for the following day’s state funeral.
While they were taking their places in the cold and wet the the Earl Marshal, Duke of Norfolk, was rehearsing the pallbearers duties inside St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Throughout that day and night there was a steady drumbeat, beating out the minutes in that day-long final flurry of rehearsals for the nation’s last tribute to Sir Winston Churchill.
The sound of 65 beats to the minute on a black-draped drum started in the pre-dawn darkness and echoed eerily through empty streets as 5,000 Servicemen escorted the heavy gun carriage and a lead-weighted coffin in a ghostly parade along the funeral route. Come the morning daylight that will carry Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill in the first stage of his final resting place.
The troops left Westminster as Big Ben struck 04.45 a.m.
Quite some time ago I worked for a few months in the old Tourist Information centre that was down below ground in the Peterborough Cathedral Precincts. I experienced one or two ‘funny’ happenings during my time there. A couple of times things fell off shelves with no-one near them. It was just as if someone had picked it up and dropped it. The trouble was – each time I was the only one there, and I was two/three yards or more away from the incident! A couple of mornings when I came in I found a colleague or two clearing up some things lying on the floor at the back of the room. That had not been there when we had locked up the previous evening!
On the left just inside the entrance were the toilet facilities – facilities that fulfilled the needs of both genders. A while after I had left I was talking to one of the staff – now an all ladies team. With a chuckle she told me that it was a good for me that I had left. My obvious response was to ask ‘Why?’ It was then that she told me that there had been a number of incidents where they had tidied up before leaving to go home – and when they came in the next morning, opened the door to the ‘facilities’, they found the toilet seat up! Nothing else had been moved!
It’s a darn good job I was no longer there! That TIC has been closed for quite some time now – the new one is up above ground level in Bridge Street. I wonder if things still happen down, below ground, in the Precincts!