Lincoln Christ's Hospital School

Lincoln Christ's Hospital School
Educating in Lincoln since 1090

 

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Winston Churchill’s Visit to Lincoln in 1902

From the Garton Archive: Item of Interest No 12

It is recorded in the 13th edition of the magazine of the Lincoln Christ’s Hospital Girls’ High School (December 1902) that the Lincoln Corn Exchange was packed with people for a visit by Winston Churchill on 21st October 1902.

Churchill, who received a ‘tremendous ovation’, commenced his lecture with an account of his visit to South Africa, alluding to the difficulties with which a war correspondent had to contend. He held his audience spell-bound as he described his capture in an armoured train. He was sent to Pretoria, and confined with several other prisoners in the State Model Schools, and his daring escape over the wall was described in graphic language. The article goes on to report that the audience was also very much interested in listening to an account of Churchill’s perilous walk through the streets of Pretoria, and his subsequent hiding among the bags of wool in a goods train, in which he journeyed for 250 miles.

There followed a long walk to the house of the Manager of the Transvaal Mining Company, and he described his stay at the bottom of a pit, in the company of white rats with pink eyes. He also described the disastrous battle of Spion Kop, the failure of which to his mind was inevitable; and (perhaps anticipating a later publication) he considered that it was ‘the darkest hour’ in the War, with the exception of Val Krantz.

Mr Churchill closed with an account of the hoisting of the Union Jack (now increasingly referred to as the Union Flag) at Pretoria, which terminated his connection with the War.

(Summarised from an article in the December 1902 edition of the LHS magazine)

Footnote

Winston Churchill joined the British army in 1893 and developed a keen interest in war correspondence. Some of his early literary works were reports on various military campaigns. This led Churchill to work as a war correspondent for The Morning Post, in which he was to cover the occurrences of the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa. Soon after his arrival in South Africa, he accompanied a scouting expedition on an armored train. The train was ambushed by the Boers and on 15th November 1899, Churchill was captured and imprisoned in a Prisoner of War camp. He managed to escape, and with the assistance of an English mine manager, made his way to Delagoa Bay. Hailed as a hero in England, Churchill then joined the army that marched on Mafikeng. On his return to England, he published a volume on his experiences during the war in South Africa.

(Adapted from South African History Online)

Peter Harrod   Garton Archive   February 2013