Winston Churchill Museum and Hummingbirds

We had a pretty decent couple of days. Tuesday after our arrival we had leftover Pepper Steak and then Wednesday Connie did a bit of work. After that Neil just didn’t feel like cooking so we headed out to the Old Post Office Bar and  Grill in town…a couple of Fat Tire Ale’s and a meat/veggie flatbread pizza later we were happy and headed home.

This morning we added up our days here, checked the weather, reviewed our options for Fun Stuff©…and then headed off to the Winston Churchill Museum here in Fulton.

Our first thought was…”why is the Churchill Museum here of all places.” What we discovered was that after WWII was over old Winston was invited here to Westminster College to give a speech…there’s an annual lecture series here funded by an endowment. Churchill came and gave turned out to be a famous speech about the dangers of the Soviet Union…and essentially predicted everything that happened during the Cold War. Anyway…after his death in 1965 the College decided to put up a museum in his honor. To house it they had a church from London that was burned out during the Blitz dismantled and moved here to Fulton…where it was rebuilt to house the museum in the basement and a church on the main floor.

Before we get into that…I wanted to put in a couple of sunset shots from our time at Carlyle Lake…not outstanding sunsets but better than none I guess.

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So…let’s talk about the church a bit. It was originally built as the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury and was founded in the late 11th or early 12th century in London. Sometime before the 16th century it received an endowment from the late Alberman Bury of London, hence the name change from the origin Church of St. Mary the Virgin. The church continued serving the city of London…surviving both the English Reformation and the Restoration and became one of the prominent London Puritan parishes in the 17th century. On September2, 1666 the Great Fire of London started, burning for 5 days and leaving the church in ruins. The church was rebuilt and enlarged between 1670 and 1677 under the direction of astronomy professor Christopher Wren. The church then remained pretty much unchanged until WWII…when it was burned again during the Blitz…and due to lack of funds was left in ruins until the late 1960s. At that point it was dismantled and the columns, stone from the outer walls, and stone from the lower portion of the tower were shipped to the United States…no charge for the shipping as they were used as ship’s ballast during the transit…then carried via train to Missouri. The present church was rebuilt to basically Wren’s design and the museum was constructed in the basement.

We learned an awful lot about the life, times, and achievements of Winston Churchill…including several offbeat items that he was largely responsible for.

First up…you know what a tank is, right? One of those armored vehicles with treads…everybody knows that of course. What you might not know is that the idea was first championed by Churchill before WWI and where the term tank actually came from. As Paul Harvey would say…here’s the rest of the story. What we now know as a tank as originally called a land ship since it was the British Admiralty under Churchill that was responsible for developing it. To keep the invention a secret from Germany in the pre-WWI days…it was referred to as Water Closets for Russia…but then somebody noticed that this might be abbreviated as WC’s for Russia…WC or water closet being the British term for a toilet. Since this was considered a poor name…the Admiralty started referring to them as Water Tanks for Russia…which eventually got shortened to tank and the name carried forward to today.

Next up…we found out why the boss in the James Bond 007 novels was named M and the chief geek was named Q. It turns out that back in the early days of the Cold War the two main British intelligence agencies were  MI5 being the Security Service and responsible for domestic security while MI6 was the Secret Intelligence Service and was responsible for foreign intelligence. The first head of MI6 was Captain Mansfield Cumming…who happened to sign all of his documents with just a capital C. This practice was continued by his successors and was very likely the inspiration for 007’s boss being named M.

We also got a couple nice shots of the church interior as well as one of a piece of the Berlin Wall that was added as an outside display at the museum…since Churchill largely predicted what would happen during the Cold War the directors thought it was appropriate. We also got a free piece of the Berlin Wall since this is D-Day weekend as well.

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With that…we headed home and had dinner…Neil made Sauerbraten out of the last of the Pepper Steak…it tasted pretty good. After that he wandered over near the campground office since the owners have a bunch of hummingbird feeders outside…and did get a few shots of them. There were a couple of dozen flitting between the various feeders…I think they’re all Ruby Throated Hummingbirds…the males have the red throat feathers while the females do not.

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They’re a little grainy…but it was almost dark and Neil pushed the camera ISO…or effective sensor speed…up to it’s maximum of 6400. Even then he could only get the shutter speed down to about 1/500 of a second…hence the blurriness in the hovering bird’s wings…which are actually moving at about 80 beats per second. He wanted some stop action shots…but not today, hopefully we’ll have a brighter day before we leave and he can get some better lit shots. He likes these pretty well though.

Tomorrow we’re off to a hike at a the Big Muddy National Wildlife Refuge and then lunch at a winery across the Missouri River from here…then home for leftover pizza from last night for dinner.


About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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