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Great-grandson of Winston Churchill brands St George’s RAF Chapel fears ‘misinformation’

PUBLISHED: 12:03 03 October 2017

Artist's impression of Biggin Hill Memorial Museum surrounding St George's RAF Chapel of Remembrance © Robin Lee Architecture

Artist's impression of Biggin Hill Memorial Museum surrounding St George's RAF Chapel of Remembrance © Robin Lee Architecture

Archant

The wartime prime minister led the campaign to build St George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance

A descendant of wartime hero Winston Churchill has dismissed fears over a Biggin Hill chapel as ‘misinformation’.

Nearly 20,000 people have signed a petition to protect St George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance, as an extension of the post-war chapel will make way for the construction of the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum.

The petition, which brands the £5.3million museum scheme as “inappropriate and unpopular” was recently taken to Parliament, where it was handed in to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

But Randolph Churchill has dismissed the petition as “misinformation,” saying: “It was my great-grandfather, Sir Winston Churchill, who led the public campaign to build the chapel, which opened in 1951.

“He had a very special connection with Biggin Hill, both living nearby at Chartwell, and through the vital role the fighter station played as his ‘strongest link’ in the Battle of Britain. He would often stop at the chapel to reflect and remember.

“The petition has, I know, misled many people into thinking that the Chapel is being demolished and Biggin Hill’s important wartime heritage destroyed along with it. As patron of the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum I must step in and correct these rumours being circulated purposefully by the petition instigators.

“The chapel is being restored to its original beauty and is absolutely not being demolished. Removing the annex returns the chapel to its original symmetrical design intention, as fundraised for by my great-grandfather.

“Its historic features are being conserved, its mechanical and electrical systems upgraded, and historic views of the building reinstated.

“The museum being built to surround the chapel, in the style of a garden wall or cloisters, will sit quietly and low in the landscape, in deference to the historic building, which we hold so dear, with the chapel’s roof rising majestically from the centre. The museum will collect, preserve and reveal Biggin Hill’s important wartime heritage, telling the stories of those who served there and the community who supported them. The chapel will remain free to enter with longer opening hours.”

David Evans, one of the lead campaigners behind the petition said: “We have put a new picture on the petition to make it clear what part of the chapel is being demolished, there is no misinformation.

“Mr Churchill says the chapel will return to its original beauty, in the 1950s the church didn’t have this monstrosity of a museum being built next to it.”

During construction work, the chapel has been closed until November next year for all but six occasions starting with a Remembrance Sunday service on November 12.

The DCLG says it will respond to the petition “in due course”.

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