“The Honors program pushes you to do things you’ve never done before, or never thought you would do.”
— Logan Evans ’18
About 50 years after the death of Winston Churchill, 19 University of Lynchburg honors students paced the grounds at Chartwell, the home where the wartime British prime minister owned for more than 40 years.
The students knew Churchill from books, stories, and quotes both serious and humorous. He was the man voted the Greatest Briton of All Time. He was an inspirational force who motivated and guided his country through the darkest days of World War II.
But studying the life of Churchill in the places where he lived and worked showed them a different side of the leader’s life, including the political obstacles he overcame. “Churchill was not liked in Britain until he became prime minister,” said William “Judge” Browning ’17. “He was on the wrong side of so many controversies.”
In fact, Browning said, Churchill dubbed the 1930s his “wilderness years” because he was out of power politically. Although he saw danger in the rise of Nazism and German rearmament, he was unable to convince other Britons to share his concern until war was inevitable. Then he was charged with leading the nation through war with dogged determination to win. “We will never surrender,” Churchill famously said.
“We can all learn a lesson on courage and perseverance from Churchill,” said Logan Evans ’18, another Westover Honors student who went on the trip.
The students traveled to England as part of the Spring 2015 Westover Honors Colloquium. Dr. Edward DeClair, director of the honors program, focused the class on Churchill to challenge his students to think deeply about political history through the life of one well-known figure. “Churchill gives us a window into most of the important events of the 20th century,” Dr. DeClair said. “We’re not just studying Churchill. We’re studying Churchill as the fulcrum of other issues.”
Before the spring break study abroad trip, the class studied Churchill’s early life and political career. This prepared them to look at his life through the lens of modern memorials in Britain.
The students’ nine days in England were packed with one stop after another, including serious destinations—such as the Royal Air Force Museum—and more relaxing activities—such as a West End theatre production of The Lion King.
“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the sense of how much we managed to pack into nine days, coupled with being with classmates and knowledgeable faculty,” Browning said.
Abbigale Anderson ’16 enrolled in the course because she trusted Dr. DeClair’s recommendation for it. Although it had little to do with her major—environmental science—she felt enriched academically and socially.
Anderson admired the historical aspects of London, where buildings that are almost 1,000 years old stand aside modern structures. But she also enjoyed the chance to get out of the city and see Chartwell, Churchill’s home, in a much greener, natural setting.
On the way to the home in Kent, the group’s tour bus took a wrong turn and became lost. While the driver tried to find the right way, the students passed the time by singing together. “The awesome parts of the trip were not just the places we went to see, but getting to know the classmates we were with,” Anderson added.
For Evans, the journey to England highlighted the way the Westover Honors Program helps students expand their ways of thinking. “The Westover Honors program has challenged me to be a better student, but it has also challenged and encouraged me to get involved in as many things as I can during my tenure at LC,” he said. “The Honors program pushes you to do things you’ve never done before, or never thought you would do.”