David Lloyd George (17th January 1863 to 26th March 1945)

 

While diving through Criccieth in Wales in the motorhome I was desperate for water. Cutlery crashed around in a cupboard as I went over a small bridge too quickly. Bridges often span water and this one did. I went down to the water’s edge with my 30 litre-tank. This was the River Dwyfor and about a hundred metres up on the riverside rests David Lloyd George, the only Welsh speaker to become Prime Minister. He was voted the third greatest British prime minister of the 20th century and named among the 100 Greatest Britons.

 

You don’t expect to find a PM buried by a river do you but David’s childhood home is nearby, he used to play in this river as a boy and knew the surrounding fields. I went to have a look, walking about fifty metres up Maen-y-Wern Lane which consisted of stone cottages to one side. On the left are hedges and suddenly a stone archway appears and the grave is just there marked by a boulder. He wanted to be buried in the ancient Welsh customer of being in land over which cattle may graze. I saw a path running alongside the river and people probably walked their dogs there though I doubt cattle will graze there.

 

A quick summary: he was born a long way from here - in Manchester (and a long way from 10 Downing Street) in 1863 and raised by his uncle who was a shoemaker lay preacher in North Wales. Aged 21 he was a solicitor with this own practise, defending those that broke poaching laws. Rural Welsh farmers and quarry workers loved him and this helped him become elected to Parliament aged 27.

 

Up the tree he went and by 45 he was Chancellor of the Exchequer under Prime Minister Herbert Asquith and he was one of the main people who introduced reforms that lead to the current NHS.  A world war threatened and as black clouds brewed over Europe a vivid, highly energetic man was needed to put some steel in the nation’s spine. Aged 52 David was Munitions Minister and he helped put the power behind a knockout blow against Germany, demanding government didn’t rest for a moment and ensuring a consistent flow of guns and shells were sent to the Western Front. He became Prime Minister of the Wartime Coalition Government during the First World War. The newspapers and public loved him but he gained many political enemies.

 

After the war he was a seminal player at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 that put Europe back into order. He remained Prime Minister after the 1918 general election but not for long. The Liberals split their support between David and Herbert Asquith and they lost to the Conservatives. He became the Liberal party leader but liberalism declined and he never held office again.

 

Dull politics aside he had five children by his first wife Margaret (one child died at 17 as appendix was removed.) He had a justified reputation as a womaniser and though publically was known as The Welsh Wizard he was privately known as "the Goat". Aged 80 “the Goat” married again to his secretary and mistress Frances Stevenson (to his children’s regret.) He died of cancer aged 82 at his beloved home near this grave.

 

I climbed into the stonework to touch the boulder as I might not come this way again. Under me was a man known as one of the greatest Welshman who ever lived (even though he was born in Manchester.) This link shows the funeral…

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6Wefxnk1BU

 

I quickly climbed off the grave as some dog walkers were passing by and hoped they hadn’t been me by the boulder. Who’d have thought the man under than boulder who often walked up this country lane as a wee boy would become one of the "Big Three" (with Georges Clemenceau of France and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson) who helped negotiate the Treaty of Versailles with Germany after the biggest war the world had seen so far?

 

I set off back to the motorhome to have a shower after a morning walking in hot sunshine. Nearby I passed Highgate, the house where David lived as a boy for sixteen years. I did a hearty salute and left. You don’t find many prime minister’s by a river do you?

 

Some footage of the grave is here...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVaqmJAIno0

 

 

 

 

On the day of the funeral…

 

He was brought up on a cart…

 

Just up the lane you turn left through this arch and the grave is there…