Other Notable Deaths


December 22, 2007


Broke family mold

Arabella Spencer-Churchill, a granddaughter of Britain's wartime prime minister whose unconventional enthusiasms included a role as co-founder of the Glastonbury rock festival, died of pancreatic cancer yesterday at her home there, in England's West Country, her family said.

Although born to privilege as the daughter of Winston Churchill's son Randolph, Ms. Spencer-Churchill rebelled early.

"I was no good at being a Churchill," she told The Independent newspaper this summer. She had been a model in the late 1960s, a hippie traveling in Africa and Asia, and a squatter in London running a restaurant for fellow squatters before finding a more settled life in Glastonbury.

Arriving in 1971 in Glastonbury, then a sleepy town in the countryside of Somerset, she worked with a friend to organize a festival marking the summer solstice. The festival was a failure. Eight years later, she returned to organize another festival. It ran up heavy losses.

But a local farmer, Michael Eavis, paid off the debt, took over as organizer and turned the festival into the huge success it became by the mid-1990s, when it regularly drew half a million people.

With her husband, Ian McLeod, known as Haggis, a former professional juggler, Ms. Spencer-Churchill oversaw the small army of circus and theater performers - among them sword-swallowers, contortionists and fire-breathers - who became major draws at Glastonbury. She also founded a charity, Children's World, that uses theater and circus entertainment as therapy for disabled children.

Ms. Spencer-Churchill was exposed early in life to the irregular habits, including heavy drinking and marital breakdowns, that opened a rift between Winston and Randolph Churchill, who added the Spencer to his name.

A teenage beauty, Ms. Spencer-Churchill first came to public notice as London's Debutante of the Year in 1967. But she later recalled how her quirky independence - flirting with left-wing causes, running away from home to join her hippie friends - irked her father and mother, June Osborne, the daughter of a highly decorated army officer.

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