Winston Churchill born

Winston Churchill born


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Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, the British leader who guided Great Britain and the Allies through the crisis of World War II, is born at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England.

Churchill came from a prestigious family with a long history of military service and joined the British Fourth Hussars upon his father’s death in 1895. During the next five years, he enjoyed an illustrious military career, serving in India, the Sudan, and South Africa, and distinguishing himself several times in battle. In 1899, he resigned his commission to concentrate on his literary and political career and in 1900 was elected to Parliament as a Conservative MP from Oldham. In 1904, he joined the Liberals, serving in a number of important posts before being appointed Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911, where he worked to bring the British navy to a readiness for the war he foresaw.

In 1915, in the second year of World War I, Churchill was held responsible for the disastrous Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns, and he was excluded from the war coalition government. He resigned and volunteered to command an infantry battalion in France. However, in 1917, he returned to politics as a cabinet member in the Liberal government of Lloyd George. From 1919 to 1921, he was secretary of state for war and in 1924 returned to the Conservative Party, where two years later he played a leading role in the defeat of the General Strike of 1926. Out of office from 1929 to 1939, Churchill issued unheeded warnings of the threat of German and Japanese aggression.

After the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Churchill was called back to his post as First Lord of the Admiralty and eight months later replaced the ineffectual Neville Chamberlain as prime minister of a new coalition government. In the first year of his administration, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany, but Churchill promised his country and the world that the British people would “never surrender.” He rallied the British people to a resolute resistance and expertly orchestrated Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin into an alliance that eventually crushed the Axis.

READ MORE: FDR, Churchill and Stalin: Inside Their Uneasy WWII Alliance

In July 1945, 10 weeks after Germany’s defeat, his Conservative government suffered an electoral loss against Clement Attlee’s Labour Party, and Churchill resigned as prime minister. He became leader of the opposition and in 1951 was again elected prime minister. Two years later, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his six-volume historical study of World War II and for his political speeches. In 1955, he retired as prime minister but remained in Parliament until 1964, the year before his death.

READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About Winston Churchill


History of Winston Churchill and Blenheim Palace

You probably know Sir Winston Churchill as one of the most extraordinary Prime Ministers in British history. His political career spanned over six centuries. And as you probably know, he was chosen to be the Prime Minster that helped lead the allies to Victory in WWII.

But did you know Churchill was born and raised in England’s only non-royal abode to hold the title of palace? This now UNESCO-protected mansion is one of the largest and most stunning in the nation. And its history is just as fascinating as Churchill’s story. About Winston Churchill and Blenheim Palace

Winston Churchill: The man of many talents

Sir Winston Churchill may have been born into privilege, but he dedicated his entire life to public service. As well as being the 20 th -centuries greatest statesman and a celebrated war hero, Churchill was an advocate for radical, progressive social reforms and a huge defender of freedom and democracy.

As far as accomplishments go, Churchill’s countless honours and awards speak for themselves. He earned himself a British War Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Africa Star, France and Germany Star, Order of Liberation and Crosses of Military Merit to name a few. He even won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953. Quite a legacy.

Churchill comes from a long line of aristocratic politicians. Lord Randolph Churchill, Winston’s father, was a well-known figure in Conservative politics in late 19 th -century Britain. He was also a descendent of the First Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, who designed the home where Winston would spend his early life.

Blenheim Palace: The famous birthplace of Churchill

Winston Churchill was born in the extravagant Blenheim Palace over 150 years after the First Duke of Marlborough had it designed and constructed (1705 – 1722). To say it’s large would be an understatement, but it’s not its size that makes it so awe-inspiring. It was built in the short-lived English Baroque style, making it one of the most distinctive palaces in the UK.

It was constructed as a gift to John Marlborough for his military achievements, particularly his victory at the Battle of Blenheim against the French and the Bavarians. Queen Anne part-funded the grand project initially, but political infighting due to the cost of construction drew royal funding to an end. Nevertheless, the palace was completed, and it’s just as stunning today as ever.


Winston Churchill

Born – 30th November 1874, Blenheim, Oxfordshire
Parents – Lord Randolph Spencer-Churchill, Jennie Jerome
Siblings – John
Married – Clementine Hozier
Children – Diana, Randolph, Sarah, Marigold, Mary
Died – 24th January 1965, London

Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace on 30th November 1874, the eldest son of Lord Randolph Spencer-Churchill and Jennie Jerome.

The young Winston was not a good scholar and was often punished for his poor performance. In 1888 he was sent to Harrow school where he did well in History and English. In 1893 he was accepted at Sandhurst Military College. He saw action in India and the Sudan and supplemented his pay by writing reports and articles for the Daily Telegraph. In 1899 Churchill was in South Africa working as war correspondent for the Morning Post newspaper.

In 1900 he entered politics as Conservative Member of Parliament for Oldham. However, he disagreed with his party over the issue of free trade and social reform and in 1904 became a member of the Liberal party. In the 1906 General Election he was elected as Member of Parliament for Manchester North-West. In 1908 he joined the cabinet as President of the Board of Trade and set up Labour Exchanges to help the unemployed find work. He also introduced a minimum wage.

In 1911 Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. However, he resigned from government after taking much of the blame for the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in 1915. In July 1917 he returned to the government as Minister for Munitions and in 1919 became War Minister.

Divisions in the Liberal Party led to Churchill’s defeat in the election of 1922. He rejoined the Conservative Party and returned to government as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924. In 1929 the Conservatives were defeated at the election and Churchill was no longer a part of the government.

Churchill’s opposition to Indian independence, his support for Edward VIII’s abdication, his call for Britain to form an alliance with Russia and his continual warnings about the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany led to his being seen as an extremist. However, when the Second World War broke out in 1939 Churchill returned to government as First Lord of the Admiralty. When Chamberlain resigned as Prime Minister in 1940 Churchill took his place at the head of a coalition government.

As War Prime Minister Churchill was tireless in his refusal to surrender Britain to Germany. His now famous speeches were an inspiration to British people to stand firm in the face of adversity. His strong relationship with Roosevelt led to an influx of American supplies to support the war effort. He also maintained an alliance with Stalin following Germany’s invasion of Russia in 1941.

After the war Churchill lost the 1945 election but remained as Head of the opposition Conservative government. He was re-elected Prime Minister in 1951 but resigned the position in 1955. He continued to be a Member of Parliament until 1964. He died in January 1965 and was given a state funeral.

This article is part of our larger selection of posts about Winston Churchill. To learn more, click here for our comprehensive guide to Winston Churchill.


Shutters & Sunflowers

“Never before in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to….” one man.

Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

In May 1940, after the shadow of war had descended across Europe, having been ignored for years about the increasing threat of Hitler, Winston Churchill became British Prime Minister. Driven by an incredible sense of what was right he stood alone but he stood firm and using the power of his words he galvanized a nation, “mobilizing the English language and sending it into battle.” He later commented ‘It felt as if I were walking with destiny and that my whole life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial.”

Recently magnificently portrayed by Gary Oldman in ‘Darkest Hour’ (which has already won him a Golden Globe, a B.A.F.T.A and the Oscar nomination) this film leaves one in no doubt as to the accuracy of those words.

The story of this incredible man, arguably the greatest leader of all time, began a few miles from the university spires of Oxford, at Blenheim Palace Woodstock. I have written about and visited the palace often, twice last autumn. It’s somewhere I’m always drawn back to, perhaps in large part because Blenheim is one of England’s most resplendent stately homes, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987, but also because of my passionate regard for Sir Winston Churchill.

The History of Blenheim Palace

The estate and title ‘Duke of Marlborough’ was given to the army General, John Churchill, Winston Churchill’s great forebear, in 1705, by Queen Ann in recognition for his great victory at the Battle of Blenheim on August 13 1704. The palace was designed by Vanbrugh and took 17 years to build. John Churchill and his wife Sarah oversaw the project although only Sarah saw its completion.

The front of Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace remains the only property in the United Kingdom which is not a royal residence to be called a palace. This is thought to be because when it was built the locals proudly referred to it as such and the name stuck!

The Rear of Blenheim Palace

The Battle of Blenheim

The Battle of Blenheim led to the end of the War of Spanish Succession. The battle is depicted on a series of beautiful Belgian tapestries which line the walls of the palace.

Winston Churchill and Blenheim Palace

Winston always felt a deep seated connection to Blenheim Palace and his illustrious ancestor John Churchill. As a profuse historical writer Winston once remarked “The longer you look back, the farther you can look forward.” His first book was an epic biography of John Churchill. He went on to produce multi-volume works on the two world wars and then ‘The History of the English-Speaking Peoples’. In 1957 he won the Nobel Prize for literature “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values”.

Although John Churchill, was the first Duke of Marlborough, Winston was not born to the dukedom, his father Randolph, being the 3rd son to John Spencer Churchill, the 7th Duke of Marlborough. Destiny, however determined that Blenheim should be Winston’s birth place when he arrived a few weeks early during a family visit to the palace. Winston was thrilled to have been born at Blenheim.“I am proud to be born at Blenheim ….. this great house is one of the precious links which joins us to our famous past, which is also the history of the English speaking people on whose unity the future of the free world depends.”

The room at Blenheim Palace where Winston Churchill was born

The 9th Duke of Marlborough and Consuelo Vanderbilt

Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome was American and not the only American to marry into the family. Churchill’s cousin, Charles Richard John Spencer-Churchill, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, married the beautiful American railway heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt, who at just 17 was coerced against her wishes to marry the 9th Duke.

The marriage was not happy and once ‘the heir and spare’ had been born it ended in divorce. But the marriages achieved its objectives, the title’s succession was assured, the Vanderbilt money saved the Palace from near ruin and the Vanderbilts won themselves a much coveted English title.

Despite the divorce, Winston remained close to both Consuelo and his cousin (known as Sunny) who always welcomed warmly Winston to Blenheim. Throughout his life Blenheim remained dear to Winston’s heart and it was at Blenheim, in 1917 that he proposed to the love of his life Clementine Hozier, marrying her just a month later in London.

Winston Churchill as a statesman

Like his great ancestor John Churchill, Winston Churchill had an illustrious military career before following his father into politics. And just like John Churchill it was a world crisis that called him to meet his greatest challenge.

As Prime Minister, during the dark days of World War II, Winston Churchill’s courage and determination saved the nation he so loved. Refusing to contemplate defeat and to ‘never surrender’, as a master orator his speeches, broadcast around the world, inspired and strengthened the Allies’ will to defeat the common Nazi enemy.

In June 1944 when victory in Europe had been secured, this much deserved poem, on display at Blenheim, was published in the Times, in England.

St Martin’s Church, Bladon

The gargantuan, inspiring life of this great man began at Blenheim Palace and it ended on its doorstep. Sir Winston Churchill chose to be buried within the shadows of the palace, in the humble graveyard of St Martin’s, Bladon next to the Blenheim Estate.

The grave of Sir Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Churchill should never be forgotten. The Churchill Exhibition at Blenheim Palace pays homage to this great man to whom the free world will remain indebted to for eternity.

Blenheim Palace is open to the public throughout the year hosting numerous events check the website for details.

Within in an hour of London, I highly recommend a visit and do allow yourself time to spot by in adjacent, picturesque Woodstock, you won’t be disappointed!


Sir Winston and His Mother

New York Times Service article written at the time of Sir Winston Churchill’s death in 1965.

NEW YORK Sir Winston Churchill’s mother was one of the liveliest and most controversial women of her time.

Jennie Jerome, born in Brooklyn of a mother who was one-quarter Iroquois Indian, was one of the few tattooed women in high society. The dark beauty’s tattooing was a snake coiled around her left wrist.

She married Lord Randolph Churchill and for many years was a glamorous figure in English society. In the book, The Glitter and the Gold, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, the former Duchess of Marlborough, wrote of her:

“She was still, in middle age, the mistress of many hearts, and the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) was known to delight in her company. Her grey eyes sparkled with the joy of living and when, as was often the case, her anecdotes were risqué it was with her eyes as well as her words that one could read the implications. She was an accomplished pianist, an intelligent and well-informed reader and an enthusiastic advocate of any novelty.”


Lord Randolph Churchill died in1895 and in 1900 Lady Churchill married Capt. George Frederick Myddleton Cornwallis-West, an officer of the Scots Guards, who had been born the year of her first marriage. This marriage ended in divorce and in 1918 Mrs.Cornwallis-West married Montague Phippin Porch of the British Civil Service in Nigeria. Porch died on November 8, 1964, a few days before the 90th birthday of his stepson, Sir Winston Churchill.

When the South African war began in 1899, not only was young Winston off on the adventures that were to lead him to political success in the House of Commons, but also his brother, Maj. John Strange Spencer Churchill, was a serving officer in the fighting and his mother was on hand as a nursing aide on the U.S.-built hospital ship Maine.

Lady Churchill was an ardent opponent of Women’s suffrage and appeared at anti-suffrage meetings. She often accompanied her so Winston at meetings where both were heckled and booed by suffragettes.

Lady Churchill had a lively correspondence with many distinguished persons. When she invited Bernard Shaw to lunch he replied with a telegram:

“Certainly not: What have I done to provoke such an attack on my well-known habit?”

Sir Winston’s mother replied:”Know nothing of your habits hope they are not as bad as your manners.”

Lady Churchill started a magazine, The Anglo-Saxon Review, that both amused and annoyed London literary circles. It was supposed to been written and read by top-flight social personalities.

According to a plaque on the house at 426 Henry Street, Brooklyn, Jennie Jerome was born there in January 1850. Her father was Leonard Walter Jerome, a financier.

She died June 29, 1921, and is buried in the churchyard at Bladon near Blenheim Palace, the ducal seat of the Marlboroughs, next to her first husband.


7. Prisoner of War

In the 1890’s, Winston Churchill was a war correspondent for The Morning Post. He was sent to cover the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa, but once he arrived in South Africa the train he was on was ambushed and he was taken as a prisoner of war. Miraculously, Churchill managed to escape the camp.

Once back in England, the escape caused him to be regarded as a hero, which helped launch his political career.

Churchill posing in uniform, 1895.


Winston Churchill in America

On Winston Churchill's first visit to the United States after Pearl Harbor, he told a joint session of Congress that "I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British, instead of the other way round, I might have got here on my own."

Churchill, more than any other person, turned what had been a tenuous and often uneasy association between the United States and Great Britain—for all the (not always helpful) historical ties—into a special relationship.

Before World War II, isolationism and ethnic partisanship often intruded on any intimacy between the two countries. But Churchill's knowledge of the United States and its people brought his nation and ours together. His understanding of America was to a large extent the product of his visits here. From his first visit in 1895 to his last in 1961, he got to know the country and many of its statesmen, including Presidents from McKinley to Kennedy. His relationship with Franklin D. Roosevelt was one of the key elements of the Allied partnership.


Sir Winston Churchill: A biography

The aim of this page is to give a brief introduction to the career of Sir Winston Churchill, and to reveal the main features of both the public and the private life of the most famous British Prime Minister of the twentieth century.

The Child

Winston Churchill was born into the privileged world of the British aristocracy on November 30, 1874. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a younger son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough. His mother, Jennie Jerome, was the daughter of an American business tycoon, Leonard Jerome.

Winston's childhood was not a particularly happy one. Like many Victorian parents, Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill were distant. The family Nanny, Mrs Everest, became a surrogate mother to Winston and his younger brother, John S Churchill.

The Soldier

After passing out of Sandhurst and gaining his commission in the 4th Hussars' in February 1895, Churchill saw his first shots fired in anger during a semi-official expedition to Cuba later that year. He enjoyed the experience which coincided with his 21st birthday.

In 1897 Churchill saw more action on the North West Frontier of India, fighting against the Pathans. He rode his grey pony along the skirmish lines in full view of the enemy. "Foolish perhaps," he told his mother, " but I play for high stakes and given an audience there is no act too daring and too noble." Churchill wrote about his experiences in his first book The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898). He soon became an accomplished war reporter, getting paid large sums for stories he sent to the press - something which did not make him popular with his senior officers.

Using his mother's influence, Churchill got himself assigned to Kitchener's army in Egypt. While fighting against the Dervishes he took part in the last great cavalry charge in English history - at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898.

Churchill had always been determined, as he said, to beat his sword into an iron dispatch box. So in 1899 he left the army to stand for parliament. He was defeated and almost immediately left for South Africa as war correspondent for the Morning Post. Never able to resist a fight, he took part in the defence of an armoured train which had been ambushed by the Boers. He was captured and treated as a prisoner of war, but within a few weeks he escaped and made his way back to Durban. Churchill was hailed as a hero and took advantage of his status: he always treated advancement as a springboard not a sofa. He obtained a military commission from the Commander-in-Chief but continued to act as a war correspondent, enjoying many further adventures.

After his successful election to parliament in 1900, Churchill continued to trade on his military experiences and eventually became First Lord of the Admiralty. But in spirit he always remained a dashing cavalry officer and his rashness in attack often got him into trouble, notably over the Dardanelles disaster in 1915. As a result he resigned from his Cabinet post and joined the Scots Fusiliers who were fighting on the Western Front. Once again he enjoyed the experience - he actually liked the noise made by the "whiz-bangs". He was a popular and efficient officer, as well as a brave one. But his heart was at Westminster and in May 1916 he returned to the political fray.

The Politician

Churchill was first elected to parliament in 1900 shortly before the death of Queen Victoria. He took his seat in the House of Commons as the Conservative Member for Oldham in February 1901 and made his maiden speech four days later. But after only four years as a Conservative he crossed the floor and joined the Liberals, making the flamboyant gesture of sitting next to one of the leading radicals, David Lloyd George.

Churchill rose swiftly within the Liberal ranks and became a Cabinet Minister in 1908 - President of the Board of Trade. In this capacity and as Home Secretary (1910-11) he helped to lay the foundations of the post-1945 welfare state.

His parliamentary career was far from being plain sailing and he made a number of spectacular blunders, so much so that he was often accused of having genius without judgement. The chief setback of his career occurred in 1915 when, as First Lord of the Admiralty, he sent a naval force to the Dardanelles in an attempt to knock Turkey out of the war and to outflank Germany on a continental scale. The expedition was a disaster and it marked the lowest point in Churchill's fortunes.

However, Churchill could not be kept out of power for long and Lloyd George, anxious to draw on his talents and to spike his critical guns, soon re-appointed him to high office. Their relationship was not always a comfortable one, particularly when Churchill tried to involve Britain in a crusade against the Bolsheviks in Russia after the Great War.

Between 1922 and 1924 Churchill left the Liberal Party and, after some hesitation, rejoined the Conservatives. Anyone could "rat", he remarked complacently, but it took a certain ingenuity to "re-rat". To his surprise, Churchill was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer by Stanley Baldwin, an office in which he served from 1924 to 1929. He was an ebullient if increasingly anachronistic figure, returning Britain to the Gold Standard and taking an aggressive part in opposing the General Strike of 1926.

After the Tories were defeated in 1929, Churchill fell out with Baldwin over the question of giving India further self-government. Churchill became more and more isolated in politics and he found the experience of perpetual opposition deeply frustrating. He also made further blunders, notably by supporting King Edward VIII during the abdication crisis of 1936. Largely as a consequence of such errors, people did not heed Churchill's dire warnings about the rise of Hitler and the hopelessness of the appeasement policy. After the Munich crisis, however, Churchill's prophecies were seen to be coming true and when war broke out in September 1939 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain appointed him First Lord of the Admiralty. So, nearly twenty-five years after he had left the post in pain and sorrow, the Navy sent out a signal to the Fleet: "Winston is back".

The War Leader

For the first nine months of the conflict, Churchill proved that he was, as Admiral Fisher had once said, "a war man". Chamberlain was not. Consequently the failures of the Norwegian Campaign were blamed on the pacific Prime Minister rather than the belligerent First Lord, and, when Chamberlain resigned after criticisms in the House of Commons, Churchill became leader of a coalition government. The date was May 10, 1940: it was Churchill's, as well as Britain's, finest hour.

When the German armies conquered France and Britain faced the Blitz, Churchill embodied his country's will to resist. His oratory proved an inspiration. When asked exactly what Churchill did to win the war, Clement Attlee, the Labour leader who served in the coalition government, replied: "Talk about it." Churchill talked incessantly, in private as well as in public - to the astonishment of his private secretary, Jock Colville, he once spent an entire luncheon addressing himself exclusively to the marmalade cat.

Churchill devoted much of his energy to trying to persuade President Roosevelt to support him in the war. He wrote the President copious letters and established a strong personal relationship with him. And he managed to get American help in the Atlantic, where until 1943 Britain's lifeline to the New World was always under severe threat from German U-Boats.

Despite Churchill's championship of Edward VIII, and despite his habit of arriving late for meetings with the neurotically punctual King at Buckingham Palace, he achieved good relations with George VI and his family. Clementine once said that Winston was the last surviving believer in the divine right of kings.

As Churchill tried to forge an alliance with the United States, Hitler made him the gift of another powerful ally - the Soviet Union. Despite his intense hatred of the Communists, Churchill had no hesitation in sending aid to Russia and defending Stalin in public. "If Hitler invaded Hell," he once remarked, "I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons."

In December 1941, six months after Hitler had invaded Russia, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The war had now become a global one. But with the might of America on the Allied side there could be no doubt about its outcome. Churchill was jubilant, remarking when he heard the news of Pearl Harbor: "So we have won after all!"

However, America's entry into the war also caused Churchill problems as he said, the only thing worse than fighting a war with allies is fighting a war without them. At first, despite disasters such as the Japanese capture of Singapore early in 1942, Churchill was able to influence the Americans. He persuaded Roosevelt to fight Germany before Japan, and to follow the British strategy of trying to slit open the "soft underbelly" of Europe. This involved the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy - the last of which proved to have a very well armoured belly.

It soon became apparent that Churchill was the littlest of the "Big Three". At the Teheran Conference in November, 1943, he said, the "poor little English donkey" was squeezed between the great Russian bear and the mighty American buffalo, yet only he knew the way home.

In June 1944 the Allies invaded Normandy and the Americans were clearly in command. General Eisenhower pushed across Northern Europe on a broad front. Germany was crushed between this advance and the Russian steamroller. On May 8, 1945 Britain accepted Germany's surrender and celebrated Victory in Europe Day. Churchill told a huge crowd in Whitehall: "This is your victory." The people shouted: "No, it is yours", and Churchill conducted them in the singing of Land of Hope and Glory. That evening he broadcast to the nation urging the defeat of Japan and paying fulsome homage to the Crown.

From all over the world Churchill received telegrams of congratulations, and he himself was generous with plaudits, writing warmly to General de Gaulle whom he regarded as an awkward ally but a bastion against French Communism. But although victory was widely celebrated throughout Britain, the war in the Far East had a further three months to run. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki finally brought the global conflict to a conclusion. But at the pinnacle of military victory, Churchill tasted the bitterness of political defeat.

The Elder Statesman

Churchill expected to win the election of 1945. Everything pointed to his victory, from the primitive opinion polls to the cartoons in newspapers and the adulation Churchill received during the campaign, but he did not conduct it well. From the start he accused the Labour leaders - his former colleagues - of putting party before country and he later said that Socialists could not rule without a political police, a Gestapo. As it happened, such gaffes probably made no difference. The political tide was running against the Tories and towards the party which wholeheartedly favoured a welfare state - the reward for war-time sacrifices. But Churchill was shocked by the scale of his defeat. When Clementine, who wanted him to retire from politics, said that it was perhaps a blessing in disguise, Churchill replied that the blessing was certainly very effectively disguised. For a time he lapsed into depression, which sympathetic letters from friends did little to dispel.

Soon, however, Churchill re-entered the political arena, taking an active part in political life from the opposition benches and broadcasting again to the nation after the victory over Japan. In defeat Churchill had always been defiant, but in victory he favoured magnanimity. Within a couple of years he was calling for a partnership between a "spiritually great France and a spiritually great Germany" as the basis for the re-creation of "the European family". He was more equivocal about Britain's role in his proposed "United States of Europe", and, while the embers of the World War II were still warm, he announced the start of the Cold War. At Fulton, Missouri, in 1946, he pointed to the new threat posed by the Soviet Union and declared that an iron curtain had descended across Europe. Only by keeping the alliance between the English-speaking peoples strong, he maintained, could Communist tyranny be resisted.

After losing another election in 1950, Churchill gained victory at the polls the following year. Publicly he called for "several years of quiet steady administration". Privately he declared that his policy was "houses, red meat and not getting scuppered". This he achieved. But after suffering a stroke and the failure of his last hope of arranging a Summit with the Russians, he resigned from the premiership in April 1955.

"I am ready to meet my Maker," Churchill had said on his seventy-fifth birthday "whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter". Churchill remained a member of parliament, though an inactive one, and announced his retirement from politics in 1963. This took effect at the general election the following year. Churchill died on 24 January 1965 - seventy years to the day after the death of his father. He received the greatest state funeral given to a commoner since that of the Duke of Wellington. He was buried in Bladon churchyard beside his parents and within sight of his birthplace, Blenheim Palace.

The Family Man

In the autumn of 1908 Churchill, then a rising Liberal politician, married Clementine Hozier, granddaughter of the 10th Earl of Airlie. Their marriage was to prove a long and happy one, though there were often quarrels - Clementine once threw a dish of spinach at Winston (it missed). Clementine was high principled and highly strung Winston was stubborn and ambitious. His work invariably came first, though, partly as a reaction against his own upbringing, he was devoted to his children.

Winston and Clementine's first child, Diana, was born in 1909. Diana was a naughty little girl and continued to cause her parents great distress as an adult. In 1932 she married John Bailey, but the marriage was unsuccessful and they divorced in 1935. In that year she married the Conservative politician, Duncan Sandys, and they had three children. That marriage also proved a failure. Diana had several nervous breakdowns and in 1963 she committed suicide.

The Churchills' second child and only son, Randolph, was born in 1911. He was exceptionally handsome and rumbustious, and his father was very ambitious for him. During the 1930s Randolph stood for parliament several times but he failed to get in, being regarded as a political maverick. He did serve as Conservative Member of Parliament for Preston between 1940 and 1945, and ultimately became an extremely successful journalist and began the official biography of his father during the 1960s.

Randolph was married twice, first in 1939 to Pamela Digby (later Harriman) by whom he had a son, Winston, and secondly in 1948 to June Osborne by whom he had a daughter, Arabella. Neither marriage was a success.

The life of Sarah, the Churchills' third child, born in 1914, was no happier than that of her elder siblings. Amateur dramatics at Chartwell led her to take up a career on the stage which flourished for a time. Sarah's charm and vitality were also apparent in her private life, but her first two marriages proved unsuccessful and she was widowed soon after her third. Her first husband was a music hall artist called Vic Oliver whom she married against her parents' wishes. Her second was Anthony Beauchamp but this marriage did not last and after their separation he committed suicide.

In 1918 Clementine Churchill gave birth to a third girl, Marigold. But in 1921, shortly after the deaths of both Clementine's brother and Winston's mother, Marigold contracted septicaemia whilst on a seaside holiday with the childrens' governess. When she died Winston was grief-stricken and, as his last private secretary recently disclosed in an autobiography, Clementine screamed like an animal undergoing torture.

The following September the Churchills' fifth and last child, Mary, was born. Unlike her brother and older sisters, Mary was to cause her parents no major worries. Indeed she was a constant source of support, especially to her mother. In 1947 she married Christopher Soames who was then Assistant Military Attaché in Paris and later had a successful parliamentary and diplomatic career. Theirs was to be a long and happy marriage. Over the years Christopher became a valued confidant and counsellor to his father-in-law. They had five children, the eldest of whom (Nicholas) became a prominent member of the Conservative party. Christopher Soames died in 1987.

The Private Man

Churchill's enormous reserves of energy and his legendary ability to exist on very little sleep gave him time to pursue a wide variety of interests outside the world of politics.

Churchill loved gambling and lost what was, for him, a small fortune in the great crash of the American stock market in October 1929, causing a severe setback to the family finances. But he continued to write as a means of maintaining the style of life to which he had always been accustomed. Apart from his major works, notably his multi-volume histories of the First and Second World Wars and the Life of his illustrious ancestor John, first Duke of Marlborough, he poured forth speeches and articles for newspapers and magazines. His last big book was the History of the English-Speaking Peoples, which he had begun in 1938 and which was eventually published in the 1950s. In 1953 Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Churchill took up painting as an antidote to the anguish he felt over the Dardanelles disaster. Painting became a constant solace and preoccupation and he rarely spent a few days away from home without taking his canvas and brushes. Even during his tour of France's Maginot Line in the middle of August 1939 Churchill managed to snatch a painting holiday with friends near Dreux.

In the summer of 1922, while on the lookout for a suitable country house, Churchill caught sight of a property near Westerham in Kent, and fell instantly in love with it. Despite Clementine's initial lack of enthusiasm for the dilapidated and neglected house, with its overgrown and seemingly unmanageable grounds, Chartwell was to become a much-loved family home. Clementine, however, never quite overcame her resentment of the fact that Winston had been less than frank with her over the buying of Chartwell, and from time to time her feelings surfaced.

With typical enthusiasm, Churchill personally undertook many major works of construction at Chartwell such as a dam, a swimming pool, the building (largely with his own hands) of a red brick wall to surround the vegetable garden, and the re-tiling of a cottage at the bottom of the garden. In 1946 Churchill bought a farm adjoining Chartwell and subsequently derived much pleasure, though little profit, from farming.

Churchill was born into the world of hunting, shooting and fishing and throughout his life they were to prove spasmodic distractions. But it was hunting and polo, first learned as a young cavalry officer in India, that he enjoyed most of all.

In the summer of 1949, Churchill embarked on a new venture - he bought a racehorse. On the advice of Christopher Soames, he purchased a grey three-year-old colt, Colonist II. It was to be the first of several thoroughbreds in his small stud. They were registered in Lord Randolph's colours - pink with chocolate sleeves and cap. (These have been adopted as the colours of Churchill College.) Churchill was made a member of the Jockey Club in 1950, and greatly relished the distinction.

Among Winston's closest friends were Professor Lindemann and the "the three B's" (none popular with Clementine), Birkenhead, Beaverbook, Bracken. The Churchills entertained widely, including among their guests Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein and Lawrence of Arabia. Churchill regularly holidayed with rich friends in the Mediterranean, spending several cruises in the late 1950s as the guest of Greek millionaire shipowner, Aristotle Onassis.

Editorial note

Much of the information presented here was originally compiled by Josephine Sykes, Monica Halpin and Victor Brown. It was edited by Allen Packwood.


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