On January 24, 1965, at 8:00 a.m., Sir Winston Churchill died at his London home, 28 Hyde Park Gate. The outpouring of affection and respect was enormous. Indeed, putting matters in perspective, in its issue of January 23, 1965, the day before Churchill died, the Economist wrote: "We will boast all our lives that we lived when Winston Churchill was alive. ... Winston Churchill, like Lincoln, need not wait for the verdict of posterity to be called great."
Chartwell, his home in Kent (near Westerham), which he bought in 1922, was purchased by a group of his friends and supporters in 1947. It was presented by them to the nation with the stipulation that Winston and Clementine could live there for the rest of their lives. Baroness Churchill, as she became, survived Sir Winston, dying on December 12, 1977. Since Chartwell became a part of the National Trust, it has become one of the most visited N.T. properties in England.
Churchill's funeral was itself an extraordinary event, perhaps meriting the description, as Churchill scholar Andrew Roberts has written, "the grandest state funeral for a commoner since that of the Duke of Wellington in 1852, even overshadowing William Gladstone's in 1898."
The BBC's homage to the "Great Commoner", which was first broadcast on January 30, 1965, can be viewed on the BBC website.
November 17, 2014
If there is a theme to this autumn's Ottawa Churchill Society addresses, it is some of the lesser-known sides of Churchill. We began with the Michael McMenamin October address on a hitherto obscure, but important, Churchillian mentor. In November we shall embark on what the urbane, charming New Yorker Barry Singer has characterized as an address on Winston Churchill's "decisive personal style".
The book on which Barry Singer's address draws is aptly entitled Churchill Style but it is the sub-title that tells us what and how its author tackles his subject: "The Art of Being Winston Churchill". Churchill's politics, history, leadership, personal strengths have led to hundreds and hundreds and more hundreds of biographical volumes tackling such elements of his greatness. Barry Singer, though, will recount the saga of Churchill's life away from politics: his pastimes, his friendships, his cars, his cigars, his books (the ones he read, not wrote), his fashion, his homes, his dining, his imbibing, and so on. In all, sides of Churchill that are light, charming, different, (occasionally) extravagant, and largely unknown.
And Singer does know his subject. Among other things, he has, since 1983, been the proprietor of the only non-virtual bookshop in the world devoted to the works of Winston Churchill, CHARTWELL BOOKSELLERS in New York City. Singer has also been a regular contributor to The New Yorker, New York magazine, The New York Times Magazine and, for more than a decade, to The New York Times Arts & Leisure section, writing regularly on theatre, opera and popular music. He recently began blogging about the arts, literature and Winston Churchill for the Huffington Post.
He will speak to the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Ottawa on November 17. If you wish to attend, please e-mail the Society. Copies of his book will be available for purchase and inscription by the author.
Michael McMenamin, the author of the critically acclaimed Becoming Winston Churchill: The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor, will speak to the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Ottawa on October 16th. The event will begin at 5:30. Members wishing to attend should e-mail the Society.
Churchill's mentor was Bourke Cockran, an Irish-born, French-educated, American politician, who represented various New York Congressional Districts (non-consecutively) between 1887 and 1923. Essentially unknown today, he was then a successful lawyer and had earned a national reputation as a brilliant political orator.
Born (in Ireland) just six weeks after Lady Randolph Churchill (who was born in Brooklyn), Cockran met her in Paris in 1895, where Jennie was travelling with her sisters some months after the death of Lord Randolph in late January. Michael will elaborate on the relationship that developed between them. Then, with Lady Randolph's introduction, on young Winston's first trip to New York City in November that year, he met Cockran, from whom he learned much about powerful oratory and policy principles. Cockran became a mentor for Churchill and was frequently consulted by Winston, up to the American's untimely death in 1923 (less than two years after Jennie's death).
The fascinating story, which is not broadly known, will be told by American author and Churchill expert Michael McMenamin. Michael is also a contributing editor for the libertarian magazine Reason. His work has appeared in two Reason anthologies and The Churchills in Ireland, 1660-1965, Corrections and Controversies. He is also, with his son Patrick, the author of three Winston Churchill thrillers, The Parsifal Pursuit, The DeValera Deception and The Gemini Agenda.
Lady Soames was the youngest of Winston and Clementine's five children, and the last surviving child. Born on September 15, 1922, she was 91 at the time of her death. She had, in terms of longevity, outlived Sir Winston, who died on January 24, 1965 at the age of 90. In addition to keeping the memory of her father green, she was an accomplished writer in her own right. From the biography of her mother, through the wonderfully revealing portrait of her parents' marriage in her 700+ page collection of their correspondence, to her final work, A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston Churchill's Youngest Child, she was a frank, witty and captivating writer. She won the Wolfson History Prize and was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She was also named a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) and a Lady Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (LG).
Lady Soames was a great friend of Canada, and was the Patron of the oldest and newest Churchill Societies, namely, the Rt. Hon. Sir Winston S. Churchill Society of Edmonton (1963) and the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Ottawa (2011). When she was still travelling regularly, she also spoke to the various Canadian Churchill Societies.
Her husband, Lord Soames, died in 1987. She is survived by their five children, Nicholas, Emma, Jeremy, Charlotte and Rupert, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
You may also be interested in reading the lovely interview with Lady Soames by Graham Turner, first published in the Daily Telegraph and then in issue #116 of Finest Hour (Autumn 2002).
Churchill is often credited with the invention of the tank.
SWCSO members will have an unusual opportunity to hear more about that well-known relationship of the inventive Churchill with the mechanical vehicle created, among other things, to respond to the demands of World War I trench warfare. Originally known as "landships", looking very different from what they rapidly became, travelling at the breathtaking speed of 4 mph, the tank changed the nature of land-based conflict.
The date for "Churchill and Tanks" is Thursday, June 19, 2014 at General Dynamics, 1941 Robertson Road, in Bells Corners. Canapés and beverages will be served. There will be no charge for the event. For those wishing to see the M1A1 tank, climb on it and peer into, but not enter, the rather confined interior (claustrophobics need not apply!), come to G.D. at 6:30. All others wishing to attend the presentation should be there at 7:30. Please e-mail ChurchillSociety@chartwellcomm.com to advise us of your intention to attend.
See also: summary of this event including photos.
On November 29, 2013, the Hon. Celia Sandys, granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill, spoke at Earnscliffe on her personal memories of her grandfather. The event was nothing short of triumphant. Celia mixed delightful, personal memories with history, anecdotes, warmth and good humour in her painting of a private side of her grandfather, on the evening just one day short of the 139th anniversary of his birth.
On Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm, SWCSO members and guests attended a superb lecture by Lynne Olson, author of Troublesome Young Men and Citizens of London, at the Residence of the American Ambassador David Jacobson and Mrs. Julie Jacobson. Ms. Olson spoke about her new book, Those Angry Days (published March 26), which deals with the subject of American isolationism during the Second World War (prior to Pearl Harbor). It was a great success.