Churchill's ancestry revealed up close
Speeches We Shall Fight on the Beaches and Never Was so Much
Owed by So Many to So Few made Winston Churchill a British
As an inspirational Prime Minister he led the Allies to victory
during the Second World War and a new exhibition at his former Kent
home is focusing on the Anglo-American ancestry which made him such
a remarkable man.
In The Blood is the first-ever temporary exhibition at
Chartwell, near Westerham, and looks at the two branches of
Churchill’s family – the Jeromes of New York and the Marlboroughs
Visitors can find out about American grandmother Clarissa, who
is thought to have had Iroquois Indian blood. The battlefield
heroics of Churchill’s ancestor John, 1st Duke of Marlborough, are
Of the 50 objects on show, half have never been on public
display before, taking visitors behind the scenes of Churchill’s
childhood to reveal his touching relationship with his beloved
nanny, as well as his complex relationships with his mother and
father, Lord and Lady Randolph.
Winston’s great-grandson, Randolph Churchill, has loaned many
personal items for the exhibition.
He said: “I am delighted to have been able to loan a number of
family objects for display at Chartwell this winter.
“This exhibition shines a light on Winston’s parents and his
forefathers who were so important in giving him the backbone he had
in the dark days of 1940. Indeed, he later wrote of that time: ‘I
felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life
had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial’.”
British historian Professor Sir David Cannadine said: “It is a
timely innovation at Chartwell to begin holding and hosting
exhibitions which help us to understand more fully the
extraordinary range and richness of Churchill’s life. His
Anglo-American ancestry was very important to him personally, and
became very important to him politically. In the Blood helps us
understand how and why this was so.”
:: A pair of duelling pistols and Garter Star
belonging to Churchill’s 17th century ancestor John, 1st Duke of
Marlborough, builder of Blenheim Palace.
:: A charcoal drawing of Churchill’s glamorous
Brooklyn-born mother Jennie Jerome by society artist John Singer
:: Diamond, ruby and sapphire rings given by
Churchill’s father to his mother which have been reunited
especially for this exhibition.
:: A little-known portrait of Churchill’s
grandmother Clarissa Jerome (nee Hall.)
:: Portraits of the 1st Duke and Duchess of
:: Locks of children’s hair taken from
Churchill and his brother Jack along with a photograph of their
:: Notes made by Churchill’s father Lord
Randolph for the 1895 budget.
:: Winston Churchill’s silver christening
Winston’s relationship with his father, Lord Randolph, was a
difficult one and he once remarked: “a boy deprived of his father’s
care often develops, if he escapes the perils of youth, an
independence and vigour of thought which may restore in after life
the heavy loss of early days”.
Lord Randolph was the fifth child of the 7th Duke and Duchess of
Marlborough and had a stellar early career in politics becoming
Leader of the House of Commons and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
He played a key role in the development of Tory democracy. He
was an intense figure who suffered from the same moods of black
despair that would occasionally dog his son. He died aged just
John, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722)
Winston Churchill’s paternal ancestors rose from obscurity to
prominence in the British aristocracy in the 17th century because
of the qualities of John Churchill.
He was a key figure in the Glorious Revolution that secured the
English throne for the Protestant cause and was recognised for his
military genius by being made 1st Duke of Marlborough in 1702.
His ebullient wife Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, was a
favourite of Queen Anne’s and closely involved in the construction
of Blenheim Palace, the Marlborough family seat.
His Garter Star and duelling pistols are on display along with a
portrait of him which hung in his descendant Winston’s bedroom at
Winston’s father Lord Randolph gave his wife three rings (a
diamond, a diamond and sapphire and a ruby and diamond) during
Later in life Lady Randolph kept the diamond ring and gave the
other two to her daughters-in-law, one of whom was Clementine, wife
of Winston and the other to the wife of her son Jack.
The rings have been loaned by the Churchill family and are
reunited here for the first time in decades at the exhibition.
In The Blood runs from 11am to 4pm everyday, except
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, until the end of February. Tickets
£6.50, including entry to the studio, which is home to the largest
single collection of Churchill’s paintings and to Chartwell’s
gardens. The house itself is closed and will reopen in March. Call
01732 868381. Chartwell, a National Trust property, is between
Crockham Hill and Westerham.
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