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Blood of Sir Winston Churchill to be auctioned at Duke's of Dorchester

A few drops of blood taken from Sir Winston Churchill as he recovered with a broken hip are going under the hammer.

The sample was collected in 1962 when the ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat’ orator was at The Middlesex Hospital being treated for a fractured hip.

Student nurse Patricia Fitzgibbon asked if she could keep the small glass tube that was labelled ‘Sir Winston S Churchill WWB9’, and her request was granted.

Timothy Medhurst with the Phial of Churchill’s blood
Timothy Medhurst with the Phial of Churchill’s blood

Following her death it is now being put up for sale at Duke’s of Dorchester in Dorset on March 12.

In 1962, Churchill, aged 87, was on holiday in Monte Carlo when he reportedly fell out of his bed, fracturing his hip.

He was flown back to London in an RAF VC10 jet at the request of the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

He spent several weeks recovering in the Woolavington Wing for private patients at the hospita, when the phial of blood was taken.

His recovery was slow as he contracted bronchitis and pneumonia which in turn led to thrombosis.

The small phial of blood to be sold
The small phial of blood to be sold

It was widely anticipated that he would not survive the ordeal at his advanced age.

The blood was about to be thrown away when nurse Fitzgibbon was given permission to keep the 7cm-long tube.

In 2010 she remembered how, despite the severity of his injury, Churchill remained steadfast throughout his stay.

She said: “While the ward sister generally kept nurses out of his room, I did have occasional duties to carry out.

“I remember that he would never settle at night until after he had read the first edition of all the daily newspapers which he had specially delivered.

"He habitually smoked cigars in bed … [and] regularly mixed the first and second courses of his meal into one bowl before eating it!”

The blood – taken three years before Churchill’s death – is going under the hammer with an estimate of £300-600.

Timothy Medhurst from Duke’s said: “It is impossible to put an accurate estimate on this unique piece of history.

Many of Churchill's most famous speeches were written at Chartwell
Many of Churchill's most famous speeches were written at Chartwell

“There are just a couple of drops in the phial that is clearly labelled.

“At the time this blood was taken Churchill had already experienced a catalogue of injuries.

“So to have another devastating injury occur at such an old age was a threat to his stalwart ‘British Bulldog’ image.

“Though Churchill largely relied on his walking stick by the time this broken hip occurred, the operation to fix the fracture would have a caused a shortening in his leg and photographs following 1962 always show Churchill leaning on his iconic walking stick.

“This injury was also at a poignant moment in Churchill’s personal life – his beloved poodle Rufus II died whilst he was in hospital recovering.

“The blood will be sold together with a signed declaration by Patricia Fitzgibbon detailing the circumstances in which she acquired the phial.

“It is probably the first time that such a personal piece of Churchill’s history has been offered on the open market.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death. The blood is a poignant reminder of an injury which marked the beginning of the end for Churchill and as such, we expect there to be great interest in it. It could sell for thousands.”

Sir Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Churchill

On May 10, 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister and when he met his Cabinet on May 13 he told them: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

He repeated that phrase later in the day when he asked the House of Commons for a vote of confidence in his new all-party government that would stand up to the Nazi aggressors.

Also in the sale are a set of Churchill’s ‘The Second World War’ books, which he has inscribed as a gift for Mabel Johnson, who worked with Lady Spencer Churchill during the war.

These have an estimate of £4,000-8,000.

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