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Westerham: Winter exhibition on Sir Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine at Chartwell, National Trust


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He was one of Britain’s greatest prime ministers, but Sir Winston Churchill wasn’t all about work – he also had an extremely happy home life.

He and his devoted wife Clementine were married more than 56 years and had five children.

The pair’s enduring relationship is commemorated in a new exhibition being launched this weekend at their family home, Chartwell, near Westerham.

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The Oscar Nemon statue of Winston and Clementine Churchill at Chartwell Picture: National Trust
The Oscar Nemon statue of Winston and Clementine Churchill at Chartwell Picture: National Trust

Clementine Churchill: Speaking for Herself will run at the National Trust property through the winter, featuring items that have never been on public display before, including treasured childhood photographs and a portrait by Paul Maze, the last of the Post Impressionists.

The display is all the more poignant as it opens in the approach to the 40th anniversary of her death.

More than 60 objects, from personal mementoes such as photos and private letters to gifts from family, friends and political contacts will be on show.

Lady Churchill's rose garden at Chartwell Picture: National Trust
Lady Churchill's rose garden at Chartwell Picture: National Trust

The exhibition paints a picture of Clementine and Winston’s enduring relationship, including Clementine’s heartfelt letter to Winston the morning after their engagement.

"Chartwell curator Katherine Carter said: “We’re very excited to be able to bring Clementine’s story to the fore this winter. She was a truly remarkable woman, who has all too often been overlooked in the history of the 20th century.”

Clementine Churchill plays croquet in the garden: one of the pictures from Clementine Churchill: Speaking for Herself at Chartwell this winter
Clementine Churchill plays croquet in the garden: one of the pictures from Clementine Churchill: Speaking for Herself at Chartwell this winter

“It’s been wonderful to look in detail at her treasured possessions and objects that represent her extraordinary life.

“We’re especially excited to be bringing some objects out on display for the first time.”

Key themes include:

Early Influences – discover Clementine’s aristocratic family and her upbringing. Her parents separated and her mother Blanche was left to care for the children.Interests – Clementine was an active sportswoman enjoying horse riding, swimming, golf, skiing and tennis. The only game Winston and Clementine played together, however, was croquet.

Love – Clementine wrote of her marriage, “I cannot describe my happiness. I cared very much for him when he asked me to marry him, but every day since has been more heavenly.”

The Oscar Nemon statue of Winston and Clementine Churchill at Chartwell Picture: National Trust
The Oscar Nemon statue of Winston and Clementine Churchill at Chartwell Picture: National Trust

Duty – from the outset, Clementine undertook her duties as an MP’s wife at that time, being a political hostess, fulfilling a constituency role and supporting her husband in his election campaigns.

Chartwell – Clementine decorated the rooms at Chartwell and turned it into a family home. But later she did have concerns about the costs.

DETAILS

Clementine Churchill: Speaking for Herself is open daily from Saturday, November 18 to Sunday, February 18, between 11am and 3pm, but closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The house itself is closed for the winter. Entry to the gardens, studio and exhibition is £7.50. For more go to nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell or call 01732 868381.

ON FILM

The Churchill’s marriage was also presented in this year’s Jonathan Teplitzky film, Churchill, starring Brian Cox and Miranda Richardson. It follows Winston Churchill in the 96 hours before the D-Day landings in June 1944. To read our feature, visit kentonline.co.uk/whats-on/

Brian Cox as Winston Churchill and Miranda Richardson as Clementine Churchill Picture: PA Photo/Lionsgate Films/Graeme Hunter
Brian Cox as Winston Churchill and Miranda Richardson as Clementine Churchill Picture: PA Photo/Lionsgate Films/Graeme Hunter
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