winter exhibition opens at Chartwell – Child
of the Commons
in Kent is set to launch a new winter exhibition, Child of the
Commons, full of discovery as well as items that have never
before been on public display.
from 12 November to 19 February 2017, the exhibition focuses
on the extraordinary political career of Sir Winston Churchill.
It will feature over 50 objects, from personal family mementoes
to commemorative gifts that will tell the stories of Churchill’s
time in politics and why, in his own words, he would spend his
life as a ‘Child of the commons’.
the objects are items Chartwell hopes to acquire with the ‘Keep
Churchill at Chartwell’ appeal. Launched on the 5 September,
the appeal hopes to raise £7.1 million by the end of January
2017 in order to save these and many more items once belonging
to Sir Winston Churchill for the nation.
started his political career when Queen Victoria was still on
the throne and his time in Westminster would see him through
two world wars and through to the onset of the Cold War. By
this time he was the longest-serving MP of the twentieth century.
Child of the Commons has been researched by a team of National
Trust staff and volunteers, and offers a unique insight into
the breadth of Churchill’s political career. It will take
visitors from a childhood spent idealising his politician father,
through his early days as constituency MP, his ‘crossing
the floor’ between Conservatives and Liberals, and his
holding most of the major offices of state, including being
Prime Minister twice.
of the exhibition include:
• Nobel Prize in literature - awarded to Churchill in
1953 primarily for his oratory and iconic speeches. Many of
these were composed at his Chartwell home, which features prominently
in the design on the accompanying diploma.
• Speech box – confidential notes from Churchill’s
advisers were stored in this unassuming box ready for him to
transform into his rousing speeches.
• House of Commons 80th birthday book - an illuminated
book in green leather was signed by almost every member of the
House of Commons and was presented to Churchill as a tribute
of their affection on his 80th birthday in 1954.
• Public school fencing medal - A silver medallion in
the shape of a Maltese Cross with lion surmount awarded to Churchill
as the most talented fencer at Harrow school.
• Pair of hairbrushes - among many personal items, these
hairbrushes are made from wood from the deck of the Second World
War ship HMS Exeter. Only two other pairs were made, for the
captain of the ship and for King George VI.
Barnett, House and Collections Manager at Chartwell comments:
“Child of the Commons has been a wonderful exhibition
to curate as it’s allowed us to focus on Churchill’s
wider political career. His achievements ranged from being the
youngest person in the Cabinet for over 100 years, right through
to being the longest serving MP of the twentieth century. With
constituencies across the length of the UK, having contested
21 elections and served with two different political parties,
Churchill’s political career was a real rollercoaster
and it’s wonderful that we get to share these stories
here at Chartwell.
squeezing it all in was challenging, after all this is someone
whose interest in politics started in childhood and lasted through
the entire 90 years of his life, but the collections we are
able to show really help tell the key stories of his career.
From early career despatch boxes to awards and gifts in thanks
for a lifetime’s work in Westminster, this exhibition
truly depicts why Churchill always thought of himself as a ‘Child
of the Commons’.”
Nicholson, one of the volunteers who researched the exhibition,
adds: “Research for the exhibition, whilst very time consuming,
has been most enjoyable and eye-opening. The hours spent reading
through newspaper cuttings and archive letters always reveal
of the Commons is open daily from 12 November to 19 February 2017,
11am–3pm (closed 24 & 25 December). Please note the
house is closed for winter. National Trust members receive free
entry. Adult entry to gardens, studio & exhibition £7.40.
For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell
or telephone 01732 868381.