Friday, October 12, 2007

The Churchill Series – Oct. 12, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Even if Churchill had not owned race horses and been a member of The Jockey Club, he would have known about the Cheltenham Festival and Racecourse. Every Briton does. The annual races at Cheltenham are attended by hundreds of thousands, including members of the royal family.

I offer the Cheltenham background as a lead in to the following from on pg. 111 of Martin Gilbert’s In Search of Churchill: A Historian’s Journey (John Wiley & Sons) :

As well as being a house, Chartwell was also a farm: over the years Churchill had bought several farmhouses and fields to add to it.

In the 1950s his son-in-law Christopher Soames took charge of that aspect of Chartwell’s activities. Churchill was delighted: although never a farmer he loved the rural aspects of Chartwell, the animals and the woodlands, and was proud of its productivity and produce.

In Lord Beaverbrook’s papers . . . I found a letter from sir Archibald Sinclair to Beaverbrook, describing a visit to Chartwell in 1949:
’He took me round the farms, showed me short-horns, and Jerseys and then a huge brick hen-house he had built himself – “Chickenham Palace.”

Alongside was a noisome & messy little piece of bare ground – “Chichenham Palace Gardens.”

“What kind of hens?” I asked. “Oh, I don’t bother with the details,” growled Winston.’
And getting back to Cheltenham, it was Christopher Soames who convinced Churchill to begin buying race horses.

I hope the weather is as nice where you are as it is here.

Have a good weekend.