(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)
Lady Mary Soames, speaking before the International Churchill Society of the United Kingdom on Nov. 30, 1994, the 120th anniversary of her father’s birth.[excerpts]:
Because it has fallen to my lot to be Winston Churchill’s child, and now of my parents’ five children, sadly the only survivor, I feel I have a unique testimony to give about Winston Churchill as a human being.The remainder of Lady Soames’ remarks are here.
But I have made myself some quite stern rules: I am loath to stray beyond the frontiers of my daughterly knowledge; and I strenuously deny myself the luxury of imagined conversations or apocryphal jokes and anecdotes. I see my humbler, but perhaps not unnecessary task, as that of trying to keep focused my father’s personality and image. I sometimes feel that his character and personality have become embalmed in his fame and in the legend which already attaches to his hero-figure.
I know that his place in history is secure, but that I leave (though not necessarily without reservations) to the historians.
Tonight, as we celebrate the 120th anniversary of his birth, I would like to dwell on some aspects of my father’s vivid personality, on his long enduring zest for life, and on that warmth whose glow I still feel through the passing years.
Chartwell in Kent was the home of my parents for over forty years, and the scene of my own childhood and youth. . . .
Chartwell was a veritable factory for he kept us by his pen. The lights gleamed from his upstairs study late into the night as, padding up and down the long room with its high vaulted, raftered ceiling, he dictated to his secretary hour after hour his books, newspaper articles and speeches.
But there was playtime too—he always seemed to find time for what he called "my toys." The long high wall around the vegetable garden which he built, largely with his own hands, bears witness to his love of construction, and his skill as a bricklayer.
He enjoyed directing outdoor works: tree clearing, digging operations, or channeling the meagre trickle from the Chartwell stream through various courses and cascades to fill the lake-like swimming pool, his own creation too, which gleamed like an aquamarine set in the meadows.
The lovely dining room with its arcaded windows reminds me of the long hours passed round its table with his family, friends and colleagues when conversation, repartee and argument flashed to and fro; or long remembered lines of verse and prose poured forth like a torrent from the store of his prodigious memory.
On this 133rd anniversary of Churchill’s birth, let us bring to mind Westminster Abbey's nave and the large memorial stone set in its center aisle which enjoins the passing throngs: REMEMBER WINSTON CHURCHILL
The link and hosting of Lady Soames' remarks are courtesty of The Churchill Centre.