Friday, August 08, 2008

The Churchill Series - Aug. 8, 2008

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

I won't be wrapping the Abdication Crisis posts today because I need to spend most of my blogging time on the Edwards-Hunter affair story. I'll finish with the Abdication Crisis Monday. I'm sorry for the delay but trust you'll understand.

For today I'm reposting this oldie from Feb. 2007.

Most Americans who know of Chequers think of it as a kind of Camp David for British Prime Ministers. And that’s on the mark as to its purpose, but it has a much richer history and architecture than Camp David. Chequers is a large Elizabethan house with marbled and richly paneled rooms.

As you would guess, Churchill loved the place. After its last private owners gave it to the nation as a country place of rest and enjoyment for Prime Ministers, Churchill was one of the first quests.

The first Prime Minister to use it as an official residence was Lloyd George starting in January, 1921. A few weeks thereafter, he invited Churchill to stay as his weekend guest. Clementine did not accompany Churchill so we find him on Feb. 6, 1921 writing Clementine:

My darling,

Here I am. You would like to see this place – Perhaps you will some day!

It is just the kind of house you admire – a paneled museum, full of history, full of treasures – but insufficiently warmed – Anyhow a wonderful possession. […]
”Perhaps you will some day!” Churchill saw to it that she did.

BTW – “insufficiently warmed” was an understatement. The house had no central heating when Churchill was PM, and I’m mot certain it does now.

During WWII when Eisenhower would be getting ready to visit Chequers, he would sometimes tell aides he was going to “that damned icebox.”

I hope you all have a good weekend.

Churchill’s letter to Clementine is found on pg. 225 of Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill, edited by their daughter, Mary Soames. She also provided background on Chequers.