January 1, 1970

Like many Victorian children, the young Churchill was an avid lepidopterist, collecting and pinning specimens from the fields around his prep school in the 1880s. At the age of six, he wrote to his mother: ‘I am never at a loss to do anything while I am in the country for I shall be occupied with ‘butterflying’ all day (as I was last year).’ It was a hobby he returned to periodically throughout his life.

At Chartwell, he converted the larder into a summerhouse so that he could breed butterflies, with a muslin curtain over the door to protect them until their release.

You can now visit the redeveloped butterfly house at Chartwell. More than half a century after Churchill’s efforts to introduce exotic butterflies to Kent, butterflies are once more being bred (although only familiar British breeds; foreign introductions are now supervised by international codes of practice).

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