New displays installed to rotate more then 3000 items
By Chris Murphy
THE KENT NEWS, Sunday 5 February 2012—Everyone remembers Sir Winston Churchill chomping on his huge cigars, sometimes wearing his distinctive hat. But of course he possessed far more than that, and now an exhibition is being held to display of some of his more personal items.
It is the first time the 40 items will be seen by the public.
The show will include a passport used by Churchill when he was prime minister, and a dictation machine for preparing some of his famous and moving speeches delivered during World War Two.
Visitors to Churchill’s former home at Chartwell near Westerham, can see objects that belonged to the great wartime leader and his family and which help tell the story of his extraordinary life and times.
The National Trust, the owner of the house, said it will also include a tiny silver paint box; diamond encrusted sword that was a gift of King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia; a painting by Sir John Lavery of Churchill and his son Randolph; plus a miniature leather travelling globe.
The collection even includes a dog bowl for his beloved pet poodle Rufus. His dog of choice was not the bulldog as many people believe, but brown poodles. His first was Rufus and he accompanied the PM throughout World War Two.
Rufus died in 1947 and is buried in Chartwell at the pet cemetery. He was succeeded by Rufus II, who died in 1963 and is also buried in the pet cemetery alongside his cats.
Churchill was a keen artist, and said: “Painting is complete as a distraction. I know of nothing which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind.
“When I get to heaven I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting, and so get to the bottom of the subject.”
When Lady Churchill handed Chartwell over to the National Trust in 1965, many hundreds of personal family items were put into store.
Now a fully-refurbished exhibition space and new museum-quality cases offer the necessary conditions for the display of many more items from the stores.
The space will also play host to changing displays every winter allowing visitors to see even more of the reserve collection and continued loans from the Churchill family.
Alice Martin, the house and collections manager at Chartwell, said: “We are thrilled to be able to offer visitors this unique opportunity to see close-up such personal items that have never been on public display in this country.
“My particular favourite is Sir Winston’s passport. I welled up when I first handled it. It’s such an evocative object.
“We all have a passport but they don’t list our birthplace as Blenheim Palace and occupation as Prime Minister!”
The main exhibition runs until 1 November.
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