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Churchills Storm the Isle of Wight

Family Members Gather to Commemorate 140th Anniversary of First Meeting Between Lord Randolph Churchill and Jennie Jerome

Churchills_at_OsborneChurchill Family at Osborne HouseSeveral members of the Churchill family gathered at Cowes in August to mark the anniversary of the first meeting between Winston Churchill’s parents.  Jennie Jerome was just nineteen when she met Lord Randolph, the twenty-three year old younger son of the seventh Duke of Marlborough on 12 August 1873.  The venue was the cruiser HMS Ariadne, which was hosting an afternoon ball. Jennie’s father Leonard Jerome had set up his family on the Isle of Wight that summer, a venue with which he had some history.  Jerome’s ancestors had sailed from the island to emigrate to America, and in 1866 he had helped organize the first international trans-Atlantic yacht race with the finish in Cowes.  The winner was a boat upon which Jerome had placed a handsome wager.

The attraction between Jennie and Randolph was instantaneous.  The wedding took place the following 15 April 1874 at the British Embassy in Paris, and Winston was born at the end of November.  As Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1886 Lord Randolph had to return to the Isle of Wight to meet with Queen Victoria at Osborne House, the palatial estate she and Prince Albert had built for themselves and where the old Queen eventually passed away in 1901.

The Churchills of today, including Winston’s great-grandson Randolph, visited both the royal residence of Osborne and the yachting Mecca at Cowes, where a commemorative dinner was held at the Royal Yacht Squadron.  An exhibition exploring the links between the Churchill family and the island was put on for the summer at Dimbola Museum and Galleries, Freshwater.

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