In his first year as Member of Parliament (1901), Winston Churchill began spending the late summer and early autumn in Scotland, socializing and hunting in and about the houses of Scotland’s great aristocrats. In 1902 he also started hunting with King Edward VII at Balmoral, the royal castle in Aberdeenshire.
In December 1902, while on a trip up the Nile as a guest of Sir Ernest Cassel, Churchill learned to play the game of bridge, playing it every day. “It amuses me,” he wrote to his mother. Unfortunately, he was not terribly good at it and within a few years had dropped it altogether.
Churchill toyed with golf and tennis, but his damaged right arm was an insurmountable obstacle for both. Hunting, polo, and some salmon fishing in Scotland remained his principal outdoor pursuits. Churchill connections with Scotland would remain close throughout his long political career. He served as MP for Dundee from 1908 until 1922 and commanded the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front in 1916 during the First World War.
The forthcoming issue of Finest Hour will be entirely about Churchill and Scotland.
Barry Singer is the author of Churchill Style (Abrams Image, 2012) and the proprietor of Chartwell Booksellers in New York City.
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