Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002
QUOTATION OF THE SEASON
“It is quite certain that what is going on now in Palestine is doing us a great deal of harm in every way. Whatever view is taken by the partisans of the Jews or the partisans of the Arabs
—WSC, HOUSE OF COMMONS, 31 JANUARY 1947
Getting to Chartwell
WESTERHAM, KENT, APRIL 1ST— Chartwell opened today, and we began to receive queries about getting there other than by car (a challenge to the meek or faint hearted), and whether the Chartwell Explorer coach from London still runs.
By road, Chartwell is two miles south of Westerham on the A25, accessed by M25 junctions 5 and 6. By rail and bus: Sevenoaks station 6 1/2 miles; Oxted station 5 1/2 miles; Metrobus 246 from Bromley station to Edenbridge passes the gates. And yes, the Chartwell Explorer still runs, only £3 for unlimited travel for the day, a pot of tea included in the fare! Special all inclusive coach and entry tickets are available from London and Kent stations. The Explorer calls at Chartwell, Emmetts Garden and Quebec House (when open). Please call (0345) 696996 for further details. For a timetable call (01732) 450305.
By rail, users tell us the best connection from London is out of Victoria Station using trains such as the “Capital Coast Express,” marked “to East Grinstead and calling at Oxted.”
Though only a mile closer than Sevenoaks, Oxted is less congested, making for a cheaper taxi fare. Talk the cabbie into picking you up for the return drive to Oxted at a set time. The last person we heard from said fare was only £5, which seems very cheap.
Packwood Heads Archives
CAMBRIDGE, MAY 16TH— Churchill College, Cambridge, is pleased to announce the appointment of Allen Packwood as Director of the Churchill Archives Centre. He succeeds Piers Brendon and Corelli Barnett CBE, the previous holders of the post of parttime Keeper.
While Mr. Packwood will continue to build on the excellent work of his predecessors, the time has come in the history of the Centre for it to be led by a full time archival professional. Allen has worked within the Centre for six years, serving as Acting Keeper for the last sixteen months. The post was advertised nationally, and Allen emerged successfully from an open competition.
In recent years the Churchill Archives Centre has grown to become one of the most significant repositories for the preservation of modern political, diplomatic, military and scientific papers. It houses the private collections of prominent individuals, including Sir Winston Churchill, Baroness Thatcher, the Rt. Hon. Neil Kinnock, Admiral Lord Fisher, Field Marshal Lord Slim, Sir Frank Whittle and Rosalind Franklin. The Centre is currently expanding physically, with the building of a new wing of purpose-built strongroom accommodation.
The College has been able to create the Directorship thanks to the generous support of a large philanthropic trust. The appointment will enable the Centre to build upon its excellent record and establish itself as a truly national centre for the safekeeping and study of a key part of Britain’s archival legacy.
Mr. Packwood said, “The motto of Churchill College is ‘Forward.’ I am delighted to be given this opportunity to move the Archives Centre forward in the spirit of Sir Winston Churchill. The collections are among the most exciting in this country, and the challenge is to make them more accessible for this and future generations.”
Allen Packwood may be reached by telephone at Cambridge 336175 or email: [email protected] The Churchill Archives Centre website is www.chu.cam.ac.uk/archives/
—Sue Foster, Archives Administrator
Attention to Detail
LONDON, JUNE 18TH (REUTERS)— Even in the middle of World War II, Winston Churchill still had time to worry about rubbish in the streets, the finer points of English grammar and whether his troops had enough beer, secret files released today showed.
Even as German bombs rained down on London during the Blitz, or in planning the June 1944 invasion of Normandy, the Prime Minister did not neglect the environment. Churchill’s thoughts came to light when Britain’s Public Records Office opened dossiers of Churchill’s personal minutes and telegrams, some never seen before.
In March 1944 he wrote: “Just below the Foreign Office on the grass opposite St. James’s Park there is a very untidy sack with holes in it and sand leaking out.…Such a conspicuous place ought not to look untidy, unless there is some real need which can be satisfied in no other way.”
Later in May, the doughty PM railed at his Director of Military Intelligence for sloppy English: “Why must you write ‘intensive’ here? ‘Intense’ is the right word. You should read Fowler’s Modern English Usage on the use of the two words,” he fumed.
But the Premier showed more clemency in considering the plight of thirsty British soldiers abroad: “A serious appeal was made to me by General Alexander for more beer for the troops in Italy. The Americans are said to have four bottles a week, and the British rarely get one,” he complained.
The documents also show Churchill in candid form on the subject of friends and enemies, including French leader General Charles de Gaulle, with whom he enjoyed a tempestuous relationship. “I…find the greatest difficulty in working with de Gaulle, and that his personality and conduct constitute the biggest obstacle to the relations between Britain and the United States on the one hand, and the France whom we all wish to help on the other,” he wrote to Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden.
The Soviets did not get off lightly either. “Never forget that Bolsheviks are crocodiles,” he wrote Eden. And in another letter: “I cannot feel the slightest trust or confidence in them. Force and facts are their only realities.”
The cigar-smoking PM wrote Eden about raising the status of some of its foreign legations to embassies: “I must say I think Cuba has as good a claim as some of the other places… Great offence will be given if all the others have it and this large, rich, beautiful island, the home of the cigar, is denied.”
LONDON, MAY 15TH— A reader recently asked when Churchill’s longtime detective (1920s-1945) died. We heard from his niece, who tells us Thompson died in 1978 of cancer of the lung and brain. He was 88: “He married Bunny, one of Churchill’s secretaries, after divorcing my Aunt Kate. She was forced to leave Churchill’s service by Mrs. Hill, the head secretary.” We have been unable to learn more about this tantalizing factoid.
Film Help Wanted
LONDON, MAY 25TH— TWI, makers of the internationally acclaimed television series The Second World War in Color, is about to embark on a new series, Winston Churchill, to be aired worldwide, including the USA. They have asked us to print the following request:
“Exploring the man behind the legend, this three part series will uncover the real Winston Churchill for the very first time. The series will offer a startling new approach, taking the viewers on a journey inside the mind, words and actions of the great man. It will explore his childhood insecurities, his motivations, his desires and his greatest fears. It will discover what drove Churchill to become the man he was, what made him think that he could alter the course of history and, above all, what created his overwhelming sense of destiny.”
Celia Sandys is the official consultant for the series. The programme-makers are looking for home movie footage, photographs and letters relating to any era of Winston Churchill’s life. They are also looking for personal stories and anecdotes from anyone who may have met or known Churchill. If you can help, please contact:
Rebecca John, TWI, McCormack House, Burlington Lane, London W4 2TH England, telephone (01144) 208233-5977, fax 208-233-5301, email [email protected] TWI guarantee all material will be treated with utmost care and returned as quickly as possible.
Wilderness Years on DVD
LONDON, JULY 4TH— The best television documentary ever, “The Wilderness Years” starring Robert Hardy as Churchill, is now available on DVD as well as videotape ($69.95 from Churchill Stores). Produced by, and originally broadcast on, Southern TV in 1981, this series chronicled Churchill’s years between the wars in a more detailed way than the excellent HBO “Gathering Storm.” Robert Hardy puts in a sterling performance as the great man, though Sian Phillips is an unconvincing Clemmie (FH 38). With a superb supporting cast including Nigel Havers as Randolph, David Swift as “The Prof,” Edward Woodward as Sam Hoare, Peter Barkworth as Baldwin, Eric Porter as Chamberlain and Tim Pigott-Smith as a memorable Bracken, this series is compulsory viewing. Though there are no out-takes or extra material, the fourvolume DVD is reasonably priced. The disk producer is Delta Home Entertainment (www.deltamusic.co.uk). They state no price but recommend a retail outlet: Choices Direct, PO Box 190, Peterborough PE2 6UW, England, ([email protected]) telephone (01733) 232800. Thanks for this intelligence to Thad Adams.
Churchill Apartment Opens
MONTECARLO, SEPTEMBER 2001— The famous Hotel de Paris has unveiled the Churchill Apartment, blending classic style with modern luxury. They call the two-bedroom apartment “a study in relaxation, style and convenience with a dramatic Montecarlo backdrop.”
The hotel commissioned French interior design consultants Berthet Pochy, whose previous projects include the Montecarlo Sporting d´Eté and the Paris Town Hall. The brief was to create a luxurious suite that combined history amidst contemporary surroundings.
“The resulting 210 square meter apartment offers views of the Monaco harbour and the Mediterranean. The wood-panelled library and numerous objects of art paying tribute to the great man are a part of the distinctly English feel of the apartment,” the hotel states. “Walls are adorned with copies of his paintings and photographs, and in one corner his easel, complete with palette and paints, is displayed to further illustrate Churchill’s universe.”
Access is via a private lift that opens directly into the apartment. The grand salon comprises a fireplace, a library containing Churchill volumes, and white leather sofas contrasting with the dark wood paneling. Large windows and mirrored ceilings provide abundant light. Underlying the furnishings, designed by Jean-Louis Berthet, is a state of the art television and hi-fi system, and sophisticated lighting control.
In contrast with the décor, the architecture of the apartment is resolutely contemporary. The entire suite can be divided into two suites if required, the second of which features a carpet representing a field of wheat, coquelicots and the sky, themes which Churchill often liked to paint.
Built in 1864, the Hotel de Paris is today one of the world’s last great luxury hotels to offer not only the most modern services but also a guarantee of a spectacular and splendid setting. The hotel has 135 rooms, forty-three apartments and nineteen junior suites, with views over Casino Square and Gardens, the port and the Prince’s Palace or the bay and sea beyond, and provides direct access to the Thermes Marins Spa.
For further information please contact: Linda Petrie, Nicola Waskett or Lindsey Dupler in England, telephone (0207) 471-1000, fax (0207) 4711001, email [email protected] The hotel website is: www.montecarloresort.com.
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WANTED. Issues 14-23, 26-28, 32, of Finest Hour (originals only, please). Richard D. Batchelder, Jr. Tel: (617) 951-7515, Fax: (617) 951-7050.
FOR SALE: Winston Churchill’s teapot, bearing the arms and monogram of Lord Randolph Churchill, from whom he inherited it after his father’s death in 1895. A unique, one-of-a-kind piece of Churchilliana.
Winston Churchill presented the teapot to his valet, William Walden, who had previously served Lord Randolph. Walden and the teapot accompanied Churchill everywhere until Walden’s death in 1921. The artifact was acquired directly from Walden’s heirs by Churchill Center Associate Jeanette Gabriel, who was curator to Sir Arthur Gilbert, one of the greatest collectors of silver of the 20th century.
Made of silver plate rather than sterling, this teapot would have been more appropriate for travel than for domestic use. It probably accompanied Lord Randolph on his travels, and then Winston to India, the Sudan and South Africa. Provenance supplied.
One-third of the proceeds of this sale will be donated to The Churchill Center. Please contact Jeanette Gabriel (email [email protected]), 1341 Stanford Street, Santa Monica, Calif. 90404, tel. (310) 829-5779.