Coming in Finest Hour 188: Churchill’s Prime Ministers
18 August 1908
BLENHEIM—My dear Winston, Your letter has given me much pleasure and a great deal of satisfaction. It is indeed a joy to feel that you are happy, and that you realise that in ensuring the content of another being, lies in no small degree the solace and also the enjoyment of life. I earnestly hope that your life and Clementine’s may be unclouded, and that the only source of contention between you during the years in front, may be which of you two loves each other the better.
You are rich in many things, in friends, in health, ability, and true worth is to be found not in the quantity of one’s possessions, but in the capacity for limitation of one’s personal requirements. She herself Clementine is surrounded by those who admire her, and enriched by those who love her—and whom she loves—and in addition possesses all those graceful and affectionate qualities of the heart which form the basis of the essential characteristics of a life’s companion. Read More >
To understand Winston Churchill, it is necessary to visit Blenheim Palace. While Chartwell is the house with which he is most closely associated, Churchill did not purchase his estate in Kent until he was nearly fifty. The ducal lifestyle of Victorian Britain and Blenheim, where he was born and spent much time throughout his formative years, were the factors that shaped the man. In exploring these themes, we are honored to have His Grace the twelfth Duke of Marlborough introduce this issue.
Churchill himself wrote about the establishment of the family seat during the reign of Queen Anne when he composed his multivolume biography of his illustrious ancestor John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough. The seventh Duke sat in residence when his grandson Winston was born in a small room off the Great Hall. Fred Glueckstein introduces us to this imposing figure. Read More >
The cumulative labors of [architect Sir John] Vanbrugh and [landscape architect Lancelot] “Capability” Brown have succeeded at Blenheim in setting an Italian palace in an English park without apparent incongruity. The combination of these different ideas, each singly attractive, produces a remarkable effect. The palace is severe in its symmetry and completeness. Nothing has been added to the original plan; nothing has been taken away. The approaches are formal; the wings are balanced; four equal towers maintain its corners; and the fantastic ornaments of one side are elaborately matched on the other.
Natural simplicity and even confusion are, on the contrary, the characteristic of the park and gardens. Instead of that arrangement of gravel paths, of geometrical flower-beds, and of yews disciplined with grotesque exactness which the character of the house would seem to suggest, there spreads a rich and varied landscape. Green lawns and shining water, banks of laurel and fern, groves of oak and cedar, fountains and islands, are conjoined in artful disarray to offer on every side a promise of rest and shade. And yet there is no violent contrast, no abrupt dividing line between the wildness and freshness of the garden and the pomp of the architecture. Read More >
His Grace the Duke of Marlborough was born in Oxford on 24 November 1955 and educated at Harrow School and the Royal Agricultural College. He was styled the Earl of Sunderland until the death of his grandfather, the tenth duke, in 1972 and thereafter was styled the Marquess of Blandford until succeeding his father, the eleventh Duke, in 2014. His Grace married Edla Griffiths in 2002. Together the Duke and Duchess have two children, and His Grace has one son from a previous marriage.
The Duke and Duchess, together with their children and Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson Sir Nicholas Soames, hosted HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at the dedication of the Winston Churchill Garden on the grounds of Blenheim, 9 June 2015.
In his multi-volume biography of his ancestor John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, published from 1933 to 1938 as Marlborough: His Life and Times, Winston Churchill described the creation of the ancestral seat.
The background: during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14), King Louis XIV of France and the Elector of Bavaria sought to knock Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I out of the war by seizing Vienna in the summer of 1704 and gaining a favorable peace settlement. This plan ended in failure in August with the catastrophic defeat of French and Bavarian forces at the Battle of Blenheim at the hands of British and Austrian armies led by the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy. The battle altered the course of the war, which nevertheless continued to rage for another decade.
Following his spectacular victory at Blenheim, Marlborough returned home from Bavaria in the autumn as “The Conquering Hero” of Queen Anne’s realm. For the moment he was showered with honors, but the protracted conflict later turned political opinion against him. Here follows Winston Churchill’s account of the Duke’s homecoming. Read More >
Lord Derby’s Cabinet, 1867 – The Seventh Duke of Marlborough (seated at the table with head in hand) Lord Derby (standing with hand on despatch box at the right)
Finest Hour 187, First Quarter 2020
By Fred Glueckstein
Fred Glueckstein is a frequent contributor to Finest Hour and author of Churchill and Colonist II (2015).
John Winston Spencer-Churchill was born on 2 June 1822 at Garboldisham Hall, Norfolk. He was the eldest son of George Spencer-Churchill, the sixth Duke of Marlborough, and Lady Jane Stewart, who was the daughter of the eighth Earl of Galloway. From his birth until the death of his grandfather—the fifth duke—in 1840, John held the family courtesy title Earl of Sunderland. This changed when he became first in line to succeed to the dukedom and was raised to the courtesy title Marquess of Blandford.
John Spencer-Churchill was educated at Eton and then Oriel College, Oxford. He served as a lieutenant in the 1st Oxfordshire yeomanry in 1843. On 12 July of that same year, he married Lady Frances Anne Emily Vane, eldest daughter of the third Marquess of Londonderry.
The young Spencer-Churchills had eleven children. Their third son, Lord Randolph Henry Spencer-Churchill, was born in London at 3 Wilton Terrace, Belgravia on 13 February 1849. Lord Randolph would become the father of Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill. Read More >
125 Years Ago
Winter 1895 • Age 20
“He Was My Model”
As 1895 opened, three events occurred in the first seven weeks—a wedding and two funerals—that were to have a major effect on the young Churchill’s life. For they combined to lead him into meeting his American mentor the lawyer, statesman, and orator Bourke Cockran, of whom Churchill once said, “He was my model. I learned from him how to hold thousands in thrall.
” The first event was the wedding in Vienna on 9 January of Count Charles Rudolf Kinsky and Countess Elizabeth Wolff-Metternich. Kinsky and Churchill’s mother Jennie had long been lovers. Had that affair continued, she likely would not have begun a new relationship with Cockran.
Two weeks later, Lord Randolph Churchill died on 24 January. Victorian convention required a two-year period of mourning before a widow could accept social invitations. That was not acceptable to Jennie, who promptly left England for Paris, less than a month after her husband’s death. There she rented a large house on the tree-lined Avenue Kleber and invited her older sister Clara and her younger sister Leonie to join her, which they did. Read More >
Adrian Phillips, Fighting Churchill, Appeasing Hitler: Neville Chamberlain, Sir Horace Wilson, and Britain’s Plight of Appeasement, 1937–1939, Pegasus Books, 2019, 368 pages, $29.95. ISBN 978–1643132211
Mark Klobas teaches history at Scottsdale College.
The eightieth anniversary of the start of the Second World War was accompanied by a predictable flurry of works about British efforts to appease Germany up to September 1939. Adrian Phillips’ book is the latest of this kind and follows close upon similar studies by Tim Bouverie (reviewed FH 187) and Robert Crowcroft (reviewed FH 184). Whereas Bouverie and Crowcroft summarized broadly the efforts to avert war by accommodating Adolf Hitler’s demands, Phillips focuses more specifically on the role of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s chief advisor Sir Horace Wilson in promoting appeasement.
Phillips’s focus is welcome, since Wilson remains one of the most understudied figures of the period. A child of lower-middle class parents, he rose rapidly from the Second Class of the British Civil Service to its heights by virtue of hard work and ability. Chosen as Permanent Secretary of the nascent Ministry of Labour, Wilson showed skill in resolving industrial disputes, making him an indispensable figure for the governments of the interwar period. Read More >
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