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Spring 1889 (Age 14)

Winston had entered Harrow in the hope that he would be taken into Headmaster Welldon’s House. His immaturity had resulted in a longer stay than planned in another House but Welldon was now ready to receive him because “he has some great gifts and is making progress in his work.”

Winston pleaded with his father to visit Harrow but this was not to happen for another six months, which would be a total of 18 months from the time the boy entered the school. Lord Randolph did send his son enough money to purchase a bicycle, which led to a fall and a stay in the sick-room to recover from a slight concussion.

In My Early Life, Churchill writes of an incident which occurred about this time during a visit home and which was to profoundly influence his future. “The day came when my father himself paid a formal visit of inspection [of his son’s collection of toy soldiers]. All the troops were arranged in the correct formation of attack. He spent 20 minutes studying the scene – which was really impressive – with a keen eye and captivating smile. At the end he asked me if I would like to go into the Army, so I said “yes” at once: and immediately I was taken at my word. For years I thought my father with his experience and flair had discerned in me the qualities of military genius. But I was told later that he had only come to the conclusion that I was not clever enough to go to the Bar. However that may be, the toy soldiers turned the current of my life. Henceforward all my education was directed to passing into Sandhurst.”

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