A few weeks before his eighth birthday, in 1882, Churchill – like many other children of his class and background – was sent away to boarding school. It was at his second school in Brighton (after two unhappy years at St George’s, Ascot where ‘floggings’ were common) that he learnt things that interested him; not just French and history, but riding a horse and swimming. Both riding and swimming were to feature heavily in his life. At Harrow he represented his house at swimming competitions, but it was at fencing that he excelled. In 1889, Churchill wrote to his ‘Darling Mummy’ asking her to allow him to take up fencing. Churchill went on to become an accomplished fencer and even became Public Schools Fencing Champion in 1892.
‘… I think it would be so much better for me to learn something which would be useful to me in the army, as well as affording me exercise and amusement.’
Churchill to his mother, Lady Randolph, 5, October 1889