March 20, 2015

“Chickenham Palace”

Churchill was still recuperating in the Autumn of 1949 from the minor stroke he had suffered while on holiday in France. He continued to work on his memoirs of World War II, submitting draft chapters for comment to a wide variety of people including his wife, Clementine, who told him one night at dinner: “Winston, I have now finished volume III and I hope you will pay some attention to the little notes I have made in the margins. You must make a great many changes. I got so tired of the endless detail about unimportant battles and incidents. So much of the material is pedestrian.”

Kept informed by Prime Minister Clement Attlee of significant defense and foreign policy developments, Churchill privately gave advice to Attlee on these issues. On defense policy, he wrote Attlee that Britain could not help defend Europe unless it could first defend itself:

“A defenceless Britain can play no part in the defence of Europe. Her power to help in the past has arisen from an integral, insular security. If this falls, all falls. If it endures, all may be defended or regained. Mere contributions, however generous, to European schemes of defence will be useful to Europe if Britain is herself no longer a living military entity. It is certainly not isolationism to set this first objective first, On the contrary it is the only foundation upon which effective help can be given to Europe and to other parts of the Empire.”

By mid-December, Churchill had recovered from a severe cold and was well enough to go down to Chartwell where one of his guests, Sir Archibald Sinclair, who later wrote about his visit:

Edinburgh Castle

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“Clemmie was younger, more active and agile in supervising everything, more exquisitely neat than ever and in excellent queenly looks. Winston was recovering from a very bad cold but he was in grand form “…as lively and incessant in his conversation as he was in Cabinet in the old days, eating, drinking and smoking as voraciously as ever. He took me round the farms, showed me short-horns and Jerseys, and then a huge brick hen house which he had built himself ‘Chickenham Palace.’ Alongside was a noisome & messy little piece of bare ground ‘Chickenham Palace Gardens.'”

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