Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace by a mistake. His parents didn’t live there, but they were part of the family and spent a great deal of time there. Winston’s mother wasn’t expecting him for another few weeks, but she went into labour early and he was born on 30 November 1874 in a room in the Palace.
Over the years Winston spent a great deal of time at Blenheim and this photograph was taken at High Lodge (part of Blenheim Estate) in 1908. Can you spot Winston? He’s in the front row, as is his cousin, the 9th Duke of Marlborough. Can you see him too? The other people who appear in the photograph in colour are all members of Churchill’s family. Click on them to find out who they are.
This is Winston Churchill’s younger brother, Jack. They were very close to one another, Winston kept a fatherly eye on him. Like Winston, Jack was a brave soldier. He was wounded when fighting in South Africa, and also served in the First World War.
He was married to Gwendeline and their daughter married a man called Anthony Eden who was a very important politician during the Second World War.
Gwendeline was married to Winston’s brother, Jack, so she was his sister-in-law.
Gwendeline gave Winston his first set of paints. Poor Winston used to get very low sometimes, he suffered from depression which he called his ‘black dog’. Gwendeline thought painting would take his mind off his troubles, and she was right.
“Painting,” said Winston, “is complete as a distraction. I know of nothing which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind... ” Do you agree with Winston?
Lillian was the younger sister of the 9th Duke of Marlborough. She married an army officer and was called Lillian Grenfell.
Norah was eighteen months younger than Lillian. Her married name was Mrs Bradley Bert.
Viscount Churchill of Cornbury Park was a distant cousin of Winston and he liked to join The Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars (a territorial cavalry regiment) for their annual camps at Blenheim Park.
This is Winston Churchill’s cousin. He was nicknamed ‘Sunny’ but not because he had a sunny nature. He had an unhappy childhood and this had made him a melancholy and sad man. (He was actually called Sunny because when he was young his ‘title’ was the Earl of Sunderland.)
But Sunny loved Blenheim very much and made many changes to improve it such as building the beautiful water terraces and restocking the library with 10,000 leather-bound books.
Winston was thirty-three when this picture was taken at Blenheim in 1907. Although he had resigned his commission in 1899 (that means, he left the army), he joined The Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars, a territorial regiment, and their annual camp was often held at Blenheim.
He also spent a great deal of time at Blenheim because he was a member of the family. He never became Duke because his father, Randolph Churchill, was the younger son of the 7th Duke, and in England, the ‘title’ of Duke always passes down to the older son. The 8th Duke of Marlborough (Winston’s uncle) was the father of Winston’s cousin, Sunny, who became the 9th Duke of Marlborough.
It was at Blenheim that Winston proposed marriage to his beloved Clemmie.
Winston proposed to Clementine Hozier in the Temple of Diana in the gardens of Blenheim Palace.
Winston nearly lost the opportunity of making that proposal. He was down to breakfast so late that Clemmie had almost decided to return to London, but his cousin, the 9th Duke, took her for a long ride around the estate to keep her entertained until Winston emerged.
They remained happily married until Winston’s death at the age of ninety-one.