Friday 11 December 2020

Imperial War Museums - The Young Churchill


Churchill in 1899
© IWM (HU 98777) Officers involved in the Inter-Regimental Polo Tournament at Meerut, 1899. Winston Churchill is standing second from right.
Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was born on 30 November 1874. He was born in one of the 187 rooms that make up Blenheim Palace, his grandfather, the Duke of Marlborough’s, house.

Winston’s father, Randolph Churchill, was an eminent Conservative politician who would go on to be Chancellor of the Exchequer. His mother was the American heiress Jennie Jerome.

Winston thought the world of both his parents. But they, like many aristocrats of that era, had little time for their son.

He was packed off to Harrow, the exclusive boarding school, at the age of eight. Here he sent anguished letters begging to see his parents, which all went ignored. Only his nanny, Mrs Everest, showed him any reliable affection.

The end of his school years could not come soon enough for Churchill. He showed little aptitude in his studies, and was in often in trouble. There seemed little purpose to going to university and prolonging his education.

Instead he threw himself into a military career. At the Royal Military College in Sandhurst he trained as a cavalry officer. Then he used family contacts to make sure that he was posted wherever there was the best chance of seeing action. He served in Cuba, India and the Sudan.
Until 30 April 2021

See Wartime London: Art of the Blitz on display for a limited time only within Churchill War Rooms. Explore the Second World War’s impact on ordinary Londoners with this carefully curated selection of artworks, including newly acquired drawings from Henry Moore.
Churchill’s experience in the Sudan demonstrates how much warfare transformed in his lifetime. Here, in 1898 he took part in Britain’s last great cavalry charge. Yet over half a century later, as Prime Minister, he could call on the destructive force of Britain’s first nuclear bombs.

It wasn’t an especially lucrative career – at least not to a man used to the trappings of an aristocratic lifestyle. Soon Churchill began to supplement his income by writing about his military experiences.

It was as a journalist working for the Morning Post that he travelled to South Africa to cover the Boer War in 1899. Eager to get to where the action was, he undertook a risky journey on an armoured train and was captured by the enemy.

Yet he was not a prisoner for long. When one of the guards turned away from his post to light his pipe, Winston climbed over a wall and jumped onto a passing coal train. His daring escape story caused a worldwide sensation and turned Churchill into something of a celebrity.

Despite these exploits, Churchill’s true ambition was to follow his father into Parliament. This ambition was realised in 1900, when he became the Conservative member for Oldham, and his long career in politics began.

You can discover more stories about Winston Churchill’s lifetime and leadership when you visit Churchill War Rooms, and explore the Churchill Museum.
Churchill Whisky
Inspired by Churchill’s daily whisky and water - coined the Papa cocktail by his children - this full bodied and sophisticated Scotch has been developed exclusively for IWM.
Operation Black Door
Operation Black Door tickets are on sale now.  Experience Churchill War Rooms as never before in a brand new immersive event. After hours on 11, 12 and 13 March. The perfect experience to share in 2021.