A fascinating collection of personal items belonging to Sir Winston Churchill has been put on show in the UK for the first time.
Amongst the more than 40 items now being displayed at Chartwell, his former home in Kent, is the passport he used when he was Prime Minister. Visitors will also be able to see the tiny silver paint box that went with him on his travels, a dictation machine used to prepare many of his wartime speeches, and a diamond-encrusted sword that was a gift to him from King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia.
Alice Martin, the house and collections manager at Chartwell, said: ‘We’re thrilled to be able to offers visitors this unique opportunity to see close-up such personal items that have never been on public display in this country.’
Chartwell, near Westerham, was handed over to the National Trust in 1965 by Lady Churchill after her husband’s death. It had been their home since 1922 and was one of Sir Winston’s great loves.
Many of the items in the exhibition we put in storage at that point and have never been brought out since. Now they will be part of a newly-refurbished exhibition space that will provide fresh displays every year of some of the everyday possessions of the former premier.
Others pieces in the exhibition include a Union Jack car rug, the dog bowl belonging to his beloved pet poodle Rufus, and miniatures and paintings of family members.
‘My particular favourite is Sir Winston's passport,’ said Alice Martin. ‘I welled up when I first handled it. It's such an evocative object.
‘We all have a passport but they don't list our birthplace as Blenheim Palace and occupation as Prime Minister.’