|Clementine Churchill in 1915|
|Spouse||Winston Churchill (m. 1908–1965)|
|Mother||Blanche Henrietta Hozier|
|Born||1 April 1885
Mayfair, London, England
|Died||12 December 1977 (aged 92)
Knightsbridge, London, England
Clementine was born in Mayfair, London to Lady Henrietta Blanche Hozier (1852–1925), daughter of the 10th Earl of Airlie and second wife of Sir Henry Montague Hozier (1838–1907); she was second among four children (three daughters, one son). Clementine was probably an illegitimate child, most likely fathered by Bay Middleton - her paternity is a subject of much debate, as Lady Blanche was well known for sharing her "favours". After Sir Henry found Lady Blanche with a lover in 1891, she managed to avert her husband's suit for divorce due to his own infidelities, and thereafter the couple separated. Lady Blanche maintained that Clementine's biological father was Capt. William George "Bay" Middleton, a noted horseman; Mary Soames, Clementine's youngest child, believes this. On the other hand, Clementine's biographer, Joan Hardwick, has surmised (due in part to Sir Henry Hozier's reputed sterility) that all Lady Blanche's "Hozier" children were actually fathered by her sister's husband, Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford (1837–1916), better known as a grandfather of the famous Mitford sisters of the 1920s. Whatever her true paternity, Clementine is recorded as being the daughter of Lady Blanche and Sir Henry.
Clementine was educated first at home, then briefly at the Edinburgh school run by Karl Froebel, the nephew of the famous German educationist, Friedrich Froebel, and his wife Johanna and later at Berkhamsted School for Girls (now Berkhamsted School) and at the Sorbonne in Paris. She was twice secretly engaged to Sir Sidney Peel, who had fallen in love with her when she was eighteen.
On 12 September 1908, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, Clementine married Winston Churchill, more than a decade older and already a seasoned Parliamentarian. Together they had five children: Diana (1909–1963); Randolph (1911–1968); Sarah (1914–1982); Marigold (1918–1921); and Mary (b. 1922). Only the youngest, Mary, is still alive (as of 2010). None of the other four children shared anything of their parents' longevity: Marigold died at the age of three, and the others died in their 50s or 60s, two of these (Diana and Randolph) predeceasing their mother. The Churchills' marriage, in spite of the stresses of a public life, was a close and affectionate one.
After her marriage, during World War I, Clementine Churchill organised canteens for munitions workers on behalf of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in the North East Metropolitan Area of London.
In the 1930s, Clementine traveled without Winston aboard Lord Moyne’s yacht, the Rosaura, to exotic islands: Borneo, Celebes, the Moluccas, New Caledonia, and the New Hebrides. During this trip, she had an affair with Terence Philip, a wealthy art dealer seven years her junior. It was an affair that could not outlast the sultry clime, but it was meaningful to her. She brought back from this trip a Bali dove. When it died, she buried it in her garden beneath a sundial. On the sundial’s base, she had inscribed:
As the wife of a politician who often took controversial stands, Clementine was used to being snubbed and treated rudely by the wives of other politicians. However, she could take only so much. Traveling at one time with Lord Moyne and his guests, the party was listening to a BBC broadcast in which the speaker, a vehemently pro-appeasement politician, criticized Winston by name. Vera, Lady Broughton, a guest of Moyne, said “hear, hear” at the criticism of Churchill. Clementine waited for her host to offer a conciliatory word but, when none came, she stormed back to her cabin, wrote a note to Moyne, and packed her bags. Lady Broughton came and begged Clementine to stay, but she would accept no apologies for the insult to her husband. She went ashore and sailed for home the next morning.
During World War II she was Chairman of the Red Cross Aid to Russia Fund, the President of the Young Women's Christian Association War Time Appeal and the Chairman of Fulmer Chase Maternity Hospital for Wives of Junior Officers. The Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow, Middlesex is named after her.
In 1946 she was appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, becoming Dame Clementine Churchill GBE. Later, she was awarded honorary degrees by the University of Glasgow and the University of Oxford and later, in 1976, by the University of Bristol. In May 1965, she was created a life peer as Baroness Spencer-Churchill, of Chartwell in the County of Kent. She sat as a cross-bencher, but her growing deafness precluded her taking a regular part in parliamentary life.
Like many elderly Britons, Lady Spencer-Churchill found that inflation and rising expenses made it difficult to meet the costs of living. In early 1977 she sent five paintings by her late husband to auction. The sale went much better than expected, and rescued her from her financial difficulties. Only after her death was it discovered that she had destroyed the famous Graham Sutherland portrait of her husband because she did not like it.
Lady Spencer-Churchill died in Princes Gate, Knightsbridge, London of a heart attack at the age of 92. She is buried with her husband and deceased children at St Martin's Church, Bladon, near Woodstock in Oxfordshire.
|1 April 1885||2 September 1908||Miss Clementine Hozier|
|2 September 1908||1946||Mrs. Winston Churchill|
|1946||24 April 1953||Dame Clementine Churchill, GBE|
|24 April 1953||17 May 1965||Clementine, Lady Churchill, GBE|
|17 May 1965||12 December 1977||The Rt. Hon. The Baroness Spencer-Churchill, GBE|
|Spouse of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
|Spouse of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom