Family Man

Family was always important to Winston Churchill. In his own words, he ‘married and lived happily ever after’ (My Early Life). He married Clementine Hozier on 12 September 1908, after proposing to her in the Temple of Diana at Blenheim Palace. The wedding took place at St Margaret’s Church Westminster, opposite the Houses of Parliament. They had five children; Diana, Randolph, Sarah, Marigold and Mary. Marigold died in infancy. He was nowhere happier than at his country house, Chartwell, in Kent surrounded by his family and by his animals; dogs, cats, swans, fish, pigs, sheep and even a budgerigar named Toby. He could have been buried in London, but chose to lie alongside his parents in St Martin’s churchyard at Bladon, within sight of his birthplace at Blenheim Palace. This section will tell you more about his family life.

‘There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained.’
Churchill, 16 November 1948, on the birth of Prince Charles

The Engagement Churchill proposed to Clementine at Blenheim Palace

Churchill proposed marriage to three women in his twenties, all of whom said ‘no’ (although all of them remained his friends). He met Clementine Ogilvy Hozier, ten years his junior, at a party, the Crewe House ball, in 1904 but the meeting wasn’t a success. Unusually for him, Churchill was tongue-tied and they hardly spoke.

When they met again, however, at a dinner party in 1908 (Clementine had been invited at the last minute, to fill a gap at her great-aunt’s table), they clearly got on rather better. Impressed by her beauty, her intelligence and her ability to talk politics (she was an earnest Liberal and supporter of greater rights for women, Churchill began an ardent courtship. They became engaged only a few months later, on Tuesday 11 August, when Churchill proposed to her while they were both staying at Blenheim Palace (Churchill had encouraged the Duke of Marlborough to invite her to a small house party). After failing to appear in the morning, and almost blowing his chance, Winston took Clementine for a walk in the afternoon to the Rose Garden and, sheltering from a shower in the Temple of Diana, he asked her to marry him. She agreed.

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The Engagement

Churchill proposed marriage to three women in his twenties, all of whom said ‘no’ (although all of them remained his friends). He met Clementine Ogilvy Hozier, ten years his junior, at a party, the Crewe House ball, in 1904 but the meeting wasn’t a success. Unusually for him, Churchill was tongue-tied and they hardly spoke.

When they met again, however, at a dinner party in 1908 (Clementine had been invited at the last minute, to fill a gap at her great-aunt’s table), they clearly got on rather better. Impressed by her beauty, her intelligence and her ability to talk politics (she was an earnest Liberal and supporter of greater rights for women, Churchill began an ardent courtship.

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Chartwell Life in the country

Although Churchill enjoyed travelling and holidays, he was happiest at Chartwell. Purchased in 1922, much against Clementine’s wishes, it was dilapidated and in very poor repair and Churchill dedicated much of his energy – and funds – to renovating and developing the house and grounds. He ended up doing much of the smaller building work himself, taking on the construction of a dam, a swimming pool (which proved very costly to heat), brick walls around the vegetable garden and creating a butterfly house out of a former larder, as well as re-tiling a cottage in Chartwell’s grounds.

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Sir Winston and His Mother

Winston Churchill and His Mother Jennie Jerome

New York Times Service article written at the time of Sir Winston Churchill’s death in 1965.


NEW YORK Sir Winston Churchill’s mother was one of the liveliest and most controversial women of her time.

Jennie Jerome, born in Brooklyn of a mother who was one-quarter Iroquois Indian, was one of the few tattooed women in high society. The dark beauty’s tattooing was a snake coiled around her left wrist.

She married Lord Randolph Churchill and for many years was a glamorous figure in English society. In the book, The Glitter and the Gold, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, the former Duchess of Marlborough, wrote of her:

“She was still, in middle age, the mistress of many hearts, and the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) was known to delight in her company. Her grey eyes sparkled with the joy of living and when, as was often the case, her anecdotes were risqué it was with her eyes as well as her words that one could read the implications. She was an accomplished pianist, an intelligent and well-informed reader and an enthusiastic advocate of any novelty.”

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Winston and Clementine

By The Lady Diana Cooper, 1892-1986
Published in Finest Hour 83

Famed for her beauty and the “durable fire” of her marriage to Alfred Duff Cooper, First Viscount Norwich, Lady Diana Cooper was early admitted to a delightful friendship with Winston and Clementine Churchill. Few write better of the happiness they shared.


FROM the solemn moment when the world knew that Winston Churchill had breathed his last, a roll of honour of some seventeenth-century poet elusively haunted me. To lay it I asked friends, poets, and publishers, even All Souls College. All remembered it, but none could place the lines that say:

O that Sir Philip Sidney should be dead
O that Sir Walter Raleigh should be dead.

Many another glorious name is listed, and now we can add:

O that Sir Winston Churchill should be dead.
He above all these is not to be moumed. He lived his last years imprisoned by age, and now that the iron gates of life are opened, his spirit soars to the liberty he lived for. Nothing survives – not marble nor gilded monuments at Westminster Abbey, not even pyramids enclosing pharaohs. Only legend remains, and Sir Winston’s legend is as secure as that of any hero who fought and triumphed over evil. His fame will last when records are effaced, till legends become fables, and fables histories.

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WinstonChurchill.org

The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.