Tag: butterflies

Churchill’s Butterflies

Churchill’s Butterflies

Chartwell gard­ner Stephen Humphrey took charge of the but­ter­flies. (BBC)

David Rid­dle, a Nation­al Trust vol­un­teer at Chartwell, offers the obscure his­to­ry of the “But­ter­fly House” Churchill estab­lished to prop­a­gate but­ter­flies on the grounds of his home:

 

The But­ter­fly House was first used as a game larder between 1869-1889 by the Colquhoun fam­i­ly, who owned the Chartwell Estate between 1830 and 1921. In 1924, Churchill and Philip Tilden, his archi­tect, con­vert­ed the larder to a sum­mer house by remov­ing the east wall. In 1946 it was con­vert­ed again, this time to a But­ter­fly House.…

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Churchill and Butterflies

Churchill and Butterflies

Small tor­toise­shell, one of Churchill’s favorites, has declined at Chartwell in recent years, but can still be found there.

Churchill was fas­ci­nat­ed by but­ter­flies since boy­hood and col­lect­ed many col­or­ful local vari­eties while sta­tioned in India in 1896-97. At Chartwell, he began rais­ing but­ter­flies  in 1939 and con­tin­ued after Chartwell was reopened after the war. The but­ter­fly “farm” was set up with the help of Hugh New­man, who described the events in Finest Hour 89, Win­ter 1995-96, start­ing at page 34; a .pdf is ava­iable: click here. 

Sir Winston’s daugh­ter Lady Soames was not sure when exact­ly this hob­by end­ed, but it might have been after an event described by long­time Chartwell sec­re­tary and Chartwell admin­is­tra­tor the late Grace Ham­blin, at the 1987 Dal­las Churchill Con­fer­ence, reprint­ed in Finest Hour 117:

 …he had a lit­tle hut in the gar­den, which is still there.…

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“12 million feathers on his wings…”

“12 million feathers on his wings…”

I came across a say­ing by Churchill on the lines of: “There are 13 mil­lion feath­ers on a dragonfly’s wing yet it is but a mouth­ful for a bird.” He was say­ing that only in humans does one finds sen­ti­men­tal­i­ty, sad­ness or com­pas­sion for dread­ful things that hap­pen.  —R.H.

I searched for “dragonfly’s wing” and noth­ing came up. I tried “mil­lion feath­ers” and sure enough! Great quote. Sor­ry I missed it in Churchill by Him­self, but it will be in the sequel, The Defin­i­tive Wit of Win­ston Churchill.

On 10 Jan­u­ary 1898 Win­ston wrote to his moth­er, Lady Ran­dolph Churchill, from Ban­ga­lore, India, where he was sta­tioned, implor­ing her to help him join the Sudan Cam­paign as a war cor­re­spon­dent.…

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