Tag: Grace Hamblin

Grace Hamblin, Total Churchillian

Grace Hamblin, Total Churchillian

Remem­ber­ing Grace: 1908-2002

Beloved by all Churchills, Grace Ham­blin died at her home in West­er­ham, Kent, aged 94. Aware she was ail­ing, I had just sent her some lit­tle thing in the post; Car­ole Ken­wright at Chartwell said it arrived in time, and she was able to read from it for a few min­utes.

Grace Ham­blin was the longest serv­ing and most loy­al­ly devot­ed of Churchill’s inner cir­cle, arriv­ing at Chartwell in 1932 as an assis­tant to then-prin­ci­pal pri­vate sec­re­tary Vio­let Pear­man. She spent vir­tu­al­ly her entire career as pri­vate sec­re­tary, first to Win­ston and from 1939 to Clemen­tine. In 1966 she became the first Admin­is­tra­tor of Chartwell, serv­ing through 1973. In 1974 she was sec­re­tary to the Churchill Cen­te­nary Exhi­bi­tion.…

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Churchill’s Common Touch (4)

Churchill’s Common Touch (4)

con­tin­ued from part 3…

Part 4: “Being Shout­ed At”

“I think being shout­ed at was one of the worst things to get over,” said Grace Ham­blin, sec­re­tary to Win­ston and then Clemen­tine Churchill from 1932, typ­i­cal of the com­mon Ken­tish folk who loved them. “I’d come from a very qui­et fam­i­ly and I’d nev­er been shout­ed at in my life. But I had to learn it, in time.”

In the midst of dic­ta­tion one day, Grace told me, Churchill com­mand­ed: “Fetch me Klop!” Klop? she thought—what could it mean?

Final­ly, proud­ly, she strug­gled in with Onno Klopp‘s 14 giant vol­umes, Der Fall des Haus­es Stu­art. “Jesus Christ!” Churchill roared.…

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Churchill’s Common Touch (1)

Churchill’s Common Touch (1)

Part 1: Mr & Mrs Don­key Jack

A recent book by a dis­tin­guished his­to­ri­an sug­gests that Win­ston Churchill dis­dained com­mon peo­ple. It cites anoth­er Prime Min­is­ter, H.H. Asquith, dur­ing World War I, pro­vid­ing a tow to a bro­ken-down motorist and giv­ing two chil­dren a lift in his car. The writer adds: “It is hard to imag­ine Win­ston Churchill behav­ing in such a fash­ion.”

It is not hard at all. In fact, Churchill did fre­quent kind things for ordi­nary peo­ple he encoun­tered, pri­vate­ly and with­out fan­fare. We know about them only through his pri­vate cor­re­spon­dence, thanks to the offi­cial biog­ra­phy, Mar­tin Gilbert, or the tes­ti­mo­ny of observers.…

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