Tag: Westerham

Grace Hamblin, Total Churchillian

Grace Hamblin, Total Churchillian

Grace Ham­blin at Dal­las, 1987.

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.…

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Churchill’s Common Touch (2)

Churchill’s Common Touch (2)

Con­tin­ued from Part I…

Part 2: Alice Bate­man

WSC in his limo, 1959: “C’mon Alice, you can do bet­ter than that!”….“G’wan, you fat old man, you get out of that car and walk your­self, you’ll live longer!”

Two oth­er West­er­ham com­mon folk who ben­e­fit­ted from Churchill’s char­ac­ter­is­tic kind­li­ness were Tom and Alice Bate­man, farm­ers who scratched out a liv­ing near Chartwell. Per­cy Reid, a stringer for a Lon­don news­pa­per, who kept an eye on Chartwell doings after World War II, wrote charm­ing­ly of a cat­tle sale in his book, Churchill: Towns­man of West­er­ham (Folke­stone: Regency, 1969):

Capt.…

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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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