As we ponder the impending climax this week of our “Churchill in Charge” auction with Sotheby’s, our thoughts turn back to Winston Churchill’s first week in charge eighty years ago. Magnanimity was the signature of Winston Churchill’s ascent to the office of Prime Minister in May 1940. Uniting his nation by forgiving his enemies, Churchill believed, was the only possible path to victory.

And so, on becoming Prime Minister, Churchill immediately reached out to his political opponents, bidding them join him in a bipartisan government to defeat their common adversary.

Churchill’s first act as Prime Minister was to write two letters, one to Neville Chamberlain, his ousted former nemesis, the other to Chamberlain’s appeasement-minded Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, inviting them to stay on as members of Churchill’s War Cabinet. Magnanimity remained Churchill’s governing principle. “No-one had more right to pass a sponge across the past,” he would later concede. “I therefore resisted these disruptive tendencies.”

Churchill’s extraordinary graciousness to his predecessor was unprecedented. Recognizing the terrible blow Chamberlain had endured in being so unceremoniously removed from office, Churchill invited him to remain at No. 10 until Chamberlain was prepared to go. In the end, Churchill did not move his family into the Prime Minister’s residence for over a month. He then went on to lead a bipartisan coalition government for the duration of the war.

“Churchill in Charge” has received some gratifying press attention in the U.K.

Here’s what THE TELEGRAPH had to say.


Sotheby’s has also created a lavishly informative web page for the auction, including a marvelous
“Churchill in Charge” VIDEO.
Don’t miss it.


We continue to wish you health, safety and, yes, magnanimity.
Do not hesitate to contact us for any reason at all.