This Item Has Been Sold


From the Estate of Sir John Colville


3 x 7 3/4 inches

Item Number: 210638


Winston Churchill was a compulsive doodler. He famously drew animal doodles in his letters to his wife Clementine (he was “Pig,” she was “Puss.”) In the latter months of World War II, with his time as Prime Minister waning, Churchill drew his Private Secretary, John Colville, a flower.

The memorandum, written in ink, all in Colville’s hand, is on “Prime Minister”-embossed notepaper. Though undated, it clearly was written in 1945 during what would be the last months of Winston Churchill’s wartime Premiership:

“PM: I attach the precedents for peerage to Lords Chancellor. I gather from Sir A. Lascelles that Mr Attlee does attach a good deal of importance to the Jowitt Earldom though he readily gave way about poor Lord Addison.”

Colville initial-signs his memorandum: “JRC.”

Winston Churchill’s reply is scrawled in red ink at the top: “await full list.” Additionally, Churchill has drawn a bright red flower beside Colville’s initials.

The “Sir A. Lascelles” referred to here is indeed the all-knowing, power behind-the-throne courtier, “TOMMY LASCELLES,” made infamous in THE CROWN, who served as both King George VI and, later, young Queen Elizabeth’s Private Secretary and all around fixer. Lascelles was a close insider friend to John Colville. CLEMENT ATLEE, as Leader of the Labour Party, was Deputy Prime Minister in Churchill’s bipartisan War Cabinet, but was about to be elected PM in July 1945, soon after this memo was written. He appears to have been advocating for the elevation of two Labour leaders to peerages: WILLIAM JOWITT,who served Churchill in a variety of cabinet ministerships during the war, was appointed Lord Chancellor by Attlee in his new Labour government; CHRISTOPHER ADDISON, who became Leader of the Labour peers in 1940, ascended to Leader of the House of Lords after Labour’s victory in 1945.

The note is in fine condition, file-punched at the upper left corner. The flower drawing by Churchill is rare, if not unique.

This memorandum was acquired from the estate of Sir John Colville (1915-1987), Winston Churchill’s Private Secretary during the war, and after, right through Churchill’s second stint as Prime Minister. No one was closer to Churchill at work than Sir John Rupert Colville, familiarly known as “Jock.”

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