Rare COUNTRY HOUSE PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM
-Containing Two Original Unseen Photographs of Winston Churchill as a Young Man-
4to [16 x 13 inches] (51 pages containing 207 albumen photographic prints)
Hardcover [Purple cloth]
Item Number: 210108
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This extraordinary country house album was assembled by Winston Churchill’s aunt, Lady Georgiana Curzon, Countess Howe (1860-1906), sister of Lord Randolph, daughter of Winston Churchill’s paternal grandfather John Spencer-Churchill, the 7th Duke of Marlborough; and the wife of Richard George Penn Curzon, 4th Earl of Howe.
The fifty-one page album contains 207 tipped-in and hand-annotated original albumen photographs that document the social life at a number of country house residences frequented by the so-called “Marlborough House Set.” One group of images was taken at Canford Manor, the estate of another Churchill Aunt, Cornelia Spencer-Churchill, and her husband Sir Ivor “Bertie” Guest, the Viscount Wimborne. They include a stunning photograph of Jennie Churchill and two of “Winston and Jack” Churchill that appear to be unique to this album.
Young Winston Churchill famously spent the winter of 1892 at Canford with his family. As he wrote in MY EARLY LIFE: “My Aunt, Lady Wimborne, had lent us her comfortable estate at Bournemouth for the winter… It was a small, wild place and through the middle there fell to the sea level a deep cleft called a ‘chine.’ Across this ‘chine’ a rustic bridge nearly 50 yards long had been thrown. My younger brother, aged 12, and a cousin, aged 14, proposed to chase me. After I had been hunted for twenty minutes and was rather short of breath, I decided to cross the bridge. Arrived at its centre I saw to my consternation that the pursuers had divided their forces. One stood at each end of the bridge; capture seemed certain. But in a flash there came across me a great project. The chine which the bridge spanned was full of fir trees. Their slender tops reached to the level of the footway. ‘Would it not,’ I asked myself, ‘be possible to leap to one of them and slip down the pole-like stem… I looked at it. I computed it. I meditated… To plunge or not to plunge, that was the question! In a second I had plunged, throwing out my arms to embrace the summit of the fir tree. The argument was correct; the data were absolutely wrong. It was three days before I regained consciousness.”
The accident nearly killed the 18-year-old Churchill. His recovery lasted over two months. The photographs here are no doubt the last taken of Winston Churchill before his fall.
The laced-back album of purple cloth has marbled endpapers and a three-quarter leather binding that is quite rubbed and cracking, with some separation to the lower front spine edge, but is otherwise intact, with faint fading to some images and light foxing to the mounts. The photographs of famous (and some infamous) members of the Marlborough House set appear to include the Prince of Wales, as well as countless horses and dogs (most named).
A fabulously evocative album, but also a precious repository of one-of-a-kind Churchillian photographic portraiture from a critical moment in the life of young Winston Churchill.