Charting Churchill: Berry Bros. & Rudd, Wine Merchants, 3 St. James’s Street, London

by Leslie Hossack

Berry Bros. & Rudd, 3 St. James's Street, London 2014 by Leslie Hossack

Berry Bros. & Rudd, Wine Merchants, 3 St. James’s Street, London 2014

© Leslie Hossack

It is well known that Winston Churchill enjoyed the finer things in life, although his taste for luxuries generally exceeded his budget. He was particularly fond of champagne, preferring Pol Roger. In 1938, he ordered 108 bottles of the 1921 vintage from John Fenton & Co. Wine Merchant.

Shown above is Berry Bros. & Rudd Wine Merchants, located at 3 St. James’s Street. Although Churchill would have known about this establishment, he did not patronize them. However, in their archives is a telegram, dated December 2nd 1950, that was sent from Winston to Pug (Lord Ismay, Churchill’s chief military assistant during World War II). It reads: LORD ISMAY WORMINGTON GRANGE BORADWAY WORCS; THANK YOU SO MUCH MY DEAR PUG FOR YOUR LOVELY ELEPHANT = WINSTON. An elephant was a large refillable bottle of Cognac, which Lord Ismay (Pug) used to get refilled at Berry Bros & Rudd.

At the Churchill Society International Convention in London in August 1989, Dr. Maurice Ashley gave an address called As I Knew Him: Churchill in the Wilderness. Ashley remarked: Much has been written about Churchill’s own drinking habits. When I used to visit him in the morning at a flat he had in Morpeth Mansions near Victoria, he always greeted me with a glass of sherry. He could not stand cocktails. For lunch there was beer, at tea he had whisky. But his whisky and sodas were pretty mild… He is reputed once to have said, “I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.” Dr. Ashley also noted that at Chartwell, Churchill had sherry before dinner, followed by champagne, brandy and port.

Referencing a quote by Napoleon, Churchill himself said: “I cannot live without champagne; in victory I deserve it; in defeat I need it.”

The image featured above is part of the limited edition collector’s portfolio created by Leslie Hossack. She presents locations that chart Sir Winston Churchill’s personal and political life, from his birth at Blenheim Palace in 1874 until his death in London in 1965. THE CHURCHILL PHOTOGRAPHS are part of Hossack’s larger body of work that explores Nazi architecture in Berlin, Stalinist structures in Moscow, contested sites in Jerusalem, a Cold War bunker in Ottawa, NATO’s Headquarter Camp in Kosovo, and buildings linked to the Japanese Canadian internment during World War II.

To view more photographs, please visit Leslie’s website.  lesliehossack.com

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