Charting Churchill: Garden Front of House, Ditchley Park

by Leslie Hossack

Garden Front and House, Ditchley Park 2014 by Leslie Hossack

Garden Front of House, Ditchley Park 2014

© Leslie Hossack

Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s official country residence, Chequers, was considered too dangerous on moonlight nights during the Blitz. Having been advised not to visit Chequers when the moon was high, Churchill spent a dozen weekends at Ditchley Park during World War II.

When at Ditchley Park, Churchill slept in the second floor Yellow Bedroom on the garden side of the house, overlooking the lawns and lake; Mrs. Churchill had an adjoining room. Their windows can be seen in the centre of this photograph.

According to Ashley Jackson: “Busy days gave way to busy evenings at Ditchley, as the house adapted to the pace of life favoured by Churchill, interlacing work and leisure, office time, busy mealtimes, and late night films, conferences, and dictation.” (Winston Churchill, Oxfordshire, and Ditchley Park) In addition to his personal staff, Churchill had countless visitors at Ditchley Park. These included: Harry Hopkins, Averell Harriman, Lord Rothermere, General Henry “Hap” Arnold, Anthony Eden, Polish Prime Minister General Vlatislav Sikorski, Czechoslovakian Prime Minister Eduard Beneš, and even the actor David Niven.

For the Prime Minister, the business of running the war went on as usual. Various meetings at Ditchley were attended by General Sir Alan Brooke (Chief of the Imperial General Staff), Air Marshal Sir Charles Portal (Chief of the Air Staff), Admiral Sir Dudley Pound (First Sea Lord), General Sir Robert Haining (Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff), Vice Admiral Sir Tom Phillips (Vice Chief of the Naval Staff), General Sir Hastings ‘Pug’ Ismay (Deputy Secretary of the War Cabinet).

On May 11th 1941, the Duke of Hamilton visited Churchill at Ditchley Park to inform him about the arrival of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s Deputy Führer. He had flown solo from Germany the previous day and parachuted into Scotland. His plan had been to meet with the Duke of Hamilton and through him bring Britain to the negotiating table. The walls at Ditchley Park could tell amazing tales.

The image featured above is part of the limited edition collector’s portfolio created by Leslie Hossack to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill. She presents locations that chart 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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