Charting Churchill: Church House, London

by Leslie Hossack

Hoar Hall, Church House, Dean's Yard, London 2014 by Leslie Hossack

Hoar Memorial Hall, Church House, Dean’s Yard, London 2014

© Leslie Hossack

A panel in Hoar Memorial Hall, unveiled in 1948 by Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Winston Churchill, reads as follows.

THIS HALL OF CHURCH HOUSE WAS AS OCCASION REQUIRED DURING THE YEARS 1940 1941 & 1944 THE CHAMBER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. WITHIN ITS WALLS THE PRIME MINISTER WINSTON CHURCHILL IN THE DARKEST DAYS OF THE WAR SPOKE TO THE COMMONS AND TO THE NATION THE WORDS HERE RECORDED.

Today, in inaugurating the new Session of Parliament, we proclaim the depth and sincerity of our resolve to keep vital and active, even in the midst of our struggle for life, even under the fire of the enemy, those parliamentary institutions which have served us so well, which have proved themselves the most flexible instruments for securing ordered unceasing change and progress: which, while they throw open the portals of the future, carry forward also the traditions and glories of the past and which, at this solemn moment in the world’s history, are at once the proudest assertion of British freedom and an expression of an unconquerable national will.   21st November 1940

On May 24th 1941, Prime Minister Churchill took to the stage in Hoar Hall to announce the sinking of the Bismark. “Great as is our loss in the Hood, the Bismark must be regarded as the most powerful as she is the newest battleship in the world, and this striking of her from the German Navy is a very definite simplification of the task of maintaining the effective mastery of the Northern seas and the maintenance of the Northern blockade.”

Recalling 1941, Churchill addressed the House of Commons in October 1943. “On the night of May 10, 1941, with one of the last bombs of the last serious raid, our House of Commons was destroyed by the violence of the enemy, and we have now to consider whether we should build it up again, and how, and when. We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us. Having dwelt and served for more than forty years in the late Chamber, and having derived very great pleasure and advantage therefrom, I, naturally, should like to see it restored in all essentials to its old form, convenience and dignity.”

During World War II, Parliament met at Church House in November-December 1940; April-June 1941, when the House of Commons Chamber was destroyed; and June-August 1944, when London was threatened by V1 flying bombs.

To learn more about events of 1944, please visit the BBC World War II Timeline. This BBC summary, prepared by Bruce Robinson, was last updated in 2011.

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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