Although praised for leading Great Britain through its darkest hour, Winston Churchill has admittedly alluded his successes to the support of his dear wife, Clementine Churchill, who aside from being the wife of the prime minister, was also a lifetime member of the House of Lords.
During the first world war, Clementine, among other efforts, helped organize canteens for munitions workers in the North East Metropolitan Area of London. In the second world war, she served as Chairman of the Red Cross Aid to Russia Fund, the President of the Young Women’s Christian Association War Time Appeal, and the Chairman of Maternity Hospital for the Wives of Officers. She would further be instrumental in returning her husband to the office of prime minister in the 1951 elections.
But more than these, Clementine was a mother of five children, three of whom she outlived. Here is a look at six interesting facts about her, including details of her early life.
Clementine Churchill Early Life
Clementine Churchill was born Clementine Ogilvy Hozier in Mayfair, London, England, on 1st April 1885. Although historians record that she was the daughter of Sir Henry Hozier and Lady Blanche Hozier, who is the daughter of David Ogilvy the 10th Earl of Airlie, many others till this day question her paternity as her mother was quite famed for her infidelity while her father was said to be sterile.
Growing up, Clementine was privy to an affluent life like few children who come from her kind of background. In the summer of 1899, when she was fourteen, she moved with her family to the coastal community of Dieppe, in northern France, where the family had a restful summer, bathing, canoeing, picnicking, and blackberrying. However, tragedy struck when her eldest sister, Kitty Ogilvy Hozier, came down with typhoid fever and died the following year, 1900.
Clementine was first home-schooled before she was enrolled at Edinburgh school for a rather short period. She later attended Berkhamsted School for Girls (now renamed Berkhamsted School).
6 Things You Should Know About Winston Churchill’s Wife
1. Clementine Was Taller and Perhaps More Athletic Than Her Husband
This is closely linked to her incredible experiences hunting, playing tennis and swimming when she was growing up. According to those who knew her, Clementine Churchill had a burst of catching laughter. Which was way louder than her husband’s chuckle.
2. She Was Bold
Clementine Churchill was known to be bold and courageous and would often stand up to her husband when she thought he had taken a wrong step, thus becoming her husband’s most trusted ally and accomplice. She also comforted Winston who reportedly cried more often than her.
Clementine, however, did not grow up that way. As a girl, she was known to be excessively fearful as she once broke her ankle when fleeing from a moth.
3. She Was a Mother of Five
After being married for over 56 years, Clementine Churchill was widowed on 24 January 1965 when her husband died nine days after a major stroke. They had married on 12 September 1908, in St. Margaret’s, Westminster, and honeymooned in Baveno, Venice, and Castle of Veveří in Moravia. Together, they had five children; Diana (1909–1963); Randolph (1911–1968); Sarah (1914–1982); Marigold (1918–1921); and Mary (1922–2014), with only two outliving her.
4. Clementine was a Life-long Antagonist of the Conservative
Although her husband headed this party in the course of his political career, Clementine harbored a deep-seated grudge with the Conservative party all her life and would occasionally take it out on them especially when they chanted views she opposed. She had been a natural Liberal and continued to promote liberal values all her life.
5. Honorary Titles
In 1946, Clementine was appointed a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire, making her Dame Clementine Churchill GBE. In the ensuing years, she was awarded honorary degrees by the University of Glasgow and the University of Oxford. In 1976, about a decade after her husband’s death, she was awarded another honorary degree by the University of Bristol.
6. Institutions Named After Her
After her death on 12 December 1977, the Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow, Middlesex, got named after her. More so, a plaque sits on the Berkhamsted house where the young Clementine Hozier had lived when she schooled at Berkhamsted Girls’ School. It was unveiled in 1979 by her youngest daughter, Baroness Soames.