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The Papers of Sir Winston Churchill

Reference Code: GBR/0014/CHAR, CHUR and CHAQ

Scope and Contents

The papers consist of original documents accumulated by Sir Winston Churchill throughout his life (1874-1965). They have been divided into three sections: the Chartwell Papers (CHAR) and the Churchill Papers (CHUR), with some additional material (CHAQ). Together, the three sets of papers cover the following major areas:

Personal (CHAR 1, CHUR 1 and CHAQ 1/1 and 2/1), 1884-1965

The papers of Churchill as a private person. They include correspondence with or about his family and friends on non-public topics and papers relating to Churchill's personal, financial and legal affairs and his social life.

Public and Political: general (CHAR 2, CHUR 2 and CHAQ 1/2 and 2/2), 1898-1964

The papers relating to Churchill's activities as a person in public life other than his work as MP for a particular constituency or as a Minister. The content of these classes is very diverse and includes notes and correspondence with colleagues, acquaintances and the general public on topics of contemporary general interest, on party political matters, and on appointments to various positions. These classes also include papers relating to governmental business with which Churchill was not involved as a Minister or a member of the Cabinet.

Constituency (CHAR 3-CHAR 7, CHUR 3 and CHAQ 1/3-4), 1900-1964

These classes cover each of the constituencies represented by Churchill (Oldham, North-West Manchester, Dundee, Epping and Woodford). Each class contains correspondence and papers relating to local affairs generally, elections, meetings and speeches. There is correspondence with constituents on general political topics and about Churchill's actions on behalf of local interests.

Literary (CHAR 8, CHUR 4 and CHAQ 1/5 and 2/3), 1890-1965

These classes contain correspondence with publishers, editors and printers, and other correspondence in connection with Churchill's huge output of literary and journalistic work both during and after publication. The classes also contain material assembled for writing, notes and drafts, printer's copy, proofs and reviews.

Speeches (CHAR 9, CHUR 5 and CHAQ 1/6 and 2/4), 1897-1965

The papers in these classes are arranged (as far as possible) by particular speeches and include notes, drafts, speaking notes, press releases, press cuttings, extracts from Hansard (the parliamentary record of debates in the House of Commons) and printed material.

Official (CHAR 10-27, CHUR 6 and CHAQ 1/7-10 and 2/5), 1902-1957

There is one class for each office held by Churchill. The departmental classes contain the correspondence, memoranda, prints, and other papers arising out of Churchill's activities as a Minister responsible for particular departments and include correspondence with colleagues, officials, acquaintances, and the general public.


  • Creation: The majority of files date from the 1870s to 1965.

Conditions Governing Access

The Churchill Papers are made available to researchers using Churchill Archives Centre and worldwide in digital format. The digital edition of the Churchill Papers is published by Bloomsbury Academic and is available online to subscribing institutions at The Churchill archive is freely available in our reading rooms and onsite at Churchill College (via the Churchill College wireless network). Researchers can download images of documents directly from and so are encouraged to consider bringing a laptop or other device for this purpose. For conservation reasons, the fragile originals are no longer issued to researchers.

This digital edition is open to researchers unless otherwise marked in the catalogue. Some material has been closed by the Cabinet Office or by Churchill Archives Centre in accordance with data protection legislation.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

The Child
Winston Churchill was born into the privileged world of the British aristocracy on November 30, 1874. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a younger son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough. His mother, Jennie Jerome, was the daughter of an American business tycoon, Leonard Jerome.

Winston's childhood was not a particularly happy one. Like many Victorian parents, Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill were distant. The family Nanny, Mrs Everest, became a surrogate mother to Winston and his younger brother, John S Churchill.

The Soldier
After passing out of Sandhurst and gaining his commission in the 4th Hussars' in February 1895, Churchill saw his first shots fired in anger during a semi-official expedition to Cuba later that year. He enjoyed the experience which coincided with his 21st birthday.

In 1897 Churchill saw more action on the North West Frontier of India, fighting against the Pathans. He rode his grey pony along the skirmish lines in full view of the enemy. "Foolish perhaps," he told his mother, " but I play for high stakes and given an audience there is no act too daring and too noble." Churchill wrote about his experiences in his first book The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898). He soon became an accomplished war reporter, getting paid large sums for stories he sent to the press - something which did not make him popular with his senior officers.

Using his mother's influence, Churchill got himself assigned to Kitchener's army in Egypt. While fighting against the Dervishes he took part in the last great cavalry charge in English history - at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898.

Churchill had always been determined, as he said, to beat his sword into an iron dispatch box. So in 1899 he left the army to stand for parliament. He was defeated and almost immediately left for South Africa as war correspondent for the Morning Post. Never able to resist a fight, he took part in the defence of an armoured train which had been ambushed by the Boers. He was captured and treated as a prisoner of war, but within a few weeks he escaped and made his way back to Durban. Churchill was hailed as a hero and took advantage of his status: he always treated advancement as a springboard not a sofa. He obtained a military commission from the Commander-in-Chief but continued to act as a war correspondent, enjoying many further adventures.

After his successful election to parliament in 1900, Churchill continued to trade on his military experiences and eventually became First Lord of the Admiralty. But in spirit he always remained a dashing cavalry officer and his rashness in attack often got him into trouble, notably over the Dardanelles disaster in 1915. As a result he resigned from his Cabinet post and joined the Scots Fusiliers who were fighting on the Western Front. Once again he enjoyed the experience - he actually liked the noise made by the "whiz-bangs". He was a popular and efficient officer, as well as a brave one. But his heart was at Westminster and in May 1916 he returned to the political fray.

The Politician
Churchill was first elected to parliament in 1900 shortly before the death of Queen Victoria. He took his seat in the House of Commons as the Conservative Member for Oldham in February 1901 and made his maiden speech four days later. But after only four years as a Conservative he crossed the floor and joined the Liberals, making the flamboyant gesture of sitting next to one of the leading radicals, David Lloyd George.

Churchill rose swiftly within the Liberal ranks and became a Cabinet Minister in 1908 - President of the Board of Trade. In this capacity and as Home Secretary (1910-11) he helped to lay the foundations of the post-1945 welfare state.

His parliamentary career was far from being plain sailing and he made a number of spectacular blunders, so much so that he was often accused of having genius without judgement. The chief setback of his career occurred in 1915 when, as First Lord of the Admiralty, he sent a naval force to the Dardanelles in an attempt to knock Turkey out of the war and to outflank Germany on a continental scale. The expedition was a disaster and it marked the lowest point in Churchill's fortunes.

However, Churchill could not be kept out of power for long and Lloyd George, anxious to draw on his talents and to spike his critical guns, soon re-appointed him to high office. Their relationship was not always a comfortable one, particularly when Churchill tried to involve Britain in a crusade against the Bolsheviks in Russia after the Great War.

Between 1922 and 1924 Churchill left the Liberal Party and, after some hesitation, rejoined the Conservatives. Anyone could "rat", he remarked complacently, but it took a certain ingenuity to "re-rat". To his surprise, Churchill was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer by Stanley Baldwin, an office in which he served from 1924 to 1929. He was an ebullient if increasingly anachronistic figure, returning Britain to the Gold Standard and taking an aggressive part in opposing the General Strike of 1926.

After the Tories were defeated in 1929, Churchill fell out with Baldwin over the question of giving India further self-government. Churchill became more and more isolated in politics and he found the experience of perpetual opposition deeply frustrating. He also made further blunders, notably by supporting King Edward VIII during the abdication crisis of 1936. Largely as a consequence of such errors, people did not heed Churchill's dire warnings about the rise of Hitler and the hopelessness of the appeasement policy. After the Munich crisis, however, Churchill's prophecies were seen to be coming true and when war broke out in September 1939 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain appointed him First Lord of the Admiralty. So, nearly twenty-five years after he had left the post in pain and sorrow, the Navy sent out a signal to the Fleet: "Winston is back".

The War Leader
For the first nine months of the conflict, Churchill proved that he was, as Admiral Fisher had once said, "a war man". Chamberlain was not. Consequently the failures of the Norwegian Campaign were blamed on the pacific Prime Minister rather than the belligerent First Lord, and, when Chamberlain resigned after criticisms in the House of Commons, Churchill became leader of a coalition government. The date was May 10, 1940: it was Churchill's, as well as Britain's, finest hour.

When the German armies conquered France and Britain faced the Blitz, Churchill embodied his country's will to resist. His oratory proved an inspiration. When asked exactly what Churchill did to win the war, Clement Attlee, the Labour leader who served in the coalition government, replied: "Talk about it." Churchill talked incessantly, in private as well as in public - to the astonishment of his private secretary, Jock Colville, he once spent an entire luncheon addressing himself exclusively to the marmalade cat.

Churchill devoted much of his energy to trying to persuade President Roosevelt to support him in the war. He wrote the President copious letters and established a strong personal relationship with him. And he managed to get American help in the Atlantic, where until 1943 Britain's lifeline to the New World was always under severe threat from German U-Boats.

Despite Churchill's championship of Edward VIII, and despite his habit of arriving late for meetings with the neurotically punctual King at Buckingham Palace, he achieved good relations with George VI and his family. Clementine once said that Winston was the last surviving believer in the divine right of kings.

As Churchill tried to forge an alliance with the United States, Hitler made him the gift of another powerful ally - the Soviet Union. Despite his intense hatred of the Communists, Churchill had no hesitation in sending aid to Russia and defending Stalin in public. "If Hitler invaded Hell," he once remarked, "I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons."

In December 1941, six months after Hitler had invaded Russia, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The war had now become a global one. But with the might of America on the Allied side there could be no doubt about its outcome. Churchill was jubilant, remarking when he heard the news of Pearl Harbor: "So we have won after all!"

However, America's entry into the war also caused Churchill problems; as he said, the only thing worse than fighting a war with allies is fighting a war without them. At first, despite disasters such as the Japanese capture of Singapore early in 1942, Churchill was able to influence the Americans. He persuaded Roosevelt to fight Germany before Japan, and to follow the British strategy of trying to slit open the "soft underbelly" of Europe. This involved the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, and Italy - the last of which proved to have a very well armoured belly.

It soon became apparent that Churchill was the littlest of the "Big Three". At the Teheran Conference in November, 1943, he said, the "poor little English donkey" was squeezed between the great Russian bear and the mighty American buffalo, yet only he knew the way home.

In June 1944 the Allies invaded Normandy and the Americans were clearly in command. General Eisenhower pushed across Northern Europe on a broad front. Germany was crushed between this advance and the Russian steamroller. On May 8, 1945 Britain accepted Germany's surrender and celebrated Victory in Europe Day. Churchill told a huge crowd in Whitehall: "This is your victory." The people shouted: "No, it is yours", and Churchill conducted them in the singing of Land of Hope and Glory. That evening he broadcast to the nation urging the defeat of Japan and paying fulsome homage to the Crown.

From all over the world Churchill received telegrams of congratulations, and he himself was generous with plaudits, writing warmly to General de Gaulle whom he regarded as an awkward ally but a bastion against French Communism. But although victory was widely celebrated throughout Britain, the war in the Far East had a further three months to run. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki finally brought the global conflict to a conclusion. But at the pinnacle of military victory, Churchill tasted the bitterness of political defeat.

The Elder Statesman
Churchill expected to win the election of 1945. Everything pointed to his victory, from the primitive opinion polls to the cartoons in newspapers and the adulation Churchill received during the campaign, but he did not conduct it well. From the start he accused the Labour leaders - his former colleagues - of putting party before country and he later said that Socialists could not rule without a political police, a Gestapo. As it happened, such gaffes probably made no difference. The political tide was running against the Tories and towards the party which wholeheartedly favoured a welfare state - the reward for war-time sacrifices. But Churchill was shocked by the scale of his defeat. When Clementine, who wanted him to retire from politics, said that it was perhaps a blessing in disguise, Churchill replied that the blessing was certainly very effectively disguised. For a time he lapsed into depression, which sympathetic letters from friends did little to dispel.

Soon, however, Churchill re-entered the political arena, taking an active part in political life from the opposition benches and broadcasting again to the nation after the victory over Japan. In defeat Churchill had always been defiant, but in victory he favoured magnanimity. Within a couple of years he was calling for a partnership between a "spiritually great France and a spiritually great Germany" as the basis for the re-creation of "the European family". He was more equivocal about Britain's role in his proposed "United States of Europe", and, while the embers of the World War II were still warm, he announced the start of the Cold War. At Fulton, Missouri, in 1946, he pointed to the new threat posed by the Soviet Union and declared that an iron curtain had descended across Europe. Only by keeping the alliance between the English-speaking peoples strong, he maintained, could Communist tyranny be resisted.

After losing another election in 1950, Churchill gained victory at the polls the following year. Publicly he called for "several years of quiet steady administration". Privately he declared that his policy was "houses, red meat and not getting scuppered". This he achieved. But after suffering a stroke and the failure of his last hope of arranging a Summit with the Russians, he resigned from the premiership in April 1955.

"I am ready to meet my Maker," Churchill had said on his seventy-fifth birthday; "whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter". Churchill remained a member of parliament, though an inactive one, and announced his retirement from politics in 1963. This took effect at the general election the following year. Churchill died on 24 January 1965 - seventy years to the day after the death of his father. He received the greatest state funeral given to a commoner since that of the Duke of Wellington. He was buried in Bladon churchyard beside his parents and within sight of his birthplace, Blenheim Palace.

The Family Man
In the autumn of 1908 Churchill, then a rising Liberal politician, married Clementine Hozier, granddaughter of the 10th Earl of Airlie. Their marriage was to prove a long and happy one, though there were often quarrels - Clementine once threw a dish of spinach at Winston (it missed). Clementine was high principled and highly strung; Winston was stubborn and ambitious. His work invariably came first, though, partly as a reaction against his own upbringing, he was devoted to his children.

Winston and Clementine's first child, Diana, was born in 1909. Diana was a naughty little girl and continued to cause her parents great distress as an adult. In 1932 she married John Bailey, but the marriage was unsuccessful and they divorced in 1935. In that year she married the Conservative politician, Duncan Sandys, and they had three children. That marriage also proved a failure. Diana had several nervous breakdowns and in 1963 she committed suicide.

The Churchills' second child and only son, Randolph, was born in 1911. He was exceptionally handsome and rumbustious, and his father was very ambitious for him. During the 1930s Randolph stood for parliament several times but he failed to get in, being regarded as a political maverick. He did serve as Conservative Member of Parliament for Preston between 1940 and 1945, and ultimately became an extremely successful journalist and began the official biography of his father during the 1960s.

Randolph was married twice, first in 1939 to Pamela Digby (later Harriman) by whom he had a son, Winston, and secondly in 1948 to June Osborne by whom he had a daughter, Arabella. Neither marriage was a success.

The life of Sarah, the Churchills' third child, born in 1914, was no happier than that of her elder siblings. Amateur dramatics at Chartwell led her to take up a career on the stage which flourished for a time. Sarah's charm and vitality were also apparent in her private life, but her first two marriages proved unsuccessful and she was widowed soon after her third. Her first husband was a music hall artist called Vic Oliver whom she married against her parents' wishes. Her second was Anthony Beauchamp but this marriage did not last and after their separation he committed suicide.

In 1918 Clementine Churchill gave birth to a third girl, Marigold. But in 1921, shortly after the deaths of both Clementine's brother and Winston's mother, Marigold contracted septicaemia whilst on a seaside holiday with the childrens' governess. When she died Winston was grief-stricken and, as his last private secretary recently disclosed in an autobiography, Clementine screamed like an animal undergoing torture.

The following September the Churchills' fifth and last child, Mary, was born. Unlike her brother and older sisters, Mary was to cause her parents no major worries. Indeed she was a constant source of support, especially to her mother. In 1947 she married Christopher Soames; who was then Assistant Military Attaché in Paris and later had a successful parliamentary and diplomatic career. Theirs was to be a long and happy marriage. Over the years Christopher became a valued confidant and counsellor to his father-in-law. They had five children, the eldest of whom (Nicholas) became a prominent member of the Conservative party. Christopher Soames died in 1987.

The Private Man
Churchill's enormous reserves of energy and his legendary ability to exist on very little sleep gave him time to pursue a wide variety of interests outside the world of politics.

Churchill loved gambling and lost what was, for him, a small fortune in the great crash of the American stock market in October 1929, causing a severe setback to the family finances. But he continued to write as a means of maintaining the style of life to which he had always been accustomed. Apart from his major works, notably his multi-volume histories of the First and Second World Wars and the Life of his illustrious ancestor John, first Duke of Marlborough, he poured forth speeches and articles for newspapers and magazines. His last big book was the History of the English-Speaking Peoples, which he had begun in 1938 and which was eventually published in the 1950s. In 1953 Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Churchill took up painting as an antidote to the anguish he felt over the Dardanelles disaster. Painting became a constant solace and preoccupation and he rarely spent a few days away from home without taking his canvas and brushes. Even during his tour of France's Maginot Line in the middle of August 1939 Churchill managed to snatch a painting holiday with friends near Dreux.

In the summer of 1922, while on the lookout for a suitable country house, Churchill caught sight of a property near Westerham in Kent, and fell instantly in love with it. Despite Clementine's initial lack of enthusiasm for the dilapidated and neglected house, with its overgrown and seemingly unmanageable grounds, Chartwell was to become a much-loved family home. Clementine, however, never quite overcame her resentment of the fact that Winston had been less than frank with her over the buying of Chartwell, and from time to time her feelings surfaced.

With typical enthusiasm, Churchill personally undertook many major works of construction at Chartwell such as a dam, a swimming pool, the building (largely with his own hands) of a red brick wall to surround the vegetable garden, and the re-tiling of a cottage at the bottom of the garden. In 1946 Churchill bought a farm adjoining Chartwell and subsequently derived much pleasure, though little profit, from farming.

Churchill was born into the world of hunting, shooting and fishing and throughout his life they were to prove spasmodic distractions. But it was hunting and polo, first learned as a young cavalry officer in India, that he enjoyed most of all.

In the summer of 1949, Churchill embarked on a new venture - he bought a racehorse. On the advice of Christopher Soames, he purchased a grey three-year-old colt, Colonist II. It was to be the first of several thoroughbreds in his small stud. They were registered in Lord Randolph's colours - pink with chocolate sleeves and cap. (These have been adopted as the colours of Churchill College.) Churchill was made a member of the Jockey Club in 1950, and greatly relished the distinction.

Among Winston's closest friends were Professor Lindemann and the "the three B's" (none popular with Clementine), Birkenhead, Beaverbook, Bracken. The Churchills entertained widely, including among their guests Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein and Lawrence of Arabia. Churchill regularly holidayed with rich friends in the Mediterranean, spending several cruises in the late 1950s as the guest of Greek millionaire shipowner, Aristotle Onassis.

Biography: Chronological Summary
1874 born, 30 November, eldest son of Rt. Hon. Lord Randolph Churchill, 3rd son of 7th Duke of Marlborough, and Jennie Jerome. 1888-93 attendance at Harrow School 1893-94 Cavalry cadet at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy 1895 death of Lord Randolph Churchill, 24 January 1904 moved from Conservative Party to Liberal Party, 31 May 1907 became Privy Councillor, 1 May 1908 married, 12 September, to Clementine, daughter of Sir Henry Hozier and Lady Blanche (née Ogilvy) 1922 bought Chartwell Manor, Kent 1924 returned to Conservative Party from Liberal Party 1931 Lecture tour in the United States 1940-45 Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister of Defence 1946 "Iron Curtain" Speech, Fulton, Missouri, 5 March 1951-55 Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury 1953 awarded Nobel Prize for Literature 1965 died, 24 January
1895 commissioned, 20 February, as Second Lieutenant, 4th Hussars. Served with Spanish forces in Cuba (1st Class [Spanish] Order of Military Merit) 1897 Malakand Field Force, 31st Punjab Infantry (despatches, medal with clasp) 1898 orderly officer to Sir W. Lockhart with Tirah Expeditionary Force (clasp). Served, attached 21st Lancers with Nile Expeditionary force, present at Battle of Khartoum (medal, with clasp) 1899-1900 acted as correspondent Morning Post South Africa; taken prisoner, but escaped; served as Lieutenant South African Light Horse; present at actions of Acton Homes, Venter's Spruit, Hussar Hill, Cingolo, Monte Cristo, and at battles of Spion Kop, Vaal Krantz, and Pieters, and at engagements of Johannesburg and Diamond Hill, and capture of Pretoria (medal with six clasps). 1900 retired from Regular Army 1901 commissioned as Captain, Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars, Territorial Army 1905 April, Promoted Major, and appointed in command of the Henley Squadron of the Queens' Own Oxfordshire Hussars, Territorial Army 1915-16 served western front with Grenadier Guards; appointed Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding 6th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, France (medals) Sept 1916 transferred to Territorial Reserves of Officers July 1924 Awarded Territorial Decoration, resigned from Territorial Army
1899 contested Oldham (Conservative) 1900-04 M.P. Oldham (Conservative) 1904-06 M.P. Oldham (Liberal) 1906-08 M.P. Manchester N.W. (Liberal) 1908-22 M.P. Dundee (Liberal) 1924-45 M.P. Epping Div. of Essex (Conservative) 1945-64 M.P. Woodford (Conservative)
Dec 1905 - Apr 1908 Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies Apr 1908 - Feb 1910 President of the Board of Trade Feb 1910 - Oct 1911 Home Secretary Oct 1911 - May 1915 First Lord of the Admiralty May 1915 - Nov 1915 Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Jul 1917 - Jan 1919 Minister of Munitions Jan 1919 - Feb 1921 Secretary of State for War (and Air till Apr 1921) Feb 1921 - Oct 1922 Secretary of State for the Colonies Nov 1924 - Jun 1929 Chancellor of the Exchequer Sep 1939 - May 1940 First Lord of the Admiralty May 1940 - Jul 1945 Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister of Defence Jul 1945 - Oct 1951 Leader of the Opposition Oct 1951 - Apr 1955 Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury (also Minister of Defence Oct 1951 - Jan 1952)


2209 archive box(es)

Language of Materials



The papers of Sir Winston Churchill are now commonly known as "the Churchill Papers", but historically the collection has been divided into two distinct groups. The papers dating from before 27 July 1945, when Churchill's first term as Prime Minister ended, are known as the Chartwell Papers (catalogue reference CHAR). The papers dating from after 27 July 1945 (catalogue reference CHUR) are known as the Churchill Papers.

The papers have been divided into 2 groups, the Chartwell Papers and the Churchill Papers (see source of acquisition information). It was very difficult to divide all Churchill's papers at a particular point in time so that there is some chronological overlap between the two groups.

The initial work of arrangement and listing was carried out between 1961 and 1964 by staff of the Public Record Office (PRO).

Chartwell Papers (CHAR) The first stage of the PRO's sorting and arrangement was the distribution of the papers into classes within which researchers could expect to find the documents, or the sort of documents, they needed. The Papers had originally been arranged according to contemporary requirements and the decisions of Churchill's secretaries. Various methods had been employed which were not always carried out logically. The resulting confusion was increased by the removal of papers from place to place.

It was necessary to re-classify the majority of the papers, and this was done by considering the question "as a result of what function or in what capacity did Churchill produce or acquire this paper?" The two main classes which do not reflect this system of arrangement by function are Speeches (CHAR 9) and Acquired Papers (CHAR 28 which Churchill acquired at various times by inheritance or gift).

The defects of the PRO's classification scheme arise mainly from the impossibility of dividing a man's life into watertight functional compartments: a single document often contains material attributable to two or more classes. It was not always a straightforward matter to decide into what class a particular subject fell and some inconsistency inevitably arose in making a series of such decisions over a period.

After the distribution of documents into classes, each class was divided by year into chronological units, each representing the papers for one year, and the units were arranged into files according to their nature and bulk.

Churchill Papers (CHUR) In contrast to the Chartwell papers, the post-war Churchill papers remained largely in the order in which they had been accumulated and used for business. Their arrangement was based on the assessment of complete files (rather than the classification of individual papers).

Though the basic structure of the classes of the post-war Churchill Papers is the same as the arrangement of the Chartwell Trust papers there are important differences in the distinctions between classes and their detailed arrangement. The differences arise from the more orderly arrangement in which the papers had been maintained. For the most part, except for the literary material (CHUR 4), the papers had been placed in file series and were sometimes arranged according to their subjects (such as "political" and "private and personal"). These series were sometimes inconsistent, papers had been transferred between them, and their subject matter overlapped. No attempt was made to split and distribute these series and they have been assigned to the classes to which the majority of their papers belong.

Similarly, the original files were not split or distributed chronologically. The classes often contain groups of files which correspond with the original series and these groups have been chronologically arranged. The files themselves often cover several years and contain earlier material which was brought forward as business recurred. The electronic catalogue includes details of the complete chronological span of the files although the printed catalogue (available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre) gives an indication of the period during which the file was in active use.

Following the death in 2015 of Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill's official biographer, 24 boxes of additional material (CHAQ) were received. As it was impossible to tell what had originally come from CHAR and CHUR, and what had been acquired by Sir Martin from other sources, these papers were kept separately in their own series, but within that divided along similar lines to CHAR and CHUR.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers have been divided into 2 groups. The papers dating from before 27 July 1945 when Churchill's first term as Prime Minister ended are known as the Chartwell Papers (catalogue reference CHAR) and were originally owned by the Chartwell Trust. The papers dating from after 27 July 1945 (catalogue reference CHUR) are known as the Churchill Papers and were given to Churchill College by Lady Churchill in 1969.

In April 1995, grants from the National Heritage Lottery Fund and the John Paul Getty Foundation enabled the Chartwell Papers to be bought from the Chartwell Trust and consolidated the ownership of all the Papers in a charitable trust, the Sir Winston Churchill Archive Trust. The papers will be held in perpetuity at Churchill Archives Centre.

Since 1974 the Papers have been housed at Churchill Archives Centre. The papers were previously held at the house of Churchill's son, Randolph Churchill, at Stour, East Bergholt, Suffolk while he worked on the official biography of his father. When Randolph died in 1968 the Chartwell Papers were transferred to the Bodleian Library, Oxford where Martin Gilbert continued work on the official biography.

A further 24 boxes of additional material (CHAQ) were received from Gilbert's estate from 2015-19.


The staff of the Public Record Office destroyed redundant duplicates, mainly of printed material.

Related Materials

Churchill Archives Centre holds a range of related archive collections. These include the papers of various members of Churchill's family, press photographs, press cuttings, and the Broadwater Collection of Churchill family photographs and albums.

Churchill Archives Centre also has a microfilm copy of Churchill's Prime Ministerial Office papers, 1940-1945 (Public Record Office classes PREM 3 and PREM 4) and holds the papers of several people whose careers were closely linked with Churchill, such as Sir John Colville, Sir George Harvie-Watt, and Sir John Martin. A list of these collections is available at,60


Transcripts of some of the documents in the Chartwell and Churchill Papers have been published in the Official Biography of Sir Winston Churchill's life (and its companion volumes) entitled "Winston S Churchill" by Randolph S Churchill and Martin Gilbert.

Many of Churchill's speeches (found mainly in CHAR 9 and CHUR 5) have been published in "The Complete Speeches of Winston S Churchill" by Robert Rhodes James.

Where possible, the catalogue includes reference citations to these works (both of which are available at Churchill Archives Centre).


The Churchill Papers were catalogued by a team of archivists at Churchill Archives Centre including: Natalie Adams, Sophie Clapp, Alan Kucia, Gavin McGuffie, Allen Packwood, Martin Sanders and Katharine Thomson between 1995 and September 2001. The cataloguing project was supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and overseen by the Sir Winston Churchill Archive Trust. This introduction was prepared by Natalie Adams at Churchill Archives Centre in December 2001. The biographical information about Sir Winston Churchill was edited by Allen Packwood: much of it was originally compiled by Josephine Sykes, Monica Halpin and Victor Brown.

Date information

DateText: The main date range covered by the collection is 1874-1965.


Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer, 1874-1965, Knight, Statesman and Prime Minister

2004-07-07 11:19:05+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
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