Images of a young Winston Churchill, considered to be the oldest original photos of the formidable leader, have been uncovered and will be sold at auction later this year.
A photographic company tasked with digitising the catalogue of images in a private collection have uncovered what are thought to be the earliest original photos of Britain’s wartime prime minister, Winston Churchill.
The images, part of the Hills and Saunders Harrow Collection, were found in poor condition in a dairy farm outside Cirencester in 2012 and it was during the subsequent restoration work that Lizzie Davies, Save Photo’s archivist, discovered seven plated images of a young Winston Churchill.
Between 1860 and 1970, Hills and Saunders, photographers by Royal Appointment, captured memorable moments of Harrow schoolboys and their families on camera and this collection of over 90,000 glass plate negatives is possibly the largest surviving archive of its kind in the world.
The photos of Churchill show the prime minister to be as a schoolboy between the ages of 13 and 17 when he attended Harrow School as part of The Head Master’s House between 1889 and 1892. Although he did not excel at school, Churchill’s official biographer Sir Martin Gilbert told of Churchill’s attitude to his schooling in his book Churchill: A Life when he wrote: “When, at the height of the Blitz in 1940, Randolph accompanied his father to Harrow for the annual school songs, Churchill told him, ‘Listening to those boys singing all those well-remembered songs I could see myself 50 years before singing those tales of great deeds and of great men and wondering how I could ever do something glorious for my country.'”
Peter Boswell, managing director of Save Photo said: “Save Photo Limited has been very privileged to work with such a unique collection of historical significance. Our team have been working on an intensive programme of conservation and archiving. We have been lovingly inspecting each photographic plate to ensure it is carefully cleaned, recorded and stored in high quality archival sleeves. With the First World War centenary events beginning this year, I am delighted that we have been able to add these amazing lost images to the portfolio of known Churchill images.”
The Winston Churchill photos will be offered for sale at auction later this year.
Look out for our Great Briton article on Winston Churchill in the March/April issue of BRITAIN (volume 82, issue 2).
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