This painting by Sir Winston Churchill is a remembrance of one of his dearest friends and most loyal supporters Lord Camrose (1859-1974) who was an immensely wealthy and successful newspaper proprietor. He owned The Daily Telegraph which in the 1930s before the Second World War was one of those national papers calling for Churchill's return to government, and for which in particular Churchill wrote a number of powerful articles warning of the dangers facing the British nation from the already rampant Nazis.
Lord Camrose had a large family, four boys and four girls, and in 1935 bought Hackwood Park in Hampshire which had been let for many years, latterly, to Lord Curzon until his death. Camrose set out to restore and refurbish the house, where his family could all live, and where not least he could entertain in an atmosphere of privacy and tranquility away from the hurly-burly of London and Parliament, his many important and influential friends - including Sir Winston Churchill.
Hackwood House is a very grand mansion originally dating from the 1670s but substantially altered to its present classical elegance in the early years of the 19th century. Hackwood's landscaped pleasure gardens are of historical importance and have as their principal feature Spring Wood, which comprises some 79 acres of ornamental woodland based on a design dating from the 18th century. Spring Wood is pierced by many enticing walks and avenues - including Cathedral Avenue, which stretches for more more than 250 yards, and it is typical of Churchill that he should choose to paint such a challenging subject, although he did love shadows.
During the Second World War Lord Camrose gave Hackwood House over to The Royal Canadian Army as a hospital, many thousands of its troops being treated there in rows of temporary buildings. Camrose was close with Churchill throughout the war and in 1945 was his companion when, after Victory was declared, huge and excited crowds called for the Prime Minister to appear, which he eventually did on a Balcony in Whitehall receiving a tumultuous reception. 'My dear friends' Churchill said to the multitude in front of him, 'this is your hour. This is not a victory of a party or of any class. It's a victory of the great British nation as a whole ... a terrible foe has been cast on the ground and awaits our judgement and mercy.' Afterwards, the two friends Churchill and Camrose, returned to the Prime Minister's relatively safe underground war time offices, The Annexe, where they dined together in private.
Following the end of the War there was a general election which Churchill lost and so was out of power once again. He was also very short of money, not an unusual circumstance for him, as he lived in considerable style and relied for most of his income on what he earned by his pen. Churchill decided he would have to sell Chartwell, his beloved country house in Kent.
Knowing how much Chartwell meantto Churchill, Lord Camrose was astonished by this decision and instead suggested that he privately gather a group of his friends to purchase the property, so that Churchill could live there for the rest of his life; after which Chartwell would pass to the National Trust as a memorial. Lord Camrose also undertook to raise sufficient funds as an endowment to ensure Chartwell's future maintenance: both these ideas being successfully accomplished.
In 1956, Churchill unveiled a memorial to Lord Camrose in St. Paul's Cathedral. 'In dark and uncertain times,' Churchill spoke of his friend, 'no man could be more steady and persevering ... to his friends and the causes in which he believed he was steadfastly loyal.'
We are very grateful to David Coombs for preparing this catalogue entry.