Seen on the Green - Sir Winston Churchill

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is an area centric biography on Sir Winston Churchill, one of many famous people to come from Chingford, North-East London. This article was originally published in The Chingford Directory inSeptember 2011.

Submitted: October 23, 2015

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Submitted: October 23, 2015




Seen on the Green

Famous Faces From Chingford

by Thom Goddard


This Month: Sir Winston Churchill


According to the Waltham Forest Library Service there are over 9,000 books on Sir Winston Churchill so it is difficult to find anything new about which to write. The man needs no introduction and his association with Chingford can be seen throughout the area. The famous profile features on the Assembly Hall mural and the local academy is named after him as are local streets, businesses and the medical centre. But... did Winston Churchill ever actually come to Chingford to be met in the mount or seen on the green?


Sir Winston Churchill’s association with our area began when T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia) moved to Chingford in 1918. Churchill wrote many letters to Lawrence as they worked together after the First World War but Winston never accepted any of the 3 invitations to come and stay in Lawrence’s house on Pole Hill. According to the Churchill Archives, Winston’s first visit came after he became MP for the constituency of Epping in 1924. At the time the Epping seat encompassed a vast area including Chingford, Woodford Green and Harlow. It was not a happy beginning either. In 1926 Churchill gave a speech outside the Queen Elizabeth hunting lodge where he said: "either the country will break the General Strike, or the General Strike will break the country"*. Whilst traveling from Chingford to Westminster his car was spotted on Walthamstow High Street, attacked, over-turned and the great man barely escaped with his life. 


In 1929 the Conservative Government, of which Churchill was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, lost power. Winston was cast into political isolation. During this time Churchill became the voice of opposition against Neville Chamberlain’s policy for appeasing Adolf Hitler. This foresight would lead Winston Churchill back to power as Prime Minister in 1940 and it all began in Chingford.


Winston Churchill’s passion for oration and speeches is legendary and some of those were written in Chingford. On 25th October 1936 he gave a speech at the Royal Forest Hotel on security in Europe, warning the Government that military build-up could only lead to war with Hitler and Germany. On 23rd May 1938 at the Royal Forest Hotel, Churchill made clear that giving the Sudetenland to Germany from Czechoslovakia would “dot the ‘i’ in the inevitability of war”*. These speeches were presented for the first time to Chingford residents and then used by Churchill across the country in his opposition to appeasement. Of course he thanked the residents on both nights by paying the bar tab of £9 9s and £8 6s respectively. 


There are no recorded visits made by Winston Churchill to Chingford during the Second World War but his involvement didn’t end there. On 5th September 1940 he wrote to Sir James Hawkey about “The Chingford War Weapon”, something that is still a mystery today. On 4th July 1945 he finished his General Election campaign at Walthamstow Dog Track as 20,000 people came to see “the man who delivered victory”. So Chingford may not have been Sir Winston Churchill’s home or sanctuary but it did play a significant role in his political life. Hopefully it still does for anyone you meet in the Mount or have seen on the Green!


If you spot anyone contact:

© Copyright 2019 Thom Goddard. All rights reserved.

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