In 1946 on March 5, Winston Churchill coined the phrase “Iron Curtain”.
Well, we’re not gonna’ talk about that. Winston had a wife, we’re talking about her!
Clementine Hozier was “legally” the daughter of Henry Montague Hozier and his trampy cheatin’ ho of a wife, “Lady” Blanche Ogilvy.
“Lady” Blanche, like “Lady” Warwick, was well known as the town slut for her infidelity.
After Sir Henry caught “Lady” Blanche in the act with one of her lovers in 1891, things got a little dicey. But, since he was cheatin’ bastard himself, Blanche was able to avoid a nasty divorce.
They decided living together ‘…just wasn’t for them…”
Clementine’s mother maintained that the real baby daddy was Capt. William George Middleton, whom everyone called Bay.
Seriously, Bay. So way ahead of their time!
Family dogma insists that Bay was the daddy, but Joan Hardwick, Clemie’s biographer believes that since Sir Henry was most likely sterile, that all the Hozier kids were fathered by “Lady”Blanche’s sister’s husband, Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron Redesdale, who was banging Blanche like a drum!
Seriously, the girl got around!!
Nevertheless, her certificate of birth lists her father as Sir Henry, and he got stuck with the bills.
When Clementine was 14, in 1899, mumsy moved the kids to Dieppe in France where the family spent the summer bathing, canoeing, picnicking, berry picking, and hanging out with the likes of Aubrey Beardsley and Walter Sickert. Times were simpler.
They left abruptly when the eldest daughter, Kitty came down with typhoid. Blanche sent Clementine and Nellie to Scotland while she nursed Kitty.
Kitty didn’t pull through.
Clementine was deeply impacted by the death of her sister. Educated at home and then at a private school in Scotland and finally the Sorbonne, Clementine was no slacker. She was bright, pretty, well-connected, and quite the catch.
She was engaged twice (secretly) by the age of 18. Sadly for him, the Clementine wasn’t in love with the guy she was going to marry, and seeing what her parent’s marriage had come to, she decided to call it off – both times!
Winston was acquainted with Clementine and they had met early on. But they didn’t spend any time together until he saw her again at a dinner party in 1908. He was hot to trot on the spot, she was all Katy Winters – cool, calm, and collected.
He realized she was a woman of intelligence and character as well as one of beauty and distinction – his words.
The future Prime Minister of England wrote a letter to her mother asking for her hand in marriage.
|“||My dear Lady Blanche Hozier,
Clementine will be my ambassador today. I have asked her to marry me & we both ask you to give your consent & your blessing. You have known my family for so many years that there is no need to say very much in this letter. I am not rich nor powerfully established, but your daughter loves me & with that love I feel strong enough to assume this great & sacred responsibility; & I think I can make her happy & give her a station & career worthy of her beauty and her virtues.Marlborough is very much in hopes that you will be able to come down here today & he is telegraphing to you this morning. That would indeed be very charming & I am sure Clementine will persuade you.With sincere affection
Winston S. Churchill
Again, what is it with the English and those ampersands?
They were married at St. Margaret’s on 9/12/1908. Winston was more than ten years older and already deeply entrenched in politics.
Between 1909 and 1922, the couple had five children. According to most accounts, the marriage was close and affectionate.
During this time, when Winston’s career was kicking into high-gear, Alice Keppel, mistress of King Edward VII and great-great grandmother to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, advised Clementine to take a wealthy and powerful lover to help her husband’s career. When Clementine demurred on the grounds of morality, Mrs. Keppel declared she was “…positively selfish.”
During The Great War, Clementine worked for the YMCA to organize canteens for munitions workers. His Majesty appointed her as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her efforts.
Truly a woman of her time, she was a solid pillar of support for Winston. Ignoring most snubs from the wives of opposing politicians was the norm for Clementine, but there were times when she could only take so much.
While traveling with Lord Moyne and some guests, the group was listening to a BBC broadcast. The speaker criticized Winston by name. A traveling companion, Lady Broughton, said, “…hear, hear…” Clementine hoping her host would call Lady B out, was disappointed; she stomped back to her cabin, packed her bags, left a note and headed home.
When WW II came, she was behind her husband again. Clementine worked for the Red Cross, the YWCA, and was the Chair of the Fulmer Chase Maternity Hospital for Wives of Junior Officers.
When Sir Winston Churchill died on January 24, 1965, Clementine found herself a widow after 56 years of marriage.
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, created Clementine a “life peer” as Baroness Spencer-Churchill of Chartwellin. She sat in parliament, but her increasing deafness kept her from regular attendance.
Her later years, though filled with honor and grandchildren, were also clouded with financial problems. Luckily, Sir Winston was a painter, and Lady Spencer-Churchill sold five of his paintings at auction for a pile of cash enabling her to stay above water for the rest of her life.
She died in 1977 at the age of 92.
She had outlived her husband by 13 years and had survived three of her five children.
Though she’s remembered as a brave woman who supported her husband, supported the war effort, and loved her nation, she was always happiest as Winston’s Darling Clementine.