Days OutHistory

Churchill in Punch: A Cartoon Biography comes to Chartwell, Kent

A Cartoon Biography at Chartwell explores how the image of Churchill was used repeatedly by cartoonists to celebrate, poke fun at, and make comment on, his life events. This display showcases the life and legacy of Britain’s most recognisable political figure through the satirical eye of Punch magazine.

Punch was a weekly magazine that provided its viewership with humorous social and political commentary. Founded by journalist Henry Mayhew and wood-engraver Ebenezer Landells in 1841, the magazine became renowned for its use of entertaining cartoons and sophisticated wit. E.H Shepard, Richard Doyle, and Alfred Bestall are among a raft of well-known artists whose work appeared in print.

Winston Churchill, distinctive in stature, permanently smoking a cigar and giving the V-for-Victory sign, continues to be a familiar image. Few political figures have enjoyed such an enduring legacy of achievement and recognition. Born in 1874, Churchill lived through an
age of great cultural change and is a figure deeply embedded in the twentieth century political narrative.

Winston featured in over 600 cartoons published by Punch magazine in his lifetime and beyond. The exhibition is a selection chosen to showcase the breadth of topic and time where cartoonists were inspired by Winston. Learn more about his life through depictions of him as a cherub, a man of many hats, a winged bulldog, and Winnie the Pooh.

The exhibition has been co-curated by Katherine Carter, Chartwell Property Curator and Gary Stiles, author of Churchill in Punch, in partnership with TopFoto. Katherine Carter, Property Curator for Chartwell describes one of her favourite cartoons: ‘A Hornet’s Nest shows Churchill drawn as Winnie the Pooh in response to his role in the abdication crisis. By taking a controversial stance on the matter, many felt he had made the situation worse and began to attack him as a result. It’s such a simple drawing and yet so apt for the moment in time which it represents.’

She added: ‘curating this exhibition has shown me just how much Winston Churchill consciously cultivated his image with caricaturists in mind and revelled in the elements of his appearance which he knew cartoonists would likely pick up on. The fact that he bought a number of the original drawings, including ones we still have in Chartwell’s collection, highlights how much he enjoyed being depicted on the pages of Punch, and in turn how important he knew it was, for his political career, to be featured within its pages.’

The Winter Exhibition runs from Saturday 14 January until Sunday 5 March 2023. The grounds at Chartwell are open daily 10am-4pm.

Enjoy a winter walk around the gardens and wider estate when you come to see Churchill in Punch.

Previous post

The Stables by Mark Charker - Fine dining at The Bell in Ticehurst

Next post

Plan your big day at Salomons Estate’s Wedding Showcase