Churchill photographic collections

Navigating our many Churchill-related collections can be a bit of a puzzle, especially when it comes to photographs.  Here are a few pointers to set you on your way …


The Broadwater Collection

Probably the best source for Churchill photographs, with dozens of albums of both private images, and also press photographs which the Churchills collected.  Besides photographs of Churchill himself in BRDW I, II and V, there are also some of Clementine, and two large (and rather fragile) albums kept by Churchill’s brother Jack as a young soldier.  A selection of images from this collection are available at Churchill Pictures, though this site is still under development.  A word of warning, though: as with a number of Churchill collections, copyright in Broadwater is held by the Churchill family (and administered by the Curtis Brown literary agency), so using images from this collection could end up being expensive.


The Papers of Clementine Churchill

Fortunately for us, Clementine was a great keeper of family albums.  We have twelve of these in her own papers (in CSCT 5), dating from Clementine’s own childhood to her death in 1977.  As you might expect, they are particularly good on the personal side, especially on family life at Chartwell, but there are also plenty of more official images among them.  There are also ten albums from ‘special occasions’ in CSCT 6, mainly from overseas visits during and shortly after the war when Clementine accompanied her husband, and six further albums of official war photographs in CSCT 7.  Copyright here is owned by Churchill College, so is much less of an issue than in the Broadwater Collection.

Mounted oval sepia portrait photograph of Clementine Churchill, head and shoulders only

Clementine as a young woman, CSCT 5/2/14


Churchill Press Photographs

Another excellent source is this set of 18 boxes of albums of press images covering the whole of Churchill’s career, from his early childhood to his funeral in 1965.  Copyright issues with this one, fortunately, are steadily receding, as the general rule with press photographs is that copyright lasts for 70 years after publication (unless the actual photographer is known, in which case it’s 70 years after their death, but in practice this won’t apply to many cases).


Randolph Churchill, Photographs, 1870 – 1972

Here we have 45 files of photographs which Randolph collected for use in the official biography of his father (RDCH 9/1), many of which were never actually used.   There are also nearly 50 more files from Randolph’s own career in RDCH 9/2-3.  Unfortunately, as with Broadwater, this collection is mainly covered by Churchill family copyright, so image requests have to be referred to the Curtis Brown literary agency.


Mary Soames, Photographs, 1828 – 2011

Like her brother Randolph, Mary amassed a lot of photographs, both originals and later copies, as source material for her various books on the family.  There are about 18 boxes of these in MCHL 6/2, covering the whole of both Churchill’s and Clementine’s lives, as well as a similar number of boxes of family photographs in MCHL 6/1.  Many of these are of Mary herself, in her various official roles as the wife of diplomat and politician Christopher Soames and also as the main Churchill family representative, but there are also personal images of Mary and her brother and sisters, and later of her own family.  Copyright in this collection varies: some images at least come under the copyright of the Soames family, but this does tend to be less tricky than with Broadwater and Randolph Churchill’s papers.

Black and white photo of the back view of Churchill and Mary Churchill walking on the deck of HMS Duke of York

Mary with her father aboard the battleship HMS Duke of York, 1941, MCHL 6/2/3


(Henry Winston) ‘Peregrine’ Churchill, Photographs, 1850 – 1973

Though a lot smaller than his cousins’ archives, there are some excellent family photographs in papers of Churchill’s nephew Peregrine.  There are a number of family albums and files of collected photographs, featuring not just Peregrine, his parents Jack and ‘Goonie’ and his brother Johnny and sister Clarissa (later married to Anthony Eden), but also some rare original images of Lady Randolph Churchill and Peregrine’s uncle Winston.  Copyright here is variable, again, but should be less of an issue than with Broadwater etc.

Sepia photo of Churchill and Clementine lying on the grass while their baby Randolph crawls towards them

Churchill and Clementine with Randolph as a baby, c 1912, PCHL 8/7


Churchill Additional, Photographs and drawings, 1874 – 1997

As this collection consists of material which has come in from many different sources, there is no particular theme here, just a lot of very disparate items.  However, amongst these you will find small gems like photographs of Graham Sutherland’s studies for his ill-starred portrait of Churchill, a superb set of images by the famous photographer Toni Frissell and a set of original cartoons featuring Churchill throughout his career, from the magazine Punch.


Oscar Nemon, Reference material, 1894 – 1985

By way of something different, we also hold a small but interesting archive from the sculptor Oscar Nemon, who created a number of famous statues of Churchill which can now be found all over the world.  Besides many photographs of the statues themselves, with Nemon at work, he also collected some good images as reference material to work from (many of them now complete with clayey fingerprints).  As these are mainly press images, the same general rule of copyright lasting 70 years after publication will mostly apply.


Katharine Thomson, Archivist, January 2024