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My refuge, Emma Soames, 72, in the sitting room of her West London home

My Refuge, Emma Soames: The Writer and Granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill, 72, in the Living Room of Her West London Home

  • Emma Soames, 72, shares important artifacts in her West London home
  • Writer cherishes photo with her grandfather Sir Winston Churchill, taken in 1952
  • Also cherishes a Christmas tree decoration from her friend, Anna Wintour


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Emma Soames, 72, (pictured) shared items of personal significance in the sitting room of her West London home

1 JOCK OF AGES

I cherish this drawing of one of my grandfather Winston Churchill’s cats. It belongs to William Nicholson who gave him art lessons in Chartwell, my grandparents’ Kent country house, in the 1930s. He loved animals.

There was always a marmalade cat named Jock in Chartwell, along with a budgerigar and a crabby poodle. When the National Trust acquired the house, the Churchill family determined that there should always be a ‘Jock’ in residence. The current resident is Jock VII.

2 POSTER GIRL

Mary, my mother, hated having this portrait painted by Neville Lewis when she was four. He said she was the most stubborn child he’d met.

She started writing a diary in 1939 at the age of 16, shortly before her father became Prime Minister, recording what it was like to be a young woman in wartime. She was in the Auxiliary Territorial Service and twice served as Churchill’s aide.

3 BEST HOUR

My grandfather loved babies, as you can see from this photo of me on his lap, aged three, in 1952. The photo was taken at Chartwell Farm, where I was born, next to his home.

I saw a lot of him, although I thought of him as a grandfather rather than the greatest Englishman alive. That came later. He was not an active grandfather, although he enjoyed having me and my siblings play at his feet.

Emma cherishes this Christmas tree decoration from her friend Anna Wintour

4 A MODEL GENTLEMAN

I’ve always liked this Spode Toby jug from my grandfather – I think it reflects his tenacious personality. Chartwell’s charming matchstick model, sitting next to it, was given to him.

He was the heart of the house, even when he was old and frail. Everything revolved around him and his happiness. He loved Chartwell and bought it without telling my grandmother Clementine, which was naughty.

He built many of the walls in the garden and designed waterworks for the goldfish pond. I loved watching him feed the goldfish.

5 BOOM CHIC, ANNA!

I’ve been friends with Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue in the US for decades. This Christmas tree decoration of hers is perfect. We met when we were in our twenties when we were both fashion assistants at magazines.

She is my role model: the most powerful woman in fashion. She is also a loyal friend and very nice. She’s earned her terrifying reputation for being so focused, but she doesn’t let her friends down.

6 HOME SWEET HOMES

When my father, Christopher, was appointed Ambassador to France in 1968, we moved to the British Embassy in Paris. The French loved my mother because she was Churchill’s daughter, and my father charmed President de Gaulle.

The French fashion houses fell over themselves to dress me, but I just wanted to wear Biba. The French, usually dressed in Givenchy, thought it was terribly cute. I bought these porcelain houses [right] at Biba a Christmas for my mother. She loved them, although they were more my taste than hers.

As told to Angela Wintle. Emma’s new book, Mary Churchill’s War: The Wartime Diaries Of Churchill’s Youngest Daughter, is out now (Two Roads, £20).

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