1. ITV Report

Winston Churchill's family heirlooms go on show

A new exhibition of objects belonging to the ancestors of Sir Winston Churchill are being shown at his former country home.

In The Blood is being held at Chartwell in Kent and tells the story of the former wartime prime minister's Anglo-American ancestry. The display of 50 objects, which have never been on show before, are from the Chartwell stores and on loan from private collections belonging to Churchill's descendants, the National Trust said.

Among them are a pair of duelling pistols and Garter Star belonging to Churchill's 17th century ancestor John, 1st Duke of Marlborough, builder of Blenheim Palace.

Duelling pistols, Garter Star and chain mail purse belonging to John, 1st Duke of Marlborough. Credit: Tim Stubbings/National Trust

Diamond, ruby and sapphire rings have been reunited especially for the exhibition, which opens today. Locks of children's hair taken from Churchill and his brother Jack, a photo of their nanny and Churchill's silver christening cup are also on display. Half of the objects have never been on public display before and have been brought together especially for the exhibition.

Randolph Churchill with a pair of duelling pistols belonging to Churchill’s 17th century ancestor John, 1st Duke of Marlborough. Credit: Tim Stubbings/National Trust

This exhibition shines a light on Winston's parents and his forefathers who were so important in giving him the backbone he had in the dark days of 1940. Indeed he later wrote of that time, 'I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial'.

– Randolph Churchill, Winston's great-grandson

Lady Churchill handed Chartwell to the National Trust in 1965 and hundreds of personal family items were put into store.

In The Blood and future temporary exhibitions are designed to ensure the public sees as much of the collection as possible, the Trust said. Historian Professor Sir David Cannadine said: "It is a timely innovation at Chartwell to begin holding and hosting exhibitions which help us to understand more fully the extraordinary range and richness of Churchill's life."

John and Alice Churchill (Winston's great great-grandchildren) seated with oil portraits of Leonard Jerome and Clarissa Jerome Credit: Tim Stubbings/National Trust

Alice Martin, house and collections manager at Chartwell and curator of In The Blood, said: "I am personally very excited to see the fantastic oil paintings of Sir Winston's grandparents and the beautiful engagement rings back together for perhaps the first time in over 100 years."

Diamond, ruby and sapphire rings given by Winston Churchill’s father to his mother. Credit: Tim Stubbings/National Trust/

The exhibition is open from 11am to 4pm every day except on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day until the end of February.