Historic images newly colourised to show Sir Winston Churchill’s birthday cakes at Chartwell

Crowds gather to see a model of cake for Sir Winston Churchill's 80th birthday in 1954 Credit: TopFoto colourised for National Trust Chartwell by Tom Marshall at PhotograFix

National Trust Chartwell is set to open a new outdoor photography display this weekend, revealing Sir Winston Churchill’s birthday cakes.

The historic images have been colourised for the first time to show the baking creations and the 'frenzy' that surrounded them.

The exhibit celebrates Churchill's 150th birthday year, unveiling the creative bakes he received throughout his lifetime.

Each cake had been designed to showcase his career, achievements and interests in sponge and icing.  

From the late-1950s, interest had grown so much for his cakes that there was a special photo opportunity for press to take snaps of the cakes at the bakery, before they were dispatched ready for the big day.  

Churchill's birthday cake arrives at No10 Downing Street, 1951 Credit: TopFoto colourised for National Trust by Tom Marshall at PhotograFix

Katherine Carter, Chartwell’s Curator, said: “Our new display shows the wonderful array of cakes inspired by Churchill's interests and achievements.

"They were a forerunner to our love of extravagant and themed bakes today.”     

“Colourised photographs are a wonderful way to bring the past to life for audiences of all ages.

"It’s quite rare to see images from Churchill’s life and career in colour, especially those that record more personal, light-hearted moments.

"The theme of this display is fun and playful, and we wanted to reflect this by giving our visitors a true sense of the occasion through the colours of the bakes and celebrations they inspired.  

“In vivid colour, they are a fascinating portal to lesser-known moments of social history, bringing out details of the cakes and people involved in a new way.” 

Maria Floris became well known after the creations she made for Churchill and was the preferred baker of the Royal Family and high society.

Maria Floris with the 80th birthday cake she designed for Churchill, 1954 Credit: TopFoto colourised for National Trust Chartwell by Tom Marshall at PhotograFix

The cake designed by her weighed more than 100lbs and was decorated with 80 candles.

It was so large that the width of the doors of 10 Downing Street had to be checked to make sure it could go through.

On the same day, 30 November 1954, a huge model cake was paraded on the roof of a car in front of crowds gathered to welcome Churchill on his return from the State Opening of Parliament.   

Many of his cakes paid homage to Churchill’s love of nature and animals, with butterflies, cats and his chocolate-coloured poodle all recreated in cake form.    

Tom Marshall, who colourised the photographs for the National Trust, said: "The process is carried out digitally, using Adobe Photoshop, and each photo took between two and four hours to complete, painting digital colour layers over the monochrome photos.  

"The shades of grey in the original photo determine how dark each colour should be, but not the colour itself, so the process is a combination of research and artistic license.   

“When researching this project, I watched a lot of archive news footage, as most of Sir Winston Churchill’s birthdays were well documented in the newsreels of the day.  

"While these newsreels were in black and white, they did give me more angles of the cake decorations to work with and showed some details and context not initially obvious when viewing the black and white photos.” 

There will also be themed displays at Chartwell House, showcasing some of the gifts given to Churchill from friends, family and well-wishers from all over the world. 

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