Sir Winston Churchill and Chartwell

Winston Churchill and Percy Cox at Chartwell
Percy Cox OBE wearing a flat cap, standing behind Sir Winston Churchill at Chartwell, image from the Percy Cox Archive

Sir Winston Spencer Churchill bought Chartwell in 1922. It was to be home to the Churchill family over the next forty-three years. Toovey’s paper collectables specialist, Nicholas Toovey, has uncovered a small archive of photographs, letters, telegrams and notes, which document the Churchills’ relationship with their friend and estates manager, Percy Cox, OBE. The correspondence and images give a very personal insight into life at Chartwell. The Percy Cox Archive is to be auctioned in November at Toovey’s.

View from Chartwell
The view from Chartwell looking south over the gentle landscape of the Weald of Kent

Churchill’s youngest child, Lady Mary Soames, has written that her father was “captivated by Chartwell from the moment he set eyes on the valley, protected by the sheltering arm of beautiful beech woods… and by the house on the hillside”. As you stand on the terrace at Chartwell, you are presented with a southerly view over the gentle landscape of the Weald of Kent; it speaks of an older England. Unsurprising, then, that this scene so inspired our greatest war-time Prime Minister. Whenever the English find themselves under threat, they turn to their monarch, their church and their landscape; our nation’s identity is bound together by these timeless threads.

An hour from London, Chartwell between the wars hosted a cast which included politicians, scientists and intellectuals. Among these were Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Camrose, the powerful proprietors of The Daily Express and The Daily Telegraph, and T.E. Lawrence and Charlie Chaplin. Famously, debates after dinner would continue into the early hours.

Churchill’s fortune from writing was severely affected by the financial crash of 1929, which signalled the arrival of the Great Depression. Life at Chartwell was always accompanied by financial worries and these coloured Churchill’s wife, Clementine’s view of their country home. By 1946 there were concerns as to whether the Churchills would be able to continue living at Chartwell.

Winston Churchill always felt his roots were at Blenheim, where he was born in 1874. Blenheim had been given to John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, by Queen Anne and a grateful nation after his victory at Blenheim in 1704. Lord Camrose felt it wrong that Winston Churchill, the great war-time leader, could lose his home. With resonances of the gift of Blenheim, he and a group of wealthy men anonymously purchased Chartwell, on the express understanding that the Churchills would continue living there undisturbed until the end of their days, after which it would be given to the National Trust.

Churchill was always influenced by the long shadow of history, mindful to heed the warnings the past offers to the present. Much of Churchill’s writing was historical. He employed researchers like Maurice Ashley and William Deakin and would draw on their notes. Whether preparing a manuscript for a book or a speech, he liked to work standing and to dictate, cigar in hand, as he paced the room, often late into the night. Once these notes were typed, he would engage in painstaking revision. His method of working gifts his writing with the immediacy of the spoken word and displays irony, rhetoric and an honest passion.

Churchill English-Speaking Peoples
Percy Cox’s set of Winston Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking Peoples

Secure in his beloved Chartwell, he continued to write, working on his multi-volume war memoirs and his four-volume A History of The English-Speaking Peoples. The Percy Cox Archive also includes a first edition set of A History of The English-Speaking Peoples, published between 1956 and 1958, which has presentation inscriptions to Percy Cox. The worldwide syndication of these works made Winston Churchill a very wealthy man and all concerns about money vanished. Along with numerous acts of quiet generosity, it enabled Churchill to buy Chartwell Farm and a number of neighbouring farms. Nicholas Toovey comments, “The Percy Cox Archive relates to this post-war period and illustrates the fondness and respect in which the family held him. In particular, it casts light upon Mr Cox’s relationship with Winston and Clementine Churchill and their daughter Mary. Letters relating to the management of Churchill’s estates and invitations to dine at Chartwell and to attend Mary’s wedding with Lord Soames, together with photographs of Churchill and others, provide a very personal and poignant insight into their lives.”

The Percy Cox Archive contains some fifty items and is estimated to realise between £6000 and £8000. It will be auctioned at Toovey’s as part of our specialist sale of Paper Collectables on 5th November 2013. For more information, visit www.toovey’ or telephone 01903 891955.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 30th October 2013 in the West Sussex Gazette.

The Dalek is coming…

2D Adventures Daleks
Dalek artwork circa 1960 from the exhibition

Excitement is building amongst Whovians as the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who approaches. Fans of Doctor Who will know that in the stories it was the evil Davros who created the deadly Dalek race. However, it was in fact the writer, Terry Nation, who dreamt up the Daleks. But few will be aware that the man who gave the Daleks form was prop-designer and artist Raymond Cusick. Raymond Cusick lived in Horsham securing the town a place in the Doctor Who story. This important connection is being marked by an exhibition at the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery of Doctor Who memorabilia including a Dalek! The exhibition, ‘2D Adventures in Time and Space: An Unofficial Doctor Who Exhibition’, is the perfect half-term treat, entry is free and it runs until 1st January 2014.

We all know what a Dalek is but what sort of Doctor Who creature is a Whovian? In recent years a teenage generation have grouped themselves into fandoms. So if you can’t resist Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes you are a Sherlockian. But if the debate in your household is whether you are most looking forward to seeing Matt Smith, David Tennant or John Hurt as the Doctor, in the 50th Anniversary Special to be screened on 23rd November, then you are Whovians.

The exhibition is the inspiration of Horsham Museum Curator Jason Semmens who has been a fan of the show since he was three years old. “Doctor Who was the hero of a range of cartoon strips published in various comics and annuals from the mid-1960s onwards” Jason explains, “The artwork for the comics are much larger than the comic books and have real visual impact.” I ask him what his particular favourites are, he responds “The TV21 magazine Dalek cartoon strip from the 1960s is vibrant and fun and the weekly cartoon strips from 1980 with Tom Baker in them are also really good.”

For me the highlight of the exhibition is the Dalek shown here with Horsham District Council’s Head of Museums and Heritage, Jeremy Knight and Whovian, Emma Toovey. I still find them menacing. An episode of Doctor Who is guaranteed to make me jump out of my skin in fright. Laughing Emma says “You’re as frightening as the Doctor Who monsters when you do that Dad!” She has a point.

Jason Semmens’ favourite Doctors are Tom Baker and the earlier Patrick Troughton. Each generation will have their favourite Doctor but what unites us is our delight in the stories and our shared experience of hiding behind the sofa. For me the latest batch of Doctors have been exceptional with the alien quality of Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant’s emotion, passion and energy and Matt Smith’s compassion, courage, determination and humour, not to mention his Harris Tweed jacket and catch phrase “bowties are cool”, I could not agree with him more.

You don’t need a Tardis to travel back in time just a trip to the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery as witnessed by Emma Toovey and K9 transported back to late Victorian Horsham’s P. Williams & Co pharmacy from West Street.

Many of us now come from generations where our shared memories are often caught up with TV and Film. The ‘2D Adventures in Time and Space: An Unofficial Doctor Who Exhibition’ captures something of our own childhood stories brilliantly. Toys also reflect childhood memories. For example, model railways speak to a generation whose childhoods were defined by a passion for steam engines and an ambition to drive them. For the TV and Film generation toys as iconic as a James Bond 007 Corgi Aston Martin DB5, or a Corgi Batmobile, capture their imaginations in a similar way. Indeed Toovey’s toy sales are a boom market!

The Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, according to published information, is the third most visited heritage attraction in Sussex. This is an extraordinary achievement which speaks of the importance all of us place on our common history and heritage. The economic impact of these visitors is profoundly important to Horsham and the broader Horsham District’s businesses and economy. Councillors like Jonathan Chowen understand this. Thanks to them The Horsham District Council continues its important involvement in supporting the museum, the hard work and dedication of its Curator, Jason Semmens and Head of Museums and Heritage, Jeremy Knight. All involved deserve to be applauded.

Be transported back in time this half term at the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery and delight in ‘2D Adventures in Time and Space: An Unofficial Doctor Who Exhibition’. Don’t miss that marvellous Dalek – entry is free! For more information go to or telephone the museum on 01403 254959.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 23rd October 2013 in the West Sussex Gazette.

Randy Klein Exhibition ‘Moment to Moment’

Artist Randy Klein with a section of ‘Moment to Moment’
Artist Randy Klein with a section of ‘Moment to Moment’

The UK-based American artist Randy Klein’s work is bound up with storytelling. His exhibition ‘Moment to Moment’, currently on display at Chichester Cathedral, brings together one hundred sculptures, which together form a single work by uniting snapshots of a human life.

Randy Klein says, “I wanted to capture the feeling of an animation with each single frame of a human journey depicted by a sculpture.” When you first approach the work ‘Moment to Moment’, you are initially struck by the fragmentary nature of the individual pieces but gradually you are drawn to the beginning and from there the story of a human life reveals itself. “It begins in childhood and moves through the discovery of the outside world, adulthood, marriage, children,” Randy explains, “but they are individual moments joined together.” These are precious moments common to many of our individual lives.

Randy Klein works in a variety of media, including sculpture, painting, graphics and artists’ books. His limited edition books are represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate and the Victoria and Albert Museum and he has work in other public and private collections in Europe and the USA.

Dance by Randy Klein
'Dance' by Randy Klein

The importance of the interactive relationship between artist and viewer is acknowledged by Randy. From time to time he has visited Chichester Cathedral. “I stand back and listen to wonderful people responding to my work,” he says. The insights displayed in this show have required a great deal of reflection and thought over the last two and half years.

The work invites us to look back over our lives and relive those moments which have formed us as people. Among these moments, both our joys and our sorrows are recorded with a lyrical, almost musical ebb and flow, like the rise and fall of notes written on a score. I ask Randy about these qualities in his work and he responds enthusiastically, “There is a section in ‘Moment to Moment’ that I call ‘through all kinds of weather’, which is a metaphor for the trials and tribulations of life. Music in spirituality and in the church is very important to me. I always have music playing as I work in my studio.” The sense of movement in this work is captured by ‘Dance’, illustrated here. The procession ends with an invitation to look through a window and go through a door representing a life beyond this mortal journey, which Randy refers to as “looking beyond the trappings of daily life to our epiphany”.

The figures and objects have been forged from copper and steel and Randy has drawn on them in weld, which gives a three-dimensional quality. Many have been patinated to give the effect of bronze.

'Rest' by Randy Klein

Randy Klein has been drawn to exhibit in cathedrals across the UK. “Cathedrals give you that wonderful space in your mind,” he explains. “When you walk in, you leave behind your daily cares and it opens the mind and makes you receptive… to the transcendent and transformational.”

This exhibition has toured Italy and the UK and I ask what Randy is most looking forward to next; he replies, “Getting back into my studio and creating.” Each of us is called to a vocation in life and, whether that is something expressed in the human journey, as Randy sets out for us in this exhibition, or in his own case creating art, there is no peace without answering that calling.

Individual sculptures from ‘Moment to Moment’, this extraordinary tale of a human person, are for sale. As a Christian, I observe how work is part of God’s purpose, bound up with the very fabric of creation. When we work generously and in relationship, it blesses us. It is right, therefore, that we celebrate the beauty in Randy Klein’s work in this selling exhibition, which speaks to both the individual and the common narrative of humankind. The exhibition continues at Chichester Cathedral until 30th October and entry is free. For more information about ‘Moment to Moment’, go to or visit

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 16th October 2013 in the West Sussex Gazette.

Rococo ~ a Genre Pittoresque

A George III Rococo gilt-framed wall mirror with shell surmount and fabulous birds.
A George III Rococo gilt-framed wall mirror with shell surmount and fabulous birds.

Fashion in our own times often seems to be driven in a reactionary way, as one style supplants another. It is perhaps surprising to reflect that this is not just a modern phenomenon. In early 18th century France the style which was to become known as ‘Rococo’ developed in reaction to the Baroque that preceded it. There is a playful quality to the Rococo. Here the classical gives way to decorative motifs drawn from nature and in England even the influences of Chinese and Gothic taste are sometimes incorporated.

The Edict of Nantes was passed by Henry IV of France in 1598 to bring to an end the French Wars of Religion, which had raged between Catholics and Protestants in the second half of the 16th century. It granted French Protestants, often known as Huguenots, far-reaching rights to work in all spheres of civil and state life. Although it brought a form of peace to France, Huguenots continued to face hostility and prejudice in what remained a predominantly Catholic country. The edict also had a weakening effect on the French monarchy. In 1685 Louis XIV, the Sun King, famous for his extravagant court at Versailles, revoked the Edict of Nantes and later sought to force Huguenots to convert to Catholicism. Huguenot craftsmen left France in large numbers, taking refuge in Protestant countries like England, Holland and Switzerland. In this country they had a profound effect on the life of our nation. For example, the first Governor of the Bank of England, Sir John Houblon, and several of his directors were of Huguenot origin. They also brought the influence of French tastes and styles.

It is difficult to determine where the weighty Renaissance Baroque of Louis XIV’s reign ends and the Rococo begins in France, as one grew out of the other. The term ‘Rococo’ is a 19th century creation, a combination of ‘rocaille’, referring to shellwork, and ‘barocco’, a term first used in a rather disparaging way to describe the outmoded Baroque style in the early 18th century. It was not until the 1940s that Rococo assumed its present association with this style.

In 1715 Louis XIV died, leaving his five-year-old great-grandson as heir to the French throne. He would later become Louis XV, when he had reached maturity. The French Regency under Philippe, the Duc d’Orléans, lasted until 1723. The Régence style marked a new phase in the development of the French Rococo and by the 1730s it had developed into the ‘genre pittoresque’, which saw rocky caves, dragons and waterfalls, embellished by shells, bocages and putti, employed in romantic compositions which delight in their playful and spirited designs. Major exponents included Nicolas Pineau (1684-1754) and Juste-Aurèle Meissonier (1695-1750).

By the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714), England’s furniture-making industry had found its own and particular voice. By the 1720s in London, it was concentrated around St. Paul’s Churchyard and Palladianism was the predominant taste. Its restrained classical lines and proportions were inspired by the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580), who himself was influenced by Greek and Roman architecture from classical antiquity. Palladianism was expressed beautifully in this country by the extraordinary architect Inigo Jones (1573-1652). William Kent (1685-1748), under the patronage of Lord Burlington at Chiswick House and British Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, continued in the Palladian style. Indeed, Holkham Hall is perhaps Kent’s most complete expression of the Palladian taste and, to my eye, one of the finest houses in England. In 1735 William Hogarth founded the St. Martin’s Lane Academy in London. Influenced by the French Régence and in reaction to the restraint of Palladianism, the Academy was chiefly responsible for the promotion of the Rococo style in London. The importance of nature in ornament and the beauty of the serpentine line were inculcated in a generation of furniture makers by teachers like Louis-François Roubiliac. As the furniture-making industry in London gravitated towards St. Martin’s Lane from St. Paul’s Churchyard, it increasingly brought cabinetmakers into the sphere of influence of the Academy and the Rococo style was quickly assimilated. Anti-French sentiments in the mid-18th century led to an anglicising of the Rococo taste. The English Rococo taste is typified by its use of asymmetrical ‘C’ scrolls, cartouches and acanthus leaf foliage in combination with rockwork, animals and naturalistic trees. The George III Rococo giltwood and gesso-framed wall mirror illustrated, with its shell surmount, rockwork frieze, scrolls, foliage and fabulous birds, captures much of this taste. By the 1750s, both Chinese and Gothic influences had been added to the Rococo decorative vocabulary. The Gothic taste was popularised by Sir Robert Walpole’s son Horace and his famous Strawberry Hill Gothic villa, which he built at Twickenham between 1749 and 1776.

Pierre Langlois commode
An early George III kingwood parquetry and marquetry commode of serpentine bombé form, attributed to Pierre Langlois, auctioned at Toovey’s for £160,000.

The influence of French taste is clearly evident in the early George III kingwood parquetry and marquetry commode illustrated, attributed to the celebrated French cabinetmaker Pierre Langlois. The commode is very similar to a pair of commodes commissioned by William Craven, 6th Baron Craven (1738-91) for Benham Park. The Craven commodes were attributed to Pierre Langlois, in association with the bronze-caster and gilder Dominique Jean, in a series of articles published in ‘Connoisseur’ magazine by Peter Thornton and William Reider, 1971-72. Pierre Langlois established himself as one of the leading cabinetmakers in London while trading from his premises at 39 Tottenham Court Road between 1759 and 1781. His clients included many important figures of the time, including the 4th Earl of Bedford for Woburn Abbey and Horace Walpole. The commode was banded in palisander, the top inlaid with ribbon-tied summer flowers within a stiff-leaf cartouche, flanked by two flower sprays. The sides and two doors were inlaid with swagged summer flowers, ribbon bows and moths, while the front projecting corners, apron and feet were decorated with ormolu shell and acanthus-leaf scroll mounts and sabots. The interior was fitted with three palisander-fronted drawers and Rococo-shell handles. The carcass and shaped apron were supported by outswept tapering bracket feet. The commode was auctioned at Toovey’s for £160,000.

George III giltwood wall mirror
A George III giltwood and gesso-framed wall mirror, auctioned on Friday 11th October 2013

In the October Specialist Furniture Auction Toovey’s offered a collection of fine 18th century English furniture, consigned for sale by The Royal College of Radiologists in London. Highlights includes a number of gilt-framed Rococo wall mirrors. The example illustrated sold within estimate for £1200.

For more information on Toovey’s specialist furniture sales click here.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 9th October 2013 in the West Sussex Gazette.

Alison Milner-Gulland ~ Painting Icons for a Modern World

Alison Milner Gulland at home at the foot of the downs

This week I am with the Washington-based artist, Alison Milner Gulland, whose exhibition of Icons is being held at the parish church of St Nicholas, Arundel this coming weekend. Alison gives voice to her artistic imagination through the media of oil, watercolour, collage, print-making and ceramics. The lyrical and textual qualities of her work combine with her rich earthy palette to unite subject and medium.

‘Madonna and Child’ by Alison Milner Gulland

Alison Milner Gulland’s inherent themes and subjects include: landscapes, music, musicians and Icons. I ask Alison where her inspiration to paint Icons comes from. Talking about the ‘Madonna and Child’ illustrated here she answers “The inspiration for this Icon came from a sketch I made at a Sussex Historical Churches Trust talk at St Mary’s in West Chiltington.” I ask whether the image appeared in her imagination. “Yes” she replies emphatically and continues “The scratched, leaf tendrils are inspired by the medieval wall paintings there. I find shapes in things.” The tenderness of St Mary the Blessed Virgin and the Christ child is conveyed with an arresting clarity. Mary’s eyes are averted from us, she is lost in thought whilst the baby Jesus holds us with the intensity of his loving gaze. I adore that this scene is united with a particular church in Sussex. Alison’s Icons follow in, and draw inspiration from an ancient tradition. However, the methods she employs to create these images marks a distinct departure. This ‘Madonna and Child’ for example employs print, paint and collage to great effect, whilst the reds and blues show a faithfulness to the colours traditionally employed in depictions of St Mary.

‘The World Looks on’ by Alison Milner Gulland

In contrast to the serenity of this scene is the less traditional Icon ‘The World Looks on’. Alison comments “I was inspired to create this work by the charred panel on which it’s painted.” She explains that the images came out of a deeply held concern for those caught up in conflict and in particular for two young men she had met in a Syrian bazaar selling jewellery. She had questioned the authenticity of a piece they offered for sale. This chance meeting and exchange led to Alison finding herself being dragged up a mountain by the two men to watch the setting sun, their lives united by this shared moment. And so this Icon reflects Alison’s continuing concern for these two young men and her hope that they are safe in the tumult of conflict in their country. But the image also speaks of conflict in broader terms. Beneath the military helicopter the dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, hope and peace is wounded. An angel holds out her hands in a gesture of concern and blessing whilst rioters in this country and combatants abroad fight and destroy in the sight of the whole world, in the sight of all of us.

The process of painting Icons is often termed Icon writing. Writing an Icon is described as a form of prayer, each brushstroke inspired by a form of meditation and reflection. Alison’s working process reflects this. Those that write Icons speak of the importance of being at peace with themselves. To me there is a quality of prayer in these Icons and Alison is at peace in her art and her landscape.

Her Sussex downland landscapes are inspired by memories of riding on horseback through the countryside. “In my imagination the rhythm of the horse combines with the movement in the landscape” she explains. Imagination and memory synthesize enabling her to commit the Downs’ enfolding curves, ancient paths, chalk, pasture and fields to canvas and paper. These landscapes like ‘Moonlight’, illustrated here, are rhythmic. They express something of the ancient and the present.

‘Moonlight’ by Alison Milner Gulland

Alison’s Icons invite us to take time to reflect on the needs and blessings of the world, and the part we must play in it. They stimulate thoughts in our imaginations and our hearts and as   they do so we find we are engaged in a silent conversation giving expression to our hopes and concerns – which of course is prayer. Perhaps an Icon by Alison Milner Gulland might speak to you and afford an invitation to meditation and prayer at home.

Icons can be viewed at St Nicholas’ Parish Church, Arundel between 9.30am and 4.30pm from Saturday 28th September to Tuesday 1st October 2013. I hope to see you there!

Alison Milner Gulland’s works including musicians and landscapes are also being shown at the Menier Gallery, London as part of The Society of Graphic Artists 92nd annual open exhibition from 30th September to 12th October; also at the Hop Gallery Lewis and the Moonlight Gallery Hove this autumn.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 25th September 2013 in the West Sussex Gazette.