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About Madeira : History : Famous Visitors Last Updated: Jun 28, 2008 - 12:29:23 AM


Winston Churchill in Madeira
By Jorge Barbosa
Jun 6, 2008 - 10:29:53 AM


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One may view this photograph of Churchill at the luxurious Reid`s Hotel, taken in 1950. It has given the Reid`s Hotel a distinguished status by highligting the fact that somebody as prominent as Churchill chose this hotel to spend their winter vacation. The suite where Churchill stayed is now named after him and is decorated by several of his oils painted in Madeira.
Winston Churchill in Madeira

Special preparations were to be made for this unique voyage: prior to his visit to Madeira, Winston Churchill telegraphed Bryce Nairn, the British Consul in Madeira, to query about the hotels, the landscape, the flowers, the paintable scenes…But also, because he wanted the entire trip to be kept under wrap. It was important for Churchill that the consul try and keep any publicity leaking out regarding his probable ill-health whilst in Madeira. It was known in confidential circles that a month earlier before his departure he was forced to remain in bed with a bad case of the flu. It was so severe his political agenda was put on hold. Clearly, in course for the elections, this would not feature positively for Winston. Thus Madeira was to be, not only a vacation, but also the venue of his recuperation from the fatique and possible ill health that he started to suffer recently.

Accompanying him on his visit to Madeira was his wife Clementine, his daughter Diana, two secretaries - Miss Gilliatt and Miss Sturdee, and two special Branch detectives, G.E. Williams and E.A Davies. On leaving England he wrote to his beloved friend Lord Camrose saying: " a fortnight`s sunshine is in our hopes, and some weeks or months, or other things, in our minds."
It was evident that Churchill wanted to elude himself from the hussle and bussle of politics.

Churchill arrived in Funchal aboard the liner, the Durban Castle ,on the 2nd of January 1950. A surprise warm welcome was awaiting him and his family.
The English residents had heard about his arrival and along with the locals crowded around the harbour shouting : " the man who saved the world!". He proceeded immediately to his suite at the Reid`s Palace Hotel where he unpacked his war memoir materials and his paints.

 

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