David Lough to speak at Althorp and Rye festivals in 2016

25th January 2016

David Lough will speak about his book No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money at two more of Britain’s literary festivals in 2016.  They are the Althorp Literary festival, held at the beginning of July at Earl Spencer’s Northamptonshire home, and the Rye Arts Festival, held in Rye, east Sussex, an old Cinque Port.

Both locations have a special Churchill connection. The Althorp festival was founded and is curated by Earl Spencer, himself a historian writing as Charles Spencer. It was his ancestor Charles Spencer who linked the Churchill and Spencer families in 1733 when he became the third duke of Marlborough. His grandfather’s son had died early as a result of smallpox and Parliament gave special dispensation for the dukedom to pass down the female line. Churchill’s elder daughter Henrietta became the second duke but, when she also died without a living male heir, the title passed to the elder son  of Harriet’s younger sister, Anne. Anne had married into the Spencer family and Charles, its heir, was already the earl of Sunderland. Although his relations with his grandmother the dowager duchess of Marlborough, who controlled the Blenheim estate during her lifetime, were never good, Charles Spencer elected to assume the marlborough title, thus linking the family surname as Spencer Churchill for several generations. Although a later duke reverted to the sole name of Churchill, Winston Churchill was baptised Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill in deference to the link.

Warden of the Cinque Ports is one of Britain’s most ancient offices, much enjoyed by Winston Churchill because, amongst other perquisites, it gave him the opportunity to dress up in an exotic uniform. Among the Cinque Ports which face France on the south-east coast of Britain is Rye, which hosts an annual Arts Festival in September. Today the sea has receded a couple of miles, but Rye looks out over it across Romney marsh, famed for its cobbled streets and literary connections.