A unique pair of Winston Churchill’s shotguns are on public display as part of an exhibition of the ‘greatest Briton’ at Blenheim Palace.
The pair of Woodward single-trigger hammerless ejector game guns are believed to have been a gift to the future Prime Minister, who was born at Blenheim Palace, from his grandfather the 10th Duke of Marlborough.
They were delivered to the newly-elected MP for Oldham care of the Houses of Parliament in 1902 within an ornate oak and leather case.
“In the world of British gun making, James Woodward & Sons have always been counted as amongst the very best and are often referred to as ‘the gunmaker’s gunmaker’,” said Christopher Beaumont of Holts Auctioneers, Europe’s leading auction house for fine modern and antique firearms.
“Known for their perfect combination of form and function, these elegant guns would grace the gunrooms of the most discerning of game shots – and it is no surprise to see that they would have been Winston Churchill’s maker of choice.
“The Woodward ‘Automatic’ hammerless gun was first designed in 1876 and went through various stages of development, this particular pair being prime examples of their time with the classic half pistol hand stocks, arcaded fences and the protruding tumbler pivots marked with cocking indicators.
“Being made for one of the most iconic figures in modern history adds a virtually unquantifiable value to them – and were they ever to appear at auction it would not surprise me to see that value double, triple or even quadruple on the day” he added.
Woodward & Sons was purchased by James Purdey & Sons in the 1940s who still hold a large number of the original record and order books; including Churchill’s.
Churchill had all his guns put into storage with Woodward’s in 1943 and there is a record of them all being transferred over to Purdey’s in 1948 when they took over ownership of the company.
The shotguns are on loan to the exhibition from Randolph Churchill, Sir Winston’s great grandson.