Gathering Storms

Chartwell House, credit Wikipedia

Gathering Storms

 by Stuart Millson

In 2002, the late Albert Finney starred in a film for television, directed by Richard Loncraine, about the “wilderness years” of Winston Churchill. With Vanessa Redgrave co-starring as his devoted wife Clementine, The Gathering Storm depicted the efforts made by the then marginalised Churchill to warn Britain of the growing power of The Third Reich and the possibility of the invasion of our islands if its defences were not improved.

With great attention to period detail, the drama concentrated on domestic life at Chartwell, the large house in north-west Kent, near Westerham, which was Churchill’s home and political power-base for much of his life. Sir Winston adored the grounds and the old building, with its 14th-century foundations and profoundly rural setting in the wooded Kentish hills. Here, the ridge of the North Downs gives way to lower-lying land, and country roads eventually lead on to the castles of Chiddingstone and Tonbridge – and then to the leafy Weald of southern England, which thanks to ‘The Few’, the panzers never reached. Visiting Chartwell today, one has a sense of the house as a redoubt; a personal fortress in the immemorial English landscape, where one of our most remarkable political figures predicted the gathering storm presaging world war.

Now run by the English charity the National Trust, Chartwell, despite the cafes and visitor centres and the steepish entrance fee, preserves an authentic atmosphere of its life and times, and memories of the Churchill family that once lived there linger. Set near the house is Churchill’s studio. We tend to forget today that this grand old man of British politics was also an enthusiastic painter. Landscape painting in the Atlas mountains or in the South of France helped Churchill drive away the “black dog”, the depression that followed him throughout his life. Ditto writing  and brick-laying.

In the aforementioned studio is – or was – a bust of that renowned poet of the imperial era, Rudyard Kipling, presented to Chartwell’s owner in 1935 by the patriotic organisation, The Royal Society of St. George, a body founded in 1894 and still extant. Ever since the death of George Floyd on 25th May of this year, cultural Marxists – both in Britain and the United States – have declared war on historic monuments. Several  agencies and cultural bodies, notably The National Trust (which, after the Second World War took over the ownership and protection of many impoverished stately homes) decided to “review” their activities and purposes. For the National Trust, this meant compiling a list of their properties which have – horror of horrors – links to “colonialism and slavery” (note the Trust’s indicative conflation of the two terms); a list that stretches to no fewer than 93 sites, including Kipling’s home in Sussex – and Churchill’s in Kent.

That Churchill and Kipling both lived after the age of slavery – and that Britain and its navy ruthlessly cleared the slave traders from the oceans – evidently means nothing to the ‘National’ Trust’s senior management. That Churchill saved us from the slavery of a foreign invasion also, seemingly, means little more. Any flicker of our imperial history is something to be frowned upon, or packed away in a crate – the latter being the fate of Chartwell’s bust of Kipling.

What does the removing of the bust of one of our greatest poets – from the home of one of our foremost statesmen – say about the ‘National’ Trust, or indeed, the Britain of today? Having won an empire (and lost it), defeated Hitler and saved the British homeland, it is beyond belief that we are currently tearing up our history. What enemies beyond our borders failed to achieve, a new enemy within has come close to achieving.

But another storm seems to be gathering: criticism grows each day of the misnamed Trust now running down our stately homes, castles and other historic places. British people are losing patience with the politically-correct elite, which – despite a Tory Government in power– has seized control of our cultural life. The tide, so memorably evoked by Kipling himself in the poem My Boy Jack, is starting to turn.

Stuart Millson is QR’s Classical Music Editor

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4 Responses to Gathering Storms

  1. David Ashton says:

    One recent detail in this sorry story is the description of royal homes being built from the profits of slavery (see e.g. Dylan Donnelly, “Express”, 30 October 2020). The colourful history presenter Lucy Worsley is a driver of this nonsense, which she manages with a simpering celebrity not required by her more mature (and better-looking) TV “rivals” Suzannah Lipscomb and Kate Williams. The “moral illegitimacy” of our Monarchy is another emerging theme, because of four centuries of “evil” imperialism under the Crown, quite apart from the transatlantic slavery years.
    A further theme is that the officially defined “White British” home-island subjects themselves have inherited wealth, institutions and culture “based on” the colonial exploitation of officially defined “BAME” peoples, in parallel with the “critical r*c* theory” that those Americans who “look like” the Founding Fathers benefit from territorial theft and mass extermination of “Red Indians” and the forced labour and agricultural production of “Black Africans”. There is no need to spell out here the “social justice” reparations and expropriations implied by this fake-history, except briefly to note its serviceability as a recent pretext for “direct street action” in e.g. burning police cars and looting (even Korean!) shops.
    The ratchet-style subversion of western institutions that developed from the US campus in the 1960s, accurately if belatedly documented by writers like Michael William (2016), Douglas Murray (2020), James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose (2020), required the political exploitation of “minorities”, including immigrants. This has coincided with a comparative population explosion in many former “colonial” but still poor and conflict-troubled regions; please see e.g. Eric Kaufman, “Whiteshift” (Penguin 2019) & Stephen Smith, “The Scramble for Europe” (Polity 2019).
    The possibility of major demographic crisis was not only predicted by post-WW2 writers from different viewpoints, e.g. Frantz Fanon, “Toward the African Revolution” (Evergreen 1988/1964), Ronald Segal, “The Race War” (Penguin 1967) & Patrick Buchanan “Death of the West (Griffin 2002), but by (among others) the eminent social psychologist William McDougall FRS, “Ethics & Some Modern World Problems” (Methuen 1925), the eminent Anglican philosopher Dean W. R. Inge FBA, “Outspoken Essays: Second Series” (Longmans, Green 1922) & the eminent philosopher-historian Oswald Spengler, “Hour of Decision” (Knopf 1934).
    It is an interesting reflection on our “Woke Police State” that even “right-wing” webmasters are fearful even of quoting relevant passages from the archives of pre-war prophets.

  2. David Ashton says:

    PS. Kaufmann (correct spelling).
    “Now the BBC’s favourite historian, Lucy Worsley, tells us we are wrong to celebrate Waterloo as a British victory….this is utter drivel, pandering to the ‘woke’ anti-patriotism so popular among the historically illiterate.” – Dominic Sandbrook, “Daily Mail,” 3 November.
    Compare this show-off and her “dwetthing-up box” with David Starkey, and how they have been treated.

  3. Stuart Millson says:

    Very effective, thoughtful and strong speech by the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer today. He spoke about the Government taking action too late during the pandemic, and about the need to protect incomes and communities etc. Sadly, he did not have the courage to call for a closure of the UK’s airports – which have remained open throughout this crisis, and which have helped to circulate the virus. (Taiwan, we should remember – population c. 25 million – closed its borders at the outset of the international crisis, thus leading to just a handful of cases in that country.)

    But what is very encouraging about Sir Keir’s leadership is how, at his press conferences, the Union flag is incorporated on the podium. I very much doubt that his predecessor would ever display the national flag, even at a time of acute crisis.

    When number two to Corbyn and at the height of Mrs. May’s Brexit troubles, Starmer did call for a second EU referendum, but has now completely abandoned that position – stating in a Daily Telegraph interview that Brexit has now been achieved, and we must work to make our country’s future a success. He is clearly a realist and has no great problem (as so many metropolitan Labour-left people had) with ideas of sovereignty and country.

  4. Stuart Millson says:

    This morning’s broadcast media was almost a parody of itself: Sky News (surprise, surprise) has taken “Harry and Meghan’s” revelations as gospel truth – running the headline across the screen – ‘ROYAL RACISM’. (So much for all those “award-winning investigative reporters” – “digging down” into a story.) The channel, having taken the “Sussexes” self-pitying claims at face-value, was almost demanding – bullying – Her Majesty the Queen into making “a statement” concerning the ghastly, stage-managed ‘Oprah’ show – a clear underlining of how most people in the media are at heart leftish, if not out-and-out republicans; using a story of this nature as a battering ram against our institutions.

    Meanwhile, on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme – a sort of daily party-political broadcast for the BLM cause – Thought for the Day consisted (yet again) of a meditation on slavery (this time from some comfortably-off chap at Trinity College, Dublin); “how we come to terms with it”, how we make reparations etc. Then, after the news bulletin, cue a discussion between a pro-multicultural TV historian and an even more pro-multicultural, anti-imperialist lawyer, who went as far as saying that the Royal Family has been built upon colonial exploitation!

    No thought was given, of course, to the thousands of people from the former Empire who fought for Britain in two world wars, to the Commonwealth commemoration, just two days ago – and, in all the discussion, about “racism”, nobody even considered that the cultural foundations of Britain from 2,000 to 1,000 years ago were laid down by Anglo-Saxon and Celtic peoples. To the Radio 4-ites, we are simply “a multicultural society”.

    No debate, no discussion, no nuance, no alternative view – just a constant, blasting message of grievance politics and “diversity” totalitarianism.

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