Saturday 1 October 2016

Churchill's hospital cigar for sale

Published 04/06/2015 | 17:41

The stubbed out cigar that was smoked by Sir Winston Churchill which is being sold by Duke's of Dorchester
The stubbed out cigar that was smoked by Sir Winston Churchill which is being sold by Duke's of Dorchester

The chewed end of a fat cigar smoked by Winston Churchill in his hospital bed could fetch up to £1,000 at auction.

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Churchill, then aged 87, smoked the cigar at Middlesex Hospital in 1962 while recuperating from a fractured hip after falling out of bed.

A student nurse collected it for her younger brother and saved it in a paper "Middlesex Hospital soiled dressing disposal bag".

The cigar, which has remained in the bag ever since, will go under the hammer at Duke's of Dorchester on October 15.

Timothy Medhurst, auctioneer at Duke's, said: "This cigar marks a pivotal moment for Sir Winston Churchill.

"Churchill had already experienced many injuries and to have such a devastating injury occur at such an old age was a threat to his stalwart 'British bulldog' image.

"Though Churchill largely relied on his walking stick by the time this broken hip occurred, the operation to fix the fracture would have a caused a shortening in his leg and photographs following 1962 always show Churchill leaning on his iconic walking stick.

"This injury in 1962 was also a poignant moment in Churchill's personal life - his beloved poodle Rufus II died whilst he was in hospital recovering.

"It is not surprising that Churchill's cigar smoking in his hospital bed was widely recorded.

"This year marks the 50 year anniversary of Churchill's death - the cigar is something we all associate with Churchill, one of the greatest leaders in history.

"We expect there to be great interest in it. It could sell for thousands."

Churchill sustained a fractured hip during a holiday in Monte Carlo. He was flown back to London in an RAF VC10 jet at the request of then-prime minister Harold Macmillan.

The war leader spent several weeks recuperating in the Woolavington Wing for private patients at Middlesex Hospital.

During his recovery, he contracted bronchitis and pneumonia which in turn led to thrombosis. It was widely anticipated that he would not survive the ordeal but Churchill pulled through despite his smoking habit.

He died at the age of 90 in January 1965.

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