A pretty girl vaguely related to Churchill's mistress - Used under Creative Commons License

Few would usually say that Winston Churchill was abstemious in his habits, he drank, smoked and gambled to distraction most of his life. However, it has always been more usually assumed that he was sparing in his deployment of a famously large manhood. Today’s story is that he was still sparing, just not quite as much so as previously known. However, his lover, Lady Doris Castlerosse (aka, Delevingne) was very much more liberal with her favours. To the point that describing her as a socialite isn’t in fact correct, she was very much more of une grande horizontale. Which is, if we’re honest about it, really a way of saying prostitute without actually saying it.

In fact Lady Castlerosse was an old flame of Churchill’s and the full details of the brief, but passionate affair they enjoyed nearly eight year earlier can now be revealed for the first time.

Well, yes, that’s true so far as it goes. This isn’t quite so much:

The image of Britain’s greatest wartime leader may need a spot of revisionism. A hitherto unreleased interview with his key aide confirms that Sir Winston Churchill had a secret affair with a socialite that had the potential to wreck his career and damage his country at its hour of greatest need.

Socialite tends to mean someone who goes to lots of parties with all the right people. It might mean sexual liberality, often does in fact, but not quite to the extent that Doris lived her life:

The most notorious courtesan of 1930s society, Doris Delevingne boasted that she had reached the height of her profession. Indeed, by the mid ‘thirties, she had risen from humble beginnings in a small terrace house in Beckenham where she lived with her tradesman father, to a swanky address in Mayfair. Advancing on her foundation of beauty, brains and a fancy surname (she fibbed she was descended from a noble Belgian family), Doris set herself up as a one-woman-business, with nothing to trade except her body, and her sparkling wit should her admirer care for conversation. ‘An Englishwoman’s bed is her castle,’ she quipped, quite proud of her achievements. To some it was shameful; but to Doris it was a small price to pay for Rolls Royces, designer shoes, Parisian clothes and baubles from Cartier. She even shortened her name to Delavigne, fearing the original spelling might be too complicated to spell on a cheque.

It wasn’t 10 bob for a tumble but the deal on offer was known and understood all the same. Prostitute isn’t quite the right word, courtesan might be, socialite isn’t, la grande horizontale – given the way the English continually blame the French for sex – perhaps fits best.

We could just dismiss this as historical gossip but this story is running around the world, even the Dutch are taking note.

In de jaren dertig werd Winston Chruchill, getrouwd met Clementine, verliefd op Doris Castlerosse, met wie hij een paar keer vakantie vierden in Frankrijk en die hij ook in Londen zag.

Me neither but best to inform J. Foreigner.

It does have to be said that this isn’t exactly unusual in the Churchill family. His mother, Jenny, was said to have had 400 lovers but then she was an American. His daughter in law, Pamela, popped out the one for Randolph then became a very grand horizontale indeed, managing to marry one or two of them and inherit despite not quite landing Gianni Agnelli and others. But then she became an American, didn’t she? Meaning that Winston actually was abstemious in this area of his life, by the standards of his family at least.