The Churchill Vase, an important Royal Worcester presentation urn by Harry Davis, made in 1950

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Lot 327
The Churchill Vase, an important Royal Worcester presentation urn by Harry Davis, made in 1950

Sold for £ 11,250 (US$ 14,054) inc. premium
The Churchill Vase, an important Royal Worcester presentation urn by Harry Davis, made in 1950
As a facsimile of the urn presented to Sir Winston Churchill, of oval section in the Classical taste with formal bracket handles hung with gold rings, the apple green ground with gilded foliate scrollwork reserving rectangular panels, the front finely painted with a view of Worcester Cathedral from across the River Severn, the view flanked by trees and with several figures in the foreground, signed H Davis, the reverse with the crests and motto of Spencer Churchill, under the base the arms of the Corporation of the City of Worcester, 36.5cm wide including handles, factory mark in gold for 1948-50, gilder's initials I.J.W. for Ivor Williams

Footnotes

  • The Churchill Urn

    The Freedom of the City of Worcester was bestowed upon Sir Winston Churchill on 20th May 1950, following a great line of famous Freemen beginning with Admiral Nelson in 1802. For Churchill, a huge cheering crowd thronged the streets around the Guildhall and the Band of the Worcester Regiment played as the great man arrived to roars of 'Good old Winnie!' Churchill was holding his famous cigar and gave the crowd his inevitable V for Victory sign. Those inside the Guildhall were thrilled to attend the luncheon and watch the presentation. The deed of admission was contained in a drawer in the ebony plinth of a specially designed jardinière created for the occasion by Royal Worcester. The front of the jardinière, which the factory workers called an 'urn', was painted with a view of Worcester Cathedral by Harry Davis and the gilding and the crests on the reverse were by Ivor Williams. This gorgeous piece is still in Chartwell, Churchill's home.

    In case of disaster befalling the Churchill Urn ahead of the big day, Royal Worcester decided to create an identical copy. Harry Davis and Ivor Williams worked on both urns simultaneously. Fortunately both survived the many kiln firings and it was decided to exhibit the duplicate urn in Royal Worcester's London showroom at 30 Curzon Street, where it sat on a grand mantelpiece for a number of years. It is believed that early in the 1960s the duplicate urn was exhibited and sold by Thomas Goode's as part of a garniture with the two matching vases included in this sale- further splendid examples of Harry Davis's wonderful painting.

    Perhaps regretting their decision to sell the original duplicate urn, around the time I became Curator of Royal Worcester the Company decided to make another copy, to be shown in the museum at Worcester. The same decorators did the work and this was to be one of Harry Davis's last masterpieces and his final painting of Worcester Cathedral. Ivor Williams, who still lives in Worcester, remembers working on the replacement copy and how he had to go to Chartwell to study the details on the reverse of the original Churchill Urn. Copy number three became one of the highlights of the museum display. It remained the property of Royal Worcester and with the closing of the factory it was sold in 2010 by Serrells auctioneers in Worcester.

    Now urn number two is to be sold by Bonhams and the lucky buyer will have one of the finest pieces made by Royal Worcester in the 20th century. Having known both Harry and Ivor, I feel a personal connection with the urn in more ways than one. My aunt Vivienne, a fine studio photographer, took some remarkable photographs of Winston Churchill, including the great one of him, seated and with a bulldog expression, that now hangs on the staircase of 10 Downing Street. Vivienne also took photographs of Winston in the gardens of Chartwell. So I wish the purchaser of the urn all joy:- there is a bit of me inside it!

    Henry Sandon
Contacts
The Churchill Vase, an important Royal Worcester presentation urn by Harry Davis, made in 1950
The Churchill Vase, an important Royal Worcester presentation urn by Harry Davis, made in 1950
The Churchill Vase, an important Royal Worcester presentation urn by Harry Davis, made in 1950
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