A lockdown clear-out has led to the uncovering of a fascinating archive belonging to the personal chauffeur of Winston Churchill.
The collection of letters, telegrams, and instructions was the property of the late Reginald Parker. It was found by a furloughed clerk in a jigsaw box during a home clear-out.
The find subsequently went up for auction at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers in July, selling for £520.
Beginning his career in 1925, Parker served five British heads of government, including Ramsay MacDonald, Neville Chamberlain, and Clement Attlee, as well as Churchill. Parker retired in 1949, four years after the end of the war.
The series of telegrams and instructions reveal the extent of the communication and coordination that took place between the Prime Minister’s residence in Downing Street and the Metropolitan Police.
As well as the head of government, Churchill was also a war leader, meaning that his personal security was paramount.
Members of his personal staff would have had to have been loyal and trustworthy, and Parker appears to have been no exception. A photograph of Churchill with his signature attached hints at the closeness of their relationship.
The now-former owner of the archive, who did not wish to be named, discussed how it came into their possession. ‘It used to belong to my mother-in-law’s partner, whose surname was Parker,’ they said. ‘When he died, I helped to clear his bungalow in Hilton, Derbyshire.’
‘There was quite a bit of stuff which needed to be sold, scrapped or given to charity,’ they continued. ‘I stumbled across the paperwork and photos when I opened an old suitcase in the loft.’
Hansons stated that they believe the bungalow belonged to Parker’s son. Commenting on the find, a spokesperson for the auctioneers added, ‘the fascinating archive provides an insight into the daily lives of some of the most famous names in British political history and highlights the part played by a devoted chauffeur.’
This article was published in the October/November issue of Military History Matters. To find out more about the magazine and how to subscribe, click here.