For sale: the hat that helped bring America into war

A GREY homburg hat belonging to Sir Winston Churchill, which he gave to a friend to stop him catching cold, is expected to fetch nearly pounds 4,000 when it is auctioned in three weeks.

The grey hat, size 6 and 7/8, with the initials WSC stamped in the silk lining, was a present from Churchill to Harry Hopkins, a special adviser to President Roosevelt during the Second World War.

Mr Hopkins, who was bald and suffered ill-health, was a frequent visitor to London and had many discussions with Churchill, the Prime Minister who was trying to persuade the Americans to enter the war.

On one such occasion as they were preparing to go out, Churchill, who was rarely seen without a hat, noticed the cold weather and offered one of his own hats to his friend to cover his bare head. Mr Hopkins was delighted and was often seen wearing the hat until his death in 1946.

Alan Kucia, the senior archivist at the Churchill Archive in Cambridge, said Mr Hopkins worked very closely with Sir Winston and the two were in regular contact.

"Churchill was a great collector of hats and he was very generous so it would not surprise me that he would have given one to his friend," he said.

"Hopkins died right after the war and we have several telegrams from Churchill to him asking about his health. They were friends as well as working together and Hopkins was entertained at Chequers."

Nicholas Soames, MP and grandson of Sir Winston, said: "Harry Hopkins was a great friend of his and he gave him the hat as a mark of affection.

"I am sure he would have worn it - he wouldn't have given him a hat he didn't wear."

Churchill memorabilia remains extremely popular and last year one of his top hats fetched pounds 22,000 when it was sold in London.

The homburg, to be sold in New York, was originally discovered when Mr Hopkins' widow called in an antique dealer to clear her attic. The dealer felt the hat should be returned to the British and took it to the British Information Service in New York and it was presented to D'Arcy Edmonson, who was head of the office at the time.

Mr Edmonson was greatly looking forward to wearing the hat and was apparently distressed to find it would not fit. But the hat was a perfect fit for his colleague Charlie Campbell, a senior press officer at the British Embassy, who also enjoyed wearing it.

His widow, Dorothy, who is selling the hat, said her husband was a great admirer of Sir Winston. "Charlie used to accompany Churchill on his visits to Washington during the war and he really admired him," she said. "He was so happy when the hat fitted him and he used to wear the hat to the office and to walk our dog, Mr Cholmondley.

"Charlie died suddenly in 1956 and I have been carrying the hat around with me since, but now I have decided that I really don't need it any more and I am going to sell it."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy