Churchilliana – Wood Carving – Winston Churchill, Prime Ministers, Sheila Minto

Posted on Jan 5, 2012

Here we have a unique piece of sculpture in wood, created by Ian Brennan, Wood Carver to the Royal Household.  This piece is in the style of Mount Rushmore and depicts eight consecutive British Prime Ministers. The piece was commissioned to commemorate thirty three years of service at 10 Downing Street to these eight Prime Ministers by Sheila Minto OBE.

Sheila Minto, LVO, OBE former administrator at 10 Downing Street, was born on September 19, 1908 and died October 19th 1994. A loyal servant of eight Prime Ministers, Sheila Minto began her remarkable life in 10 Downing Street in 1935, a reluctant recruit from the War Office where she had been enjoying herself since 1929. She claimed that she only went over the road for an interview to be able to say that she had been in number 10 Downing Street. She remained there for 33 years, rising to control all the office staff and to administer the Honours List.

  • Stanley Baldwin was in office when she joined the staff at number 10 and she witnessed the growing crisis of the Abdication of King Edward VIII.
  • Next was Neville Chamberlain and the tensions of approaching war, she went on her first overseas trip with Chamberlain to meet Mussolini in Rome in 1939.
  • Then she served Winston Churchill throughout the war.
  • Post war was to see Clement Atlee and then Churchill again followed by Anthony Eden.
  • She then enjoyed great years working for Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home.
  • Harold Wilson was the last Prime Minister that she served. She retired in 1968 after 33 years at Number 10.

She worked a few more years as personal secretary to Lord Diplock, then the senior Law Lord.
In retirement she was much sort after by journalists and television writers who saw her as an invaluable source of information on what went on behind the scenes.

This piece was commissioned in 1989 to mark her memorable life at Number 10. It is carved in a light hardwood on a mahogany plinth, measures 13.5cm tall, 11.5cm wide and 7cm deep. The plinth, on which it sits, measures 15x9x4cm.
It is signed IB 1989. Value: $600

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