It’s a story worthy of Churchill’s classic quote when describing Russia as ‘a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’.

As the 100th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s marriage to Clementine Hozier beckons tomorrow, question marks remain over what happened to the photographic record of the couple’s happy day.

Winston and Clementine were married at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster on September 12, 1908, after a very brief engagement announced that August.

The marriage produced five children, lasted more than 50 years and only ended with Sir Winston’s death in January 1965.

It has become one of the most celebrated unions in 20th Century history and heads a list populated by other famous political marriages including Margaret and Denis Thatcher and Tony and Cherie Blair.

Now, the Churchill Archives Centre, based at Cambridge University’s Churchill College, has launched a fresh appeal for information about the photos of the Churchills’ wedding reception to coincide with centenary celebrations taking place both at home and abroad.

Recent research by author Tom Norgate has found that photographer John William Righton was definitely on hand to capture the Churchills’ wedding breakfast on September 12, 1908.

But the photos taken at 52 Portland Place in London, the home of Clementine’s great aunt Lady St Helier - and the venue for their wedding breakfast – seem to have disappeared. Neither the Churchill family or the Archives Centre have been able to track them down.

Wherever they are, Righton’s photos are known to have captured images of the wedding guests and some notable presents, including gifts from the Royal Family

Guests who attended included future Prime Minister David Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Churchill’s cousin the Duke of Malborough, the best man Lord Hugh Cecil and William Joynson Hicks MP – who had narrowly defeated Churchill in the Manchester election earlier that year.

The marriage seemed to catch the public imagination, with large crowds of Londoners assembling outside the church, including a gathering of Pearly Kings and Queens.

Churchill Archives Centre Director Allen Packwood said “This is an early example of Churchill’s popularity in London, even as a junior minister. He later fired the resolve of the British public during our finest hour in World War II with his inspirational speeches, originals of which are held at Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge.”

The missing photos are also known to show presents to the happy couple from none other than King Edward VII – who gifted a gold-topped walking stick - and Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, who gave them the complete works of Jane Austen.

Clementine was widely acknowledged for her role in creating and maintaining a stable home environment for Winston as he learned to fly in 1913, fought in the trenches in 1916 and guided the United Kingdom through the darkest days of World War II.

To mark the centenary of the wedding, the Churchill Archives Centre has also created displays from their priceless raft of material for several planned events. The Archive houses Winston and Clementine’s personal correspondence and photographs among its other material.

Today, Churchill’s granddaughter Celia Sandys and her guests – including Packwood – will raise a toast on board the luxury yacht Christina O.

The Christina O – which formerly belonged to Aristotle Onassis – famously carried the Churchills and Maria Callas around the Mediterranean in 1959. Celia was on board as a young girl and has since written extensively about her grandfather’s travels. She will present a TV documentary Chasing Churchill which airs this month.

On September 12 itself, as part of the 25th International Churchill Conference of The Churchill Centre in Boston, a black tie 100th anniversary gala will celebrate the occasion.

An after-dinner address will examine the Churchills’ marriage and attendees include the grandson and great-grandson of Winston and Clementine.

Finally, on September 18, David Coffer, the owner of 52 Portland Place, will host a special celebratory dinner.

Packwood added: “The celebrations show what an iconic figure Winston Churchill remains. We have thousands of boxes of material documenting Churchill’s life from his early school reports right through to the plans for his state funeral. Churchill himself wrote ‘… I married and lived happily ever afterwards’. It would be wonderful to fill one of very few gaps in the archive with photographs of such a pivotal event in his life.”

*The sketch pictured above is the only known 'image' of the wedding day itself.

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