A cigar butt once in the hands of great wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill has been unearthed in Derbyshire.
Sir Winston was renowned for his love of large cigars and was often pictured with one in hand.
Now a glowing opportunity to own an item that once belonged to the legendary prime minister has arrived thanks to a Belper man whose father was gifted the cigar nearly 70 years ago.
It will be sold at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers on March 27 with an estimate of £500-£700.
Mr Mike Wood, who now owns the item, said: “I have had the cigar, safely wrapped up, since my parents passed away.
“My father, Bill Wood, was given the cigar in either 1952 or 1953. At the time, Churchill was British prime minister and my father was a police officer in Kent.
“At night, as part of a fast-response team, my father would frequently check that all was well at Chartwell, Churchill’s country home, near Westerham, Kent.
“They’d call in there and make sure everything was in order and, during one of those trips to Chartwell, someone in the house gave my father the cigar butt which had been smoked by Winston himself.”
Mr Wood, 74, an architect, said his father was so proud of the cigar he stored it carefully, protected by a small plastic bag, until he died in 1971.
It was passed down to Mr Wood after his mother died 12 years ago and he was reminded of its existence thanks to blockbuster movie Darkest Hour.
The 2017 war drama, starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, documents his early days as prime minister at the start of the Second World War. Oldman won a best actor Oscar for his towering portrayal and Mr Wood was so impressed by the film it prompted him to dig out the cigar butt.
“I am sure there is someone who would enjoy having this,” said Mr Wood, who grew up in Kent but has lived in Derbyshire since 1972. “It is a fantastic piece of memorabilia.”
Winston Churchill was prime minister from 1940-45, leading Britain to victory during the Second World War, and again from 1951-55.
He is said to have smoked around 250,000 cigars – 10 a day – during his lifetime, after becoming partial to them around 1895 when he was 21 or 22 and in Havana, Cuba, to observe the Spanish battles against Cuban guerrillas.
Sir Winston was said to be especially fond of large maduro cigars but observers noted he never seemed to smoke them more than half way down.
Jim Spencer, valuer at Hansons Auctioneers, said: “This is an incredible piece of history, the chance to own a cigar smoked by one of the greatest political leaders of all time. It’s an iconic piece of Churchill memorabilia because he was so often pictured holding a cigar.”
Last December, Hansons Auctioneers sold an armchair used by Winston Churchill when it was housed in the headmaster’s study at Harrow School for £320. The cigar butt will be sold at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, on March 27. To find out more, email [email protected] or call 01283 733988.