Churchill Less Than Statesmanlike Over Bills

Churchill Less Than Statesmanlike Over Bills

Winston Churchill, probably the best-known British Prime Minister of the 20th century, once fell out with his tailor over unpaid bills.

The man who did so much to encourage the country during World War Two had, in 1937, run up a bill of £197 – around £12,000 in today's money – with Savile Row tailor Henry Poole & Co by the time he was asked to pay up.

The politician was so enraged by the request that he took offence, refused to settle the bill & never went to Poole's again.

The bill was so large because Poole’s were making garments not realising their client was never going to pay.

James Sherwood, a historian who looked at Poole & Co's archives said on their website: "Churchill said it was for morale, it was satisfactory for us (Henry Poole) to dress him & he wasn't aware we were short of cash.

"He never did pay, & never came back – he never forgave us," Mr Sherwood added.

Churchill, who led the Government during the war & again in the 1950s, was not alone among gentlemen avoiding paying their tailor's bills.

Charles Dickens was another bill avoider with the same tailor & Poole's finances were only helped when his father eventually settled the bill.

Going back further, King Edward VII – for whom the tailor invented the dinner jacket – was a poor payer while Prince of Wales.

It was noted that he made "infrequent payments on account that accumulated over years".

When he was eventually sent a bill, the prince showed his annoyance by removing his custom, only returning to them 20 years later, when he became king.

The tailors did have some honourable clients.

They included Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula, Prussian & German statesman Prince Otto von Bismarck, US banker JP Morgan & Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie – who was measured up in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

But those seemingly rare paying customers were not enough to save poor Henry Poole, whose firm at the time of his death, was in a offensive financial way.

He poignantly summed up his thoughts in his last surviving letter, written in 1875: "There will be nothing much to leave behind me. I have worked for a prince & for the public & must die a poor man."

The archives, dating from 1865, can be seen by appointment at their shop in London's heartland of Savile Row.

Source: “Sky News”