London: Daily Telegraph, 30 June 1943. Photograph. This original press photograph captures Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill and his family in a horse-drawn carriage in front of The Daily Telegraph building following the ceremony at which Churchill was given the Honorary Freedom of the City of London on 30 June 1943. The image, measuring 6.25 x 8.25 in (20.3 x 25.4 cm), is a gelatin silver print on glossy photo paper. Condition is very good. The paper is crisp and clean with some light scuffing visible only under raking light. This photograph features original hand-applied retouching to some of the figures (including figures in the carriage, the figure seated beside the carriage driver, and a photographer in an elevated position in front of the carriage) and white crop marks. Fittingly, given the location of the photograph, the verso bears a copyright stamp of The Daily Telegraph. The verso also features a stamp reading “MANCHESTER”, and a handwritten caption reading, “Taken on the way to the Mansion House after Churchill had received the Freedom of the City of London.”
On 30 June 1943 the City of London bestowed its greatest honor on the man who was leading them through the war when it presented Prime Minister Winston Churchill with the Honorary Freedom of the City of London. The Freedom of the City of London, like many British traditions, is centuries old and today far removed from its original purposes. Established in the 13th century, the Freedom originally meant that its recipient was not the property of a feudal lord and had the right to earn money and own land. Today the Freedom is bestowed on those who have made a significant impact in their field in London. The Honorary Freedom is a far rarer and greater honor usually bestowed only on Heads of State during a formal ceremony at the Guildhall.
At the Guildhall ceremony Churchill gave a lengthy speech, opening with thanks for the honor, “The strain of protracted war is hard and severe upon the men at the executive summit of great countries, however lightly care may seem to sit upon them. They have need of all the help and comfort their fellow countrymen can give them. I feel myself buoyed up by your good will here today, and indeed I have felt uplifted through all these years by the consideration with which the British people have treated me, even when serious mistakes have been made.” (Complete Speeches, Vol VII, p. 6792)
This press photo was once a part of the working archives of The Daily Telegraph. During the first half of the twentieth century, photojournalism grew as a practice, fundamentally changing the way the public interacted with current events. Newspapers assembled expansive archives, with physical copies of all photographs published or deemed useful for potential future use, their versos typically marked with ink stamps and notes providing provenance and captions. Photo departments would often take brush, paint, pencil, and marker to the surface of photographs themselves to edit them before publication. Today these photographs exist as repositories of historical memory, technological artifacts, and often striking pieces of vernacular art. Item #005648