Mary Soames, Baroness Soames

Mary Soames, Baroness Soames, LG, DBE, FRSL (née Spencer-Churchill; 15 September 1922 – 31 May 2014) was an English author. The youngest of the five children of Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine,[1] she worked for multiple public organisations including the Red Cross and the Women's Voluntary Service from 1939 to 1941, and joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1941. She was the wife of Conservative politician Christopher Soames.

The Lady Soames

Mary Soames (1965).jpg
Soames in 1965
Mary Spencer-Churchill

(1922-09-15)15 September 1922
Died31 May 2014(2014-05-31) (aged 91)
London, England
Resting placeSt Martin's Church, Bladon
(m. 1947; died 1987)


1945 photo at Potsdam Conference
Junior commander Mary Churchill at British Victory Parade in Berlin, 21 July 1945.

Mary Spencer-Churchill was born and brought up at Chartwell, and educated at the Manor House at Limpsfield. She worked for the Red Cross and the Women's Voluntary Service from 1939 to 1941, and joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1941[2] with which she served in London, Belgium and Germany in mixed anti-aircraft batteries, rising to the rank of Junior Commander (equivalent to Captain). She also accompanied her father as aide-de-camp on several of his overseas journeys, including his post-VE trip to Potsdam, where he met with Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin. In 1945, she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), in recognition of meritorious military services.[3]

She served many public organisations, such as the International Churchill Society, as a Patron; Church Army and Churchill Houses; and chaired the Royal National Theatre Board of Trustees between 1989 and 1995.[4] She was Patron of the National Benevolent Fund for the Aged.

A successful author, Lady Soames wrote an acclaimed biography of her mother, Clementine Churchill, in 1979. She offered insights into the Churchill family to various biographers, prominently including Sir Martin Gilbert, who became the authorised biographer of Sir Winston Churchill after the death of Churchill's son, Randolph, in 1968. Additionally, she published a book of letters between Sir Winston and Lady Churchill, editing the letters as well as providing bridging material that placed the letters in personal, family, and historical context.[5] In 2012, her memoirs, based upon her diaries from childhood up to the time of her marriage, were published under the title A Daughter's Tale.[6]

In 1980, Lady Soames was promoted to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her public service, particularly in Rhodesia.[7]

In 1992 Soames appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. Her chosen book was Memoirs from Beyond the Grave by Chateaubriand and her luxury item was a supply of fine Havana cigars.[8]

One of her more notable public appearances came on 29 April 2002 when she dined with the Queen at Downing Street as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, alongside Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the four surviving former prime ministers at the time, as well as several relatives of other deceased prime ministers.[9]

She was made a Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter (LG) on 23 April 2005,[10] and was invested on 13 June at Windsor Castle.[11]


Christopher and Mary Soames' grave at St Martin's Church, Bladon, in 2015

On 31 May 2014, Lady Soames died at her home in London at the age of 91 following a short illness.[12][13] Her ashes are buried next to those of her husband within the Churchill plot at St Martin's Church, Bladon, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Since 24 September 1982, with the death of her sister Sarah, she had been the last surviving child of Winston Churchill.

Six months after her death, on 17 December 2014, Sotheby's London auctioned 255 items out of her collection on behalf of her heirs, including paintings by and memorabilia attached to her father. According to Sotheby's, the sale "realised an outstanding total of £15,441,822, well above pre-sale expectations of £3.6-5.5 million."[14]


Christopher and Mary Soames in Lenzerheide, February 1947

Mary Soames married the Conservative politician Christopher Soames (later created Baron Soames) in 1947 and they had five children.[15]

  • The Rt. Hon. Sir Nicholas Soames (12 February 1948). He married Catherine N. Weatherall on 4 June 1981 and they were divorced in 1988. They have one son. He married Serena Mary Smith on 21 December 1993. They have two children, a son and a daughter.
  • The Hon. Emma Mary Soames (6 September 1949). She married James MacManus on 4 July 1981 and they were divorced in 1989.
  • The Hon. Jeremy Bernard Soames (25 May 1952). He married Susanna Keith in 1978. They have three children.
  • The Hon. Charlotte Clementine Soames (17 July 1954). She married Richard Hambro in 1973 and they were divorced in 1982. They have one daughter. She married William Peel, 3rd Earl Peel on 15 April 1989. They have one daughter.
  • The Hon. Rupert Christopher Soames (18 May 1959). He married Camilla Rose Dunne in 1988. They have three children.


Coat of arms of Mary Soames
Lady of the Garter since 2005
A coronet of a Baroness
Gules, a chevron Or, between in chief two hammers of the last and in base two wing Argent; impaled with quarterly, first and fourth Sable a Lion rampant Argent, overall on a quarter of the last a cross Gules; second and third grandquarterly 1st and 4th Argent 2nd and 3rd Gules a fret Or overall a bend Sable charged with three escallops Argent; in chief an escutcheon Argent a cross Gules thereon an inescutcheon Azure three fleurs-de-lys Or.
Dexter: A winged lion Argent gorged Gules. Sinister: a falcon Or holding a cord Gules and Argent.
Spanish: Faithful but Unfortunate
The Order of the Garter circlet.
The Order of the British Empire Commander's neck badge (Civil).[16]
  Lady Soames's Garter banner at St Martin's Church, Bladon


Books written by Mary Soames (titles may vary between UK and US editions):

  • Clementine Churchill: The Biography of a Marriage (1979)
  • Family Album: A Personal Selection from Four Generations of Churchills (1982)
  • The Profligate Duke: George Spencer Churchill, Fifth Duke of Marlborough, and His Duchess (1987)[17]
  • Winston Churchill: His Life as a Painter (1990)
  • Speaking For Themselves: The Private Letters of Sir Winston and Lady Churchill (1999)
  • Clementine Churchill: The Revised and Updated Biography (2005)
  • A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston and Clementine Churchill's Youngest Child (2012)


  1. ^ "Lady Mary Soames, Winston Churchill's daughter, dies". BBC News. 1 June 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  2. ^ Wrigley, Chris. (2002). Winston Churchill: A biographical companion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. pp. 123–125. ISBN 978-0-87436-990-8.
  3. ^ "No. 37025". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 April 1945. p. 1903.
  4. ^ David Reynolds Obituary: Lady Soames, The Guardian, 1 June 2014
  5. ^ "Mary Soames: biography". Random House Group. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  6. ^ Soames, Mary (2012). A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston Churchill's Youngest Child. New York: Random House. ISBN 0679645187. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  7. ^ "No. 48212". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 1980. p. 8.
  8. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs, Lady Soames". BBC. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  9. ^ "Queen dines with her prime ministers". BBC News. 29 April 2002.
  10. ^ "No. 57622". The London Gazette. 25 April 2005. p. 5363.
  11. ^ "The Queen [...] today held a Chapter of the Most Noble Order of the Garter [...] Her Majesty invested the Baroness Soames with the Insignia of a Lady Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter." The Court Circular 13 June 2005.
  12. ^ Mary Soames, daughter of Winston Churchill, dies at 91 - The Washington Post
  13. ^ "Lady Soames, Winston Churchill's last surviving child, dies aged 91". The Daily Telegraph. 1 June 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  14. ^ "Auction Results: Daughter of History: Mary Soames and the Legacy of Churchill". Sotheby's. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Soames [née Spencer Churchill], Mary, Lady Soames (1922–2014), author and public servant". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.109451. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  16. ^ The Heraldry Gazette. New Series 105 (September 2007), pp.1-2. ISSN 0437-2980
  17. ^ This book engages itself with the gardens in Blenheim and Whiteknights.

External links