Stone and lead ashtray.

Contributed by Gregory Hargrove

Stone and lead ashtray.

On 10/11th May 1941, German bombers destroyed the House of Commons Chamber. My father, crippled in an accident and so unfit for military service, was in charge of demolishing the ruin. Sir Winston Churchill asked my father to carefully dismantle the archway from the Members' Lobby to the Chamber, badly scarred by bomb fragments, so it could be rebuilt later just as it was, as a reminder of the event. My father personally did this & the archway was later put back in its place, known from then on as the Churchill arch. The rubble, burnt wood & lead from the roof (which had melted & formed random lumps on the floor) was trucked off to a site somewhere in Essex. BUT, some of the stone & lead was made into ashtrays, which were widely advertised for sale, in particular in America, the proceeds going to a charity for victims of the war & some, I believe, towards the rebuilding of the Chamber. It was reopened in 1950. Sir Winston gave one of the ashtrays to my father & I inherited it from him. It reminds me of the horror & waste of war but also of my father, who was in charge of the demolition of dozens of war damaged churches & other historic buildings all over the UK, especially London.

Comments are closed for this object

Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site’s House Rules please Flag This Object.

About this object

Click a button to explore other objects in the timeline


Late 1940s


View more objects from people in Beds Herts Bucks.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.