Sir Winston Churchill to feature on new banknote


Luisa Baldini has a close-up look at the note design

Related Stories

Sir Winston Churchill will feature on the new design of a banknote which will enter circulation in 2016, the Bank of England has announced.

The wartime leader's image is planned to feature on the reverse of the new £5 note, together with one of his most celebrated quotations.

Churchill was chosen owing to his place as "a hero of the entire free world", said Bank governor Sir Mervyn King.

The current face of the £5 note is social reformer Elizabeth Fry.

'Truly great leader'

A wide range of historical characters appears on the reverse of Bank of England banknotes, with Elizabeth Fry the only woman among the current crop.

The Bank of England governor has the final say about who appears on a banknote, although the public can make suggestions. The latest addition has been announced by Sir Mervyn at Churchill's former home of Chartwell, in Westerham, Kent.

Current Bank of England banknote images

  • £5: Elizabeth Fry, social reformer noted for her work to improve conditions for women prisoners
  • £10: Charles Darwin, the scientist who laid the foundations of the theory of evolution
  • £20: Adam Smith, one of the fathers of modern economics
  • £50: Matthew Boulton and James Watt, who brought the steam engine into the textile manufacturing process. They are replacing notes featuring the first governor of the Bank of England, Sir John Houblon

"Our banknotes acknowledge the life and work of great Britons. Sir Winston Churchill was a truly great British leader, orator and writer," Sir Mervyn said.

"Above that, he remains a hero of the entire free world. His energy, courage, eloquence, wit and public service are an inspiration to us all."

Current plans, which the Bank said might be reviewed, are for Churchill to appear on the new £5 note to be issued in 2016.

Security measures

The design includes a portrait of the former prime minister, adapted from a photograph taken by Yousuf Karsh on 30 December 1941. He is the only politician from the modern era to feature on a banknote.

The artwork will also include:

  • Churchill's declaration "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat" which came in a speech in the Commons on 13 May 1940
  • A view of Westminster and the Elizabeth Tower from the South Bank
  • The Great Clock showing three o'clock - the approximate time of the Commons speech
  • A background image of the Nobel Prize for literature, which he was awarded in 1953

Sir Mervyn said that this was an appropriate choice given the country's economic difficulties.

"We do not face the challenges faced by Churchill's generation. But we have our own," he said.

Sir Mervyn King: "Perhaps the note itself will become known as a Winston"

"The spirit of those words remains as relevant today as it was to my parents' generation who fought for the survival of our country and freedom under Churchill's leadership."

The Bank of England issues nearly a billion banknotes each year, and withdraws almost as many from circulation.

Notes are redesigned on a relatively frequent basis, in order to maintain security and prevent forgeries. Other security features include threads woven into the paper and microlettering.

The most recent new design from the Bank of England was the £50 note, which entered circulation in November. This features Matthew Boulton and James Watt who were most celebrated for bringing the steam engine into the textile manufacturing process.

While Bank of England notes are generally accepted throughout the UK, three banks in Scotland and four in Northern Ireland are authorised to issue banknotes.

Pharmacologist Sir Alexander Fleming, poet Robert Burns, and tyre inventor John Boyd Dunlop are among those who appear on these notes. One commemorative £5 note featuring football great George Best proved so popular that the limited edition of one million sold out in 10 days.

A portrait of Europa is seen next to new and old five-euro notes in Frankfurt, 10 January Greek goddess Europa is appearing on the new five-euro note

In May, a new five-euro note will be put into circulation by the European Central Bank.

It features an image of the Greek goddess Europa, which comes from a vase in the Louvre Museum in Paris.


The image of Churchill has featured on currency before.

He was the first commoner to be shown on a British coin when he appeared on the 1965 crown, or five shilling piece.

Churchill, elected as a Conservative MP in 1900, served as chancellor in Stanley Baldwin's government.

He replaced Neville Chamberlain to become the wartime British prime minister in May 1940 until 1945. He returned to office in 1951, and retired in 1955, aged 80.

"The Bank is privileged to be able to celebrate the significant and enduring contribution Sir Winston Churchill made to the UK, and beyond," said Chris Salmon, chief cashier of the Bank of England, whose signature will also appear on the banknote.

Sir Nicholas Soames, Churchill's grandson and MP for Mid Sussex, said: "I think it is a wonderful tribute to him and an appropriate time. I can't think of any more marvellous thing that would have pleased him more."

He described the move as a great honour for the family.

Who's been on Bank of England notes?

Source: Bank of England, Notes issued and withdrawn since 1980

Famous Briton




Note from


Isaac Newton






Duke of Wellington


Soldier and statesman











Elizabeth Fry






Florence Nightingale


Nurse & campaigner




Charles Dickens






Charles Darwin






William Shakespeare






Michael Faraday






Sir Edward Elgar






Adam Smith






Sir Christopher Wren






Sir John Houblon





Boulton & Watt

Matthew Boulton and James Watt

1728-1809, 1736-1819

Entrepreneur and inventor




More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    We really do need £50 notes to become more widely circulated. £20 doesn't buy a lot these days.

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    @137 "I'd have preferred Alan Turing to be the new face of the £5."

    We all have our personal heroes, Alan Turing is mine.

    Saved countless lives in World War II without firing a shot.
    Genius mathematician and Father of modern computing.
    Great marathon runner to boot.

    Any tribute cannot do full justice to the man.

    Also, great to see Churchill on the fiver.

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    He did well during WW2. However, do we want to celebrate a well known racist in this way. He believed in white supremacy, eugenics and supported Apartheid in SA etc
    He was a leader, as far as he was concerned it was Great Britain frist, last, always. It was how we got an empire, we put ourselves 1st over anything. Thatcher had a similar outlook. If it benefited GB then that was that

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    286. Well said. Yet another man. But then it will have been chosen by a group of men no doubt. There are any women who have been successful in history but are generally overlooked as they didn't seek the limelight or their achievements were claimed by men. Rosalind Franklin, Caroline Herschel, Jocelyn Bell spring to mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    262.Karen - If you don't like the person on the banknote then what a good opportunity to add your artistic talents to the image.
    Section 12 of the Currency and Banknotes Act 1928 says you'd be liable for a fine if you did so though!

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    The time will come when we have people like ,Will I Am, and Mrs Miggins from the pie shop in Blackadder on our bank notes..

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    How about JEREMY CLARKSON, £5 does not last long now, gone in a flash, just like JEREMY, in a car.

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    Bessie Braddock: “Sir, you are drunk.”
    Churchill: “Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober.”

    The right man in the right place at the right time.

    Shows the current shower at Westminster what leadership is all about. Although he did also say that success was the ability to go from failure to failure without loss of enthusiam.

    So perhaps our PM is a success after all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    @ 276

    Actually it wasn't political correctness gone mad. It was a subtle combination of health and safety, single mothers, benefit scroungers and muslims that conspired to rid our classrooms of Churchill.

    Or maybe it was just that there were more pressing issues to cover in the curriculum. There's no way to be sure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    238 Blueberry: Churchill spent a lot of his career in politics as a member of the Liberal Party and proclaimed himself to be a liberal. So maybe you should remember not to vote Liberal next time instead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    This is ridiculous about putting Thatcher on the New Five Pound Note,
    we already have her on toilet paper so stop ridiculing her please

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    The BBC have done it again! Offered this news item up for comment so that all the lefties can slag off a great patriot.
    Think about it !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    Most of the world is changing to polymer banknotes [plastic] there are reports we are going to try plastic £5 notes will this happen with the new fiver ive got Australian ones in my collection they are quite good
    and very tough of cause Australia and Brazil are the leaders in this field

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    (267 LeftLibertarian:)

    (Churchill a Career : Imperialist, Oppressor , War Monger, War Leader: Gallant Ally: Imperialist Reactionary : Senile Former Politician : National Hero.)

    You forgot Women's suffrage opposser

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    Churchill, our greatest PM who stood up to Hitler and said enough was enough.

    He is more than worthy to grace our bank notes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    Here I thought it was going to be the new £100.00 note

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Great choice of person for the note. A shame that showing him naturally smoking and drinking is frowned upon these days - I wonder how he would have viewed that :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    Re274. I completely disagree and will leave it there. We shall walk our own paths and retain our individual views.

    But just as I observed your right to speak I wish you had done the same and not had my earlier post removed. These things must work both ways my friend.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    My only concern is that the £5 note will be the next one that we get rid of.
    Churchill should be promoted to the £50 and move all the others down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    Stop mentioning Maggie Thatcher on notes PLEASE!! 1. Its too recent in history. If Newton was put onto money in his times religion would have burned everyone in possession of it. 2. Its too controversial. Maggie gained back power from communist unions at the cost of an entire industry and communities. 3. She died just weeks ago! Forget it please.


Page 41 of 56


More Business stories



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.