Sir Winston Churchill to feature on new banknote


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

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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




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  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    Cool. I like the idea.

    Now is this a ploy topic to get us used to past leaders being emblazoned on our currency so that othet less liked figures will be more accepted?

    So who is being considered next?


  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    I hope I live to the see the day when we have Ed Miliband gracing a red back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    Our greatest PM .....and a disastrous Chancellor of the Exchequer, who took us back onto the gold standard, which did to our economy what the euro is doing to the PIGS............better choose someone less contentious, like Florence Nightingale (again), or whoever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    On a certain website I wont name beginning with A that sells almost anything you can get toilet rolls of £50 notes with Gordon Browns face on them. Now theres an appropriate thank you. Churchill did what was necessary regardless of the cost. If only current politicians where able to do that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    @ 394.thelevellers - half a million? Get your facts right, the independent investigations put the number at around 25,000, you are using the war propaganda numbers.

  • Comment number 409.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    I we were sensible we would note WASTE money on this kind of dumb exercise but would be embracing the Euro and cutting manufacturing costs. However the "Johnny foreigner" and "little Englanders" are still under the misguided thought that the pound means something!!!
    Large business deal in nothing but euros and/or US dollars and the pound is seen as useful as a pork pie at Tel Aviv wedding

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    Good decision - Churchill was one of only two 20th century UK politicians of world class stature. The other was, of course, Thatcher - I hope Maggie will be on a note before too long...

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    In todays muticultural society, isn't it about time that the Bank of England introduced UK banknotes featuring someone representative of the UK; an ethnic person? It is 2013 after all.'

    absolutely. The fact that no black or Asian Brit has ever been featured on a banknote is disgusting. a sad commentary on the institutional racism that is still rampant in Britain, even in 2013

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    It should have been Maggie but Winston will do well enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    If handed on at a bank or shop - I will refuse to accept it. They can give me change in coins instead.
    I will not be part and parcel to TORY Propaganda!
    We have enough of it as it is, disgustingly sicking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    Th*tch*r should be on monopoly money as she unleashed the greed and self-importance that led to an economy based on monopoly money and an abundance of "get out of jail free" cards for the elite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    following #358 wouldn't it be great if Sir Tim Berners Lee was honoured. Now...rather than after death as usual. We could all send said note to the Olympic Ceremony planks at NBC [USA] who asked their audience to google his name as they had no clue who he was.

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    390. Jaw dropping truth - please stop. You're so transparent that it's painful. I wouldn't be surprised in fact if you're the same person who trolled under the names 'neiuw divil' and 'Tsunami of Logic' a while back, or maybe 'Roberto Gomez Bolanos.'

    It's tiresome. If you're not willing to participate in the debate then leave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    Why not. But will there be a "black dog" lurking in the background somewhere?

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    Why has my post at 274 been removed? I was describing how currency has traditionally been used for social control in answer to a challenge from Respighi?

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    @339. I once listened to George Galloways radio station.. I dont like the guy, but some of his phone ins are humorous. Anyways, This guy phones in and says "we must remember, Iran brutally attacked Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war". Galloway amazed say, "i cant believe you said that, Iraq invaded Iran and was defending themselves". The guy says, "yes but Iran was brutal". Are you that guy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    Shows how the government are thinking - I don't think they chose the person as much as the words - "I have nothing to offer you but blood, sweat, toil and tears." - This will be printed on every fiver you handle to get it through to you that that is all that you will be offered in the future by the elite - Orwellian if you ask me! What's next - Marie Antoinette and "let them eat cake" £10 note?

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    Why do I suspect this is a first step to getting Thatcher on a bank note?

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    It is always good to see a Tory on our banknotes. They are the backbone of our nation. Hopefully,,in 50 years time, Thatcher also will adorn our currency.


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