Exploring Neville Chamberlain’s legacy 79 years after his death

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Author Nicholas Milton was at The Croft School on Tuesday to present his book to Principal Lyndall Thornton, with Sam Thornton, left, and Headmaster Marcus Cook

With Remembrance Sunday this weekend, local author Nicholas Milton’s new book on Neville Chamberlain seems especially timely – more so as today (Saturday) marks the 79th anniversary of Chamberlain’s death.

The book Neville Chamberlain’s Legacy: Hitler, Munich and the Path to War by the author Nicholas redefines Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s legacy and his place in history. Still best known for waving his ‘piece of paper’ at Heston airport and declaring ‘peace for our time’, Chamberlain’s name has now become synonymous with his controversial policy of appeasement.

Neville Chamberlain pictured in 1923

Author Nicholas thinks the politician and conservationist’s memory should be better honoured; and at the launch of his biography at the Houses of Parliament earlier last month proposed a tribute to his conservation work be erected in St James’s Park to coincide with the 80th anniversary next year. This has was backed by Chris Packham, Crispin Truman, of the Campaign for Rural England, and Chamberlain’s family.

Nicholas says: “Chamberlain had a lifelong fascination with natural history, early in his life specialising in the study of lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). During his youth he spent several years in the Bahamas and collecting specimens there he discovered a new species to science which was named after him – the Chamberlain’s Yellow butterfly. As an aspiring MP entering Parliament after the First World War Chamberlain helped to create the Campaign to Protect Rural England and The Wildlife Trusts, championing their cause at the very highest level of government.”

When he entered 10 Downing Street in 1937 Chamberlain took his passion for natural history and birdwatching with him, putting up bird boxes in the garden and identifying the birds and moths he found there. Initially mocked by senior civil servants, Chamberlain’s passion for natural history soon became infectious and officials would send him reports of the birds they saw around Downing Street. To escape the pressure cooker environment in Number 10, Chamberlain also went for a walk nearly every day in nearby St James’s Park looking for birds, often taking his wife or his officials with him.

For more on this story see this week’s Stratford Herald.

Author Nicholas Milton will be signing copies of Neville Chamberlain’s Legacy – Hitler, Munich and the Path to War at Stratford Waterstones on 24th November, 3pm to 4pm. You can buy copies of the book online at: www.nick-milton.com