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Winston Churchill will feature on the new design of the £5 banknote which will enter circulation in 2016, the Bank of England has announced.

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

Sir Winston 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.

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 Mervyn King at Winston Churchill’s former home of Chartwell, in Westerham, Kent, UK.

“Our banknotes acknowledge the life and work of great Britons. Sir Winston Churchill was a truly great British leader, orator and writer,” Mervyn King 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 of England said might be reviewed, are for Winston Churchill to appear on the new £5 note to be issued in 2016.

Winston Churchill will feature on the new design of the £5 banknote which will enter circulation in 2016

Winston Churchill will feature on the new design of the £5 banknote which will enter circulation in 2016

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

The artwork will also include:

  • Winston 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 Winston Churchill was awarded in 1953

Mervyn King 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.

“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 authorized 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.

In May, a new 5-euro note will be put into circulation by the European Central Bank (ECB).

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

The image of Winston 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.

Winston 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, Winston 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 honor for the family.

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

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Big Ben will be silent for the duration of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has announced.

John Bercow told MPs this would be “an appropriate means of indicating our sentiments” during the occasion.

There was a “profound dignity through silence,” he added.

The silence will last throughout events on Wednesday, covering the procession from Westminster and the ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Big Ben will be silent for the duration of Margaret Thatcher's funeral

Big Ben will be silent for the duration of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral

The chiming of Big Ben, the name often used to describe the Great Bell, the Great Clock and the Elizabeth Tower – clock tower – in the Palace of Westminster, is one of London’s most famous sounds.

Big Ben has not been silent as a mark of respect since the funeral of former PM Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, although it was out of action for repairs for a period during the 1970s.

In a statement to the Commons, John Bercow said he had received “direct and indirect representations” over the best way for Parliament to mark the funeral of Margaret Thatcher, who died last week aged 87.

John Bercow added: “I’ve considered all of these, but I concluded that the most appropriate means of indicating our sentiments would be for the chimes of Big Ben and the chimes of the Great Clock to be silenced for the duration of the funeral proceedings.”

He also said: “I believe there can be a profound dignity and deep respect expressed through silence.”

Responding for the government, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said it was a “very dignified and respectful gesture on behalf of Parliament”.

“As you know, Lady Thatcher held Parliament in very great reverence in her time both in this House and in the Lords,” he said.

“I am confident that Lady Thatcher’s family will take it very much in that spirit and be very appreciative of what you have decided.”

Margaret Thatcher has been accorded a ceremonial funeral with military honors, one step down from a state funeral.

A military rehearsal of the procession took place in central London during the early hours of Monday morning.

On Wednesday, Margaret Thatcher’s coffin will initially travel by hearse from the Palace of Westminster to the Church of St Clement Danes – the Central Church of the RAF – on the Strand.

The coffin will then be transferred to the gun carriage and taken in procession to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Big Ben Facts:

  • The Great Bell, better known as Big Ben, is 2.2 m tall, has a diameter of 2.7 m and weighs 13.7 tonnes
  • The hammer which strikes the bell weighs 200 kg
  • When struck it chimes the musical note E
  • It was cast in the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, and installed on 10 April, 1858. It took 18 hours to lift it into the clock tower’s belfry
  • The chimes of Big Ben were first recorded and broadcast by BBC engineer AG      Dryland on New Year’s Eve 1923
  • It was out of action from 09:45 GMT until midnight on the day of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral

Secret wartime papers exchanged between MI5 officials reveal that the Nazis’ plans to conquer Britain included a deadly assault on Sir Winston Churchill with exploding chocolate.

Adolf Hitler’s bomb-makers coated explosive devices with a thin layer of rich dark chocolate, then packaged it in expensive-looking black and gold paper.

The Germans planned to use secret agents working in Britain to discreetly place the bars of chocolate – branded as Peter’s Chocolate – among other luxury items taken on trays into the dining room used by the War Cabinet during the Second World War.

The lethal slabs of confection were packed with enough explosives to kill anyone within several metres.

But Hitler’s plot was foiled by British spies who discovered they were being made and tipped off one of MI5’s most senior intelligence chiefs, Lord Victor Rothschild.

Nazis’ plans to conquer Britain included a deadly assault on Sir Winston Churchill with exploding chocolate

Nazis’ plans to conquer Britain included a deadly assault on Sir Winston Churchill with exploding chocolate

Lord Victor Rothschild, a scientist in peace time as well as a key member of the Rothschild banking family, immediately typed a letter to a talented illustrator seconded to his unit asking him to draw poster-size images of the chocolate to warn the public to be on the look-out for the bars.

His letter to the artist, Laurence Fish, is dated May 4, 1943 and was written from his secret bunker in Parliament Street, central London.

The letter, marked “Secret”, reads:

“Dear Fish,

“I wonder if you could do a drawing for me of an explosive slab of chocolate.

“We have received information that the enemy are using pound slabs of chocolate which are made of steel with a very thin covering of real chocolate.

“Inside there is high explosive and some form of delay mechanism… When you break off a piece of chocolate at one end in the normal way, instead of it falling away, a piece of canvas is revealed stuck into the middle of the piece which has been broken off and a ticking into the middle of the remainder of the slab.

“When the piece of chocolate is pulled sharply, the canvas is also pulled and this initiates the mechanism.

“I enclose a very poor sketch done by somebody who has seen one of these.

‘It is wrapped in the usual sort of black paper with gold lettering, the variety being PETERS.

“Would it be possible for you to do a drawing of this, one possibly with the paper half taken off revealing one end and another with the piece broken off showing the canvas.

“The text should indicate that this piece together with the attached canvas is pulled out sharply and that after a delay of seven seconds the bomb goes off.”

The letter was found by Laurence Fish’s wife, journalist Jean Bray, as she sorted through his possessions following the artist’s death, aged 89, in 2009.

Jean Bray has spent the past two years putting together a book of her late husband’s work – Pick Up A Pencil. The Work Of Laurence Fish.