Winston Churchill is best known as the war-time Prime Minister who led Britain through survival to victory. Whilst constituting the most celebrated period of his political life, the five years of his premiership in the 1940s represent only a fraction of his overall Parliamentary career.
Churchill was a Member of Parliament for just under 64 years, between 1900 and 1922 and again from 1924 to his retirement in 1964 at the age of 89. During this time he represented five constituencies – Woodford, Epping, Dundee, Manchester North West and Oldham.
Although both his continuous length of service and age on departure are impressive feats, neither are record breakers. The oldest ever serving MP was Francis Knollys, the MP for Reading, who was either 97 or 98 (records being distinctly hazier in the 17th century) when he died in 1648.
Charles Pelham Villiers holds the prize for the longest continuously-serving MP. He was elected in 1835 and remained an MP continuously for over 62 years until his death on January 16, 1898, aged 96 years 13 days. For contrast, the current Father of the House is Sir Peter Tapsell with 44 years of continuous service.
In a varied political career, Churchill held the office of Prime Minister twice (between 1940 and 1946 and 1951 and 1955), was Chancellor of the Exchequer (between 1924 and 1929), Home Secretary (from 1910 and 1911), President of the Board of Trade (between 1908 and 1910), First Lord of the Admiralty (from 1911 to 1916 and again from 1939 to 1940), Minister of Munitions (in 1917) and Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air (between 1919 and 1921) and Secretary of State for the Colonies (from 1921 to 1922).
He was a Conservative MP in 1900 and crossed the floor to become a Liberal MP in 1904. He would cross back again in 1924 to rejoin the Conservative Party, commenting that “anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat”.