Clarissa Eden

The Countess of Avon
Clarissa Eden at Oxford University.jpg
Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
6 April 1955 – 10 January 1957
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byClementine Churchill
Succeeded byLady Dorothy Macmillan
Personal details
Anne Clarissa Spencer-Churchill

(1920-06-28) 28 June 1920 (age 98)
Cromwell Road, Kensington, England
Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon
(m. 1952; died 1977)
RelativesSpencer-Churchill family

Anne Clarissa Eden, Countess of Avon (née Spencer-Churchill; born 28 June 1920) is the widow of Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon (1897–1977), who was UK Prime Minister from 1955–1957. She married Eden in 1952, becoming Lady Eden in 1954 when he was made a Knight of the Garter, and then becoming Countess of Avon in 1961 on her husband's elevation to the peerage. She is also the niece of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Her memoir, sub-titled From Churchill to Eden, was published in 2007 under the name of Clarissa Eden.

Since the death of Mary Wilson, Baroness Wilson of Rievaulx on 6 June 2018, Lady Avon is currently the oldest living wife of a UK Prime Minister.


She was born in 1920, the daughter of Major Jack Spencer-Churchill (1880–1947), the younger brother of Winston Churchill, by his marriage to Lady Gwendoline ("Goonie") Bertie (1885–1941), a daughter of the 7th Earl of Abingdon, who had been married in 1908. She is thus a niece of Winston Churchill, who was Prime Minister during the Second World War, and a granddaughter of Lord Randolph Churchill, Chancellor of the Exchequer 1886–87, and his wife the American society beauty Jennie Jerome. Her paternal great-grandfather was the 7th Duke of Marlborough and her maternal great-great-grandfather, the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry,[1] half-brother of the 2nd Marquess, who, as Viscount Castlereagh was Foreign Secretary during the Congress of Vienna of 1815 that followed the Napoleonic Wars.


Jack Churchill, born in 1880, became an army officer and served with distinction in the Boer War, after which he returned to civilian life, having been found a position as a stockbroker by the financier Sir Ernest Cassel. At the time this was considered an unsuitable career for a gentleman, and in 1907 his proposed marriage to the "vivacious"[2] Lady Gwendoline had to be postponed because her mother thought him too poor. Though self-effacing and inoffensive, a good deal of unfounded rumour attached to him as a young man (as it did to much of the Churchill clan, although in some cases for better reason): among other things, it was suggested that his natural father was the fifth Earl of Roden (or, less plausibly, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Britain, Count Karl Kinsky[3]) and that he had murdered Lord Percy, heir to the Duke of Northumberland, who had died in mysterious circumstances in 1909 and was whispered to have been the lover of Clementine Hozier, whom Winston Churchill married in 1908.[4] It appears also that Winston had proposed marriage to Lady Gwendoline, who had turned him down in favour of his brother.[5] In the 1920s, the mere fact that his brother was a stockbroker caused some awkwardness when Winston was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Jack Churchill fought again in the First World War and was awarded both the Croix de Guerre and the Légion d'Honneur.

Clarissa Spencer-Churchill's elder brothers were Johnnie (1909–1992), an artist, and Henry Winston (known as Peregrine) (1913–2002).

The ancestry of Clarissa Spencer-Churchill in three generations
Clarissa Spencer-Churchill, Lady Eden (Countess of Avon 1961) Father:
John Strange Spencer-Churchill DSO TD
Paternal Grandfather:
Rt. Hon. Lord Randolph Henry Spencer-Churchill
Paternal Great-grandfather:
John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Lady Frances Vane-Tempest-Stewart
Paternal Grandmother:
Jeanette ("Jennie") Jerome
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Leonard Jerome
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Clara Hall
Lady Gwendoline Bertie ("Goonie") (married John Churchill 1908)
Maternal Grandfather:
Montagu Bertie, 7th Earl of Abingdon
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Montagu Bertie, 6th Earl of Abingdon
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Elizabeth Harcourt
Maternal Grandmother:
Gwendoline Mary Dormer
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Lt.-Gen. the Hon. James Charlemagne Dormer
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Ella Francis Catherine Alison
Other Languages
français: Clarissa Eden
português: Clarissa Eden
Simple English: Clarissa Eden