Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965) was an influential leader who lived in an era when the average height of a British man was no more than 5'7" (170.2 cm) tall.
On the one side, Churchill had a fuller figure and walked with a slightly stooped posture, making him appear shorter than he really was. On the flip side though, he regularly wore top hats that would add inches onto his appearance!
So, when he held a straight posture, took off his hat and put it on the table, how tall was he really?
Winston Churchill was an average height man for his time, standing 5'6.75" (168.9 cm) tall at his peak and when fully straight. He did however lose height in later years and walked with a stooped posture, and is regularly pictured with his wife who was taller than him, he could appear shorter than average height for the time.
Height on Paper
On Winston's passport aged 43, he was listed at 5'9" tall. This may have been either a measurement while he was wearing some very large heeled shoes, or self-reported.
Either way, this is not his accurate barefoot height, and to my knowledge, he has never been described as 5'9" or even 5'8".
There are comprehensive portraits of Churchill in various biographies, portraying his life events in accurate detail, yet his height varies each time. However, this does give a rough guide to the height range that he fell into.
Winston Churchill Soldier: The military life of a gentleman at war, by Douglas S. Russell
Reporting Churchill in his younger years at 18, that when he arrived at Sandhurst Military Academy he stood at "five feet six and seven-tenths inches tall and was of slender build".
This is a very specific account of his height and was most likely an accurate measurement of him in his younger years. I am inclined to use this as his peak height.
Churchill, by Roy Jenkins
In this biography of Winston Churchill, he is described as "5'7".
Winston Churchill, by John Perry
In this biography, Churchill is described as "just under five feet eight"
Winston Churchill, by Janice Hamilton
This biography describes Churchill's height as "He was short - five foot six and a half"
So what to believe?
His height in biographies ranges anywhere from 5'6.5" to just under 5'8". This is a sensible height range he could appear in person, most likely being closer to 5'6.5" when barefoot and 5'8" in shoes.
Next to World Leaders of The Time
Considering Height Loss
Like other political leaders, as time goes by gradual height loss occurs. By his time in office, aged 71, Churchill would have lost around half an inch of height from his peak years. Most of the pics I have found are from his later years in office where a slight height had already occurred, however, this loss will be taken into consideration for the final verdict.
Joseph Stalin 5'5.5" (166.4 cm)
The Soviet political leader Stalin was under average height for his time. When the two are next to each other it is clear that Churchill stands a clear 1-1.5 inches taller than him. It has also been mentioned that Stalin sometimes wore lifts in his shoes to make him appear taller, but this cannot be validated.
Therefore, next to Stalin Churchill looks 5'6.5"-5'7" tall.
Harry S. Truman ( 5'8" 172.8 cm)
Standing next to reported 5'8" American President Harry Truman, Churchill looks around 1 inch shorter in the majority of pics.
This places Churchill around the 5'7" mark.
Charles de Gaulle 6'4.5" (194.3 cm)
There is no doubting that then French Prime Minister Charles de Gaulle was a very tall man for his day. When standing next to Charles, the top of Churchill's head comes up to around his chin level.
The average length from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head is usually anywhere from 9-10 inches, (mine measures 9.5 inches), but in proportion to his body frame Charles seems to have a longer chin to top of head length that would most likely measure around 10 inches.
So this puts Churchill at 5'6.5-5'7" tall.
Height of His Statues
I have picked 2 stand-out statues here. Similar to John Lennon, his statues are not representative of his real height.
1: In the City of Westminster, London, there is a statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square that measures 12 feet (365.8 cm) tall.
2: There is also a statue of him in Woodley Park, Washington DC, measuring 6'9.9 feet (208 cm) high.
What to Believe
Through photo evidence and one particularly accurate biographic description of a military measurement 5'6 7/8ths it becomes clear that Churchill stood somewhere in the region of 5'6.5"-5'7" inches tall when barefooted.
At his peak height I believe he stood just under 5'8" in shoes, and barefooted he would have been in the region of 5'6.75" (168.9 cm) tall. However, in later years and by the time he was first in office aged 71, he fell down to 5'6.25" (168.3 cm) the majority of the day.
Heights Connected to Winston Churchill
- Clementine Churchill, Wife, 5'7.5" (171.5 cm)
- Randolph Churchill, Son, 6'1" (185.4 cm)
- Sarah Churchill, Daughter, 5'5" (165.1 cm)
- Diana Churchill, Daughter, 5'4.5 (163.8 cm)
- Adolf Hitler, Mortal Enemy, 5'8.5" (174 cm)