SCULPTOR Hamish Mackie is hoping cinema goers inspired by Churchill movie Darkest Hour will visit Blenheim Palace to see a bust he has created of the war leader.

The artist, better known for his wildlife sculptures, was delighted when the Duke of Marlborough bought the bronze bust after spotting it on display at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

Mr Mackie, who lives near the palace, is hoping fans of Darkest Hour, the movie in which Gary Oldman plays Churchill during 1940, will inspire them to visit the Woodstock stately home.

Mr Mackie said: “Now that Darkest Hour is out in cinemas, I hope people will be encouraged to visit Blenheim Palace and see my sculpture of Sir Winston Churchill in the great man’s birthplace.”

The palace is the Duke of Marlborough’s ancestral home and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The 42cm bronze bust is cast in a traditional style and shows Britain’s most famous leader in reflective mood.

It is understood that the Duke of Marlborough paid about £9,500 for the bust.

Mr Mackie added: “I knew I had to communicate more than just his likeness.”

The sculptor studied hundreds of photographs of Churchill, watched footage of him speaking, and conducted research at Blenheim Palace.

He also found the 1941 photograph by Yousuf Karsh, which appears on the new £5 note, inspirational.

Mr Mackie added: “I kept thinking about the monumental decisions Churchill made during the war.

“I wanted to capture his spirit as well as his instantly recognisable features.

“He is bearing the heavy responsibility for leading his country during the darkest hour, but I hope in his face I have also shown the kindness of the man beneath.”

The sculpture is now housed in the Winston Churchill exhibition.

A spokesman said: “We are delighted to be able to have this bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the palace for our many visitors to see.”