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"Some day, some year, there will be old men and women whose pride it will be to say: 'I lived in Churchill's time'." ~ Sir Robert Menzies.
If you thought the greatest tragedy to befall a Conservative party conference was in 1984 with the bombing of the Grand Hotel you'd be right, but a close second was surely at their 1947 one. Winston Churchill's beloved dog Rufus who had been by his master's side through WWII was run over in Brighton in 1947. Much like when Churchill himself was hit by a car in New York years earlier, I'm guessing Rufus looked the wrong way when he was crossing the road. Churchill survived to become our Coalition leader during the War, Rufus wasn't so lucky.
Had Churchill's New York accident ended differently, Chartwell would have remained unknown to the public and I would have perhaps found myself visiting the home of Eden or Attlee instead.
Perhaps one of the reasons Churchill decided to buy Chartwell in Kent is that it is perfectly situated for travelling, being only a short distance from Biggin Hill airport and not too far from London. The clincher though must have been the glorious views over the Weald of Kent which his wife Clementine adored, although she was correct in thinking that living here would be like sinking money into a black hole.
A money pit it proved to be, with the family selling the property to a group of their friends. Those friends then donated it to the National Trust and both the house, the studios where Churchill spent his spare time painting and the garden are open to the public.
You can opt just to visit the grounds - all 80 acres of them - together with the Studio, or include the house as well. When we visited recently we chose the 'all inclusive option' as despite it being so close to where I live, I hadn't visited before.
.. itself is far less imposing than I was anticipating from the outside. The Guide Book suggests there are only around 16 rooms in total in the house which are spread over three floors with only one or two rooms on each floor out of bounds. For most of us then, myself included, Chartwell would be regarded as a mansion but for a man born at Blenheim Palace with its 2000 acres this must have seemed modest although certainly not any the less attractive for that.
The National Trust have restored the rooms on show to that of it's Churchill heydays in the Thirties, although by the time Lady Churchill had left in the mid Sixties some of the downstairs rooms had been converted to bedrooms for its residents.
Perhaps as important as what is on display at Chartwell is what I had anticipated seeing. Anyone wanting to visit a home dedicated to WWII memorabilia (including Churchill's many uniforms) won't be disappointed, but at the risk of sounding unpatriotic I came away having enjoyed the smaller details more than the pageantry of the larger exhibits.
Some of the personal effects I most enjoyed (and if you walk too quickly you'll miss them) are the Visitor's Book in the hallway and the various photos. The visitors book, although under glass, contains a wonderful insight into the kind of guests that came for supper and stayed overnight. Who wouldn't want to meet Laurence of Arabia with all his wonderful robes? Certainly the Churchill children were said to be entranced by the man. Another visitor was said to be Randolph Hearst. A different time and place and there'd have been some interesting conversations about their kids. When we were there, in the spirit of the Diamond Jubilee, the book was open at the page containing the signature of Elizabeth R amongst others. It's dated in October 1952 only a few short months after the Coronation.
The photos on display around the house are a good mix of personal family ones and those of Churchill's times in office. Perhaps the political ones are well known, but not to me. Here is Churchill with Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta Conference in early 1945. Interestingly, the same scene is also played out at Chartwell by way of a large framed painting of the 'Big Three' together. Undoubtedly an important piece of history, but certainly not one that went well for many Poles who were faced with expulsion from their homeland thanks to the agreement reached there, nor for the Germans who found their country divided as a result. Perhaps the significance that it's given at Chartwell lies not just in the fact that it represents a time before Blighty became sidelined in important world matters, but the last time these three leaders were to meet. By the time of the next conference Churchill was no longer Prime Minister and Roosevelt had died. Stalin, who with his early Priesthood training should have been the most virtuous of the three leaders, carried on committing atrocities in Poland as elsewhere.
Do pay close attention to the photos though. I thought the one of Churchill posing with Charlie Chaplin was great, but The Tramp was unrecognisable.
Amongst the lavish gifts given to Mr and Mrs Churchill by various Sultans and Kings (and which include two ostentatious crystal decorations by Stalin) is a golden winkle bequeathed by the Hastings Winkle Club. It's hardly bigger than my thumb nail, and probably the smallest exhibit on display in the Museum Room. Every Winkle Club Member (or "Winkler") is obliged to carry a tiny shell which they must produce when exhorted to "Winkle Up!". Yes really. Wobetide the Winkler found wanting: they pay a forfeit. The Club made Churchill an honorary member.
Through a few other items on display in the house you get a glimpse of his life before politics. I wasn't aware he had served in the Boer War, much less that he had been a PoW who then managed to escape. In the Museum Room is a faded notice offering a reward for his re-capture during that war. Nearby rests the gold fob of a watch he gave to the man who helped him escape. A glimpse of his literary skills is in a letter on display he had written whilst a prisoner. In it he complains that "The passing of time is like watching an inebriated centipede trying to walk".
I'd also recommend looking out for one of the medallions that Churchill had made for his coalition Cabinet Ministers when his first term ended in 1945. Despite him being what the Americans might label a 'flip-flopper' in that he started his political life as a Conservative MP, only to become a Liberal, and then turning back to Conservatism, Churchill never altered in his dislike for socialism. Irregardless, he was big enough to appoint Labour MP's to his Cabinet and they were big enough to accept. I doubt our present Coalition members can look forward to similar medallions at the end of their term somehow.
My favourite room overall though has to be the Dining Room. Situated in the lower ground floor, it was built and designed for the Churchill family in the 20s with a view to seating at least twelve diners. At the rear of the house, the most striking feature though isn't it's size but the views. It has floor to ceiling windows in three of the walls and looks out onto open countryside. Not only is it light and airy, but it's less cluttered or fusty than some of the other rooms. It also has nice marble flooring which I rather liked. Of all Churchill's' paintings on display there is one in the Dining Room perhaps closest to his heart. Called Bottlescape, it was painted one Christmas. Perhaps he was playing host to some dull in-laws, but still, painting your own wine collection? Tut tut Winston.
For those who are interested in his aristocratic forebears, there is a family tree to study near the exit of the house. I probably got a better feel for Churchill's personality outside rather than in though.
Water, water, everywhere.
One of the first sights you'll see as you make your way towards the house is the large lawn leading down to the water features. I say features although Winston wasn't one for garden knick knacks. The largest of the two lakes was pretty much the creation of the man himself as the existing one had silted up. Needing diggers and railway tracks to carry away the debris, he was nothing if not persistent. Nearer the house is their Swimming Pool. Nothing fancy by today's standards, but nevertheless heated in Churchill's time. What you will see is the fourth attempt, with Churchill having to employ architects and engineers to make it work. The three earlier attempts had failed. Whether he was tenacious or stubborn, I'll bet the air was as blue as the pool occasionally.
We found in residence on the biggest lake two black swans and a family of geese. Churchill having bought two black swans from Harrods, the NT have tried to ensure there are always some living here. The two we saw are only a couple of years old and pretty feisty. We had to look on helplessly as one of them made a good attempt at drowning one of the goslings which had swum too close. There's a longstanding tradition when we visit a local park that the swans there will hiss at our Labrador. She growls back: there's a mutual dislike. I wouldn't want to bring her here.
Another small feature we almost walked straight past is the butterfly house situated between the croquet lawn and the house. A youthful Winston had been fond enough of them to think they were best collected and flattened into books. Once here though and with the help of some enlightened gardeners, butterfly larvae were obtained and grown to maturity, with who else but Churchill on hand to liberate them. The beds surrounding the Butterfly house are still given over to plants like Buddleia that the butterflies adore. Those we saw were either sleeping or not quite ready to fly their cages yet, but a nice unexpected touch by the NT.
A little cottage (don't call it a Wendy House) situated in a corner of the vegetable garden - the Churchill's like many families back then who had the means, grew as much of their own food as possible. Built for Churchill's youngest surviving daughter Mary. Yes, prior to the breakout of War and Dad's bigger commitments, Winston built it all himself! Mary was apparently so taken with it that all their visitors were marched down there for tea and scones. Mary in turn was expected to keep it clean, which involved scrubbing the tiled floor which she hated. It's small and slightly dated inside but still quite charming.
And to get an idea of the passion Churchill had for oil painting you have to visit the Studio.
Over 130 of Churchill's paintings are on display here. We were lucky to be here in time for the afternoon talk that one of the staff give twice a day. If you aren't so lucky though there are good notes which are kept in folders for visitors to look through which gives some brief detail of most of the paintings. Of all the paintings, I'm sure Coco Chanel wouldn't have been too impressed with the rather insipid outcome of her (and her lap dog) sitting for Churchill.
One interesting tale that gets recounted involves a painting by an unknown artist. Churchill had apparently been sitting painting a country scene, alongside a stranger painting the same scene. Having struck up a conversation, when they had both finished they decided to swap paintings. The stranger may have walked away with an original Churchill but his wasn't too bad by my untrained eye. Personally, I'm sure Churchill put a great deal of effort into his art, but aren't we all glad he didn't give up his day job?
Despite being someone who can easily switch off when I hear war time stories recounted, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. It's a former home where the family grew up above all else and the rooms and history attached to the house aren't presented in a stuffy, formal way. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the focus is on his life during his first term as PM though.
I thought the NT have managed to keep the admission prices reasonable and in line with other attractions. The Guide Book at £4.50 is also good value as it contains some excellent photos although there is a free pamphlet which is also useful and has a similar plan of the grounds. The staff are all volunteers and give their time for free. The ones we saw were all responsive, although from personal experience I would suggest any rucksacks on backs are kept well away from the exhibits.
~ Worth noting ~
Being over three floors, anyone with mobility issues may find the house inaccessible. Although the grounds are lovely, anyone with dodgy knees might find the rolling countryside a struggle, although it's not vertiginous.
There's not a bulldog in sight. Churchill's pooches were all poodles!
Dogs are welcome on leads in the gardens (indeed we saw several) but not in the house.
There is of course a restaurant here. Reasonably priced, I can recommend their sausage sandwiches. Their cake slices (we shared a lemon drizzle and Victoria sponge with real strawberries on top) are not only huge portions but delicious.
Please check their website before setting off. The house is closed on many Mondays and Tuesdays for the next few months.
The admission to the house is in slots of 15 minutes or so. They can't be prebooked. You get allocated tickets to the next timed admission when you arrive.
There is ample parking in the grounds, with stewards who direct you to the next available space. If you are a NT member parking is free. Not being members we had to stump up an extra £2 which I thought was cheeky.
There is a NT shop near the entrance. It sells the usual memorabilia and more general NT stuff like tea towels you'll find in all their shops. I did buy a 2013 Calendar there.
The whole property:
The Gardens, Studio and Exhibition room only:
There are slightly cheaper prices if you can arrange to visit over the winter months. If you are feeling benevolent, there is the option of gift aiding your admission prices. For an adult to this would cost an extra £1.40 to visit the whole property. Another cheekiness!
For those driving, Chartwell is not too far from the M25, using exits 5 or 6. Only 2 miles south of Westerham, fork left off B2026 after 1½ miles. The website below has further details for those wanting to travel by train or bus.
Telephone: 01732 868381
Where is Chartwell?
Chartwell house is situated in rural Kent near the beautiful countryside town of Westerham affording lovely panoramic views over the Weald of Kent.
What is so significant about Chartwell?
It was the family home of Sir Winston Churchill and his family from 1924 until his death in 1965 and it is set in beautiful landscaped gardens of which he was instrumental in designing which includes ornamental lakes, fish ponds, a croquet lawn, an apple and pear orchard and formal gardens such as the rose and herb garden.
Chartwell as previously said was the family home of Sir Winston and it is nothing at all like the formal gigantic and ostentatious Blenheim Palace where he was born. It was a simple family home where he learnt to relax and paint and pottered in his beloved garden. Dating from the 17th Century it is fairly isolated and would have given him a bolt hole to retreat to where he enjoyed landscaping the gardens and grounds and where he indulged in his passion of painting. There is a large studio situated in the grounds which used to be a small farm but converted into his art studio where he spent a lot of his time where there are some of his art works on display.
The house is situated near a road and is fronted by a large wall with an in and out driveway to the house. Admission to the house is timed to ensure that there are not too many people inside the house at any one time so that you can fully enjoy the features of the house without it being too crowded. There is a set route inside the house which takes you through the various rooms on a set route which starts off at ground level then to the upper rooms then down to the lower floors of the house which is set below the entrance level due to the houses position on a fairly steep hill.
A new wing was built which housed the upper floors containing the formal rooms including a large bedroom for his wife on the top floor, the drawing room on the middle floor and a grand dining room which gives fantastic views over the gardens and weald of Kent. The windows are particularly large allowing natural light in and giving the rooms an open and airy feeling. The rooms and walls are furnished with Churchills personal possessions and gifts given to him by his children and other dignitaries such as a crystal cockerel from President De Gaulle of France and a book of water colours of roses given to him by his children.
Entering the house through the main front door there are visitors books on display which contains the names of important and influential visitors to the house for example President Trueman the pages of which are rotated for people to see who had visited. Around the house are personal items, antique furniture and paintings some of which were painted by Winston himself including paintings of his wife Clementine and a gifted painting by Monet.
There is a display on one of the upper floors of some of Winston's formal suits including Uniforms, and a full set of clothing of the Order of the Garter and of the Lord Warden of the Cinq ports and his medals and various awards such as Cups commemorating the freedom of various towns and cities such was the esteem in which he was held. There are some large silver ornaments and personal gifts bestowed on him from various governments and leaders for his contribution to the creation of peace and in recognition of his achievements during World War II.
You can walk through his study where there is a large mahogany writing table he inherited from his father and a lectern where he would stand and read, write and prepare some of his speeches for his budgets and other major events. The Union flag that was raised in Rome on the 14th of June 1944 is also on display in his study and was given to him as a personal gift. It is his personal study and although calm and peaceful it is quite a blokey room! Whereas his wife Clementine had her own drawing room bedroom and dressing rooms where they are certainly more feminine.
The kitchens below the dining room were functional with many utensils still on display. Many of the contents of the kitchen are the original items belonging to the family. Leading out from the kitchen into a small area of photographic memorabilia then onwards to the terrace and gardens.
Churchill was not permitted to stay at Chartwell during the war due to its location and a possible strike by the Luftwaffe this was due to the Lake in front of the house which would have been an ideal reference point for the house instead he had to live in London or at Chequers but it was always his love for Chartwell that brought him back here.
Sadly he was finding it difficult to maintain this house due to its high running costs as he did not have a grand inheritance despite his prestigious birth. In 1947 a group of his friends clubbed together and bought the house for him and his family allowing him to continue to live in his beloved house for ever. When he died the house was handed over to the National trust.
Whilst the house is very comfortable it is after all a family home and not ostentatious or OTT in anyway. It certainly is not something that the normal person would live in but taking into consideration his silver spooned birth and upbringing it really is a down to earth and comfortable property.
The gardens were designed by Sir Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine and are very beautiful and peaceful with lovely garden walks. Due to its position on a fairly steep hill the grounds are tiered to allow different aspects at different levels. This also gives the impression that it is far larger than it is. There is a croquet lawn where the family and guests would play croquet in the summer months. There are little copses, nooks and crannies and arbors where the family could escape and sit in peace and tranquillity whilst enjoying the marvellous views. They are well tended with ornamental waterfalls which flow down to the ponds and lakes below. Some of the trees around the grounds are ancient beech trees some of them hundreds of years old.
There is a large pay per stay car park but it is quite steep and probably not good for people who have mobility problems. There is a drop off point nearer to the house for those in wheelchairs. Disabled visitors really only have access to the floors on the main level as there are no facilities such as a lift to explore the upper or lower rooms. The gardens can also be a bit challenging as the walkways and paths can be a little steep or shingled path ways. There is a licensed restaurant, shop and good toilet facilities.
How to get here!
From the M25 take the exit at Junction 5 or 6 and follow the route on the A25 towards Westerham. Follow the brown road signs to Chartwell. It is quite easy to find.
Address for those who have a sat nav.
Chartwell. Mapleton Road, Westerham. Kent. TN16 1PS.
The property was given to the National trust which runs and maintains the property and is open year round at various times. I would advise you to check the opening times from the National trust web site as there are varied opening times. The gardens are also open when the house is closed to enjoy the scenic views and beautiful countryside.
Would I recommend a visit here.
Yes I would definitely recommend a visit. I got a real feeling of who Sir Winston Churchill was, being a humble and down to earth family man who was so proud of his beloved home and cherished his family life. I think it appropriate that it is open to the public as Churchill is probably Britains most important statesmen and I found it to be a very pleasurable visit.
At weekends and bank holidays it does get rather crowded and there are also coach loads of visitors. However due to the timed visit the house does not seem over crowded allowing you to enjoy your visit without it being spoilt by too many visitors. The day I visited it was absolutely heaving with visitors as the car park was full and there were a couple of coach loads of visitors too but it did not feel over crowded at all.
National trust members free.
After visiting the historical residential palace of the British sovereigns in The Tower of London, a week later on 5 June 2010 I made my second visit to Chartwell, the home of Winston Churchill, A great British leader and Prime Minister.
Brief introduction about Chartwell:
Chartwell is located in Westerham, Kent, just outside of London. Going back to the 16th century Henry VIII is reputed to have stayed in the house during his courtship of Anne Boleyn at nearby Hever Castle. In 1922 Sir Winston Churchill purchased the property and spent as much time as he could there until his death, except during the Second World War. In 1946 they sold the estate to their friends due the financial reasons, but still lived there by paying nominal rent. In 1965 after Churchill's death Chartwell was presented to the National Trust immediately.
According to the National Trust, Chartwell is an example of 'Victorian architecture at its least attractive, a ponderous red-brick country mansion of tile-hung gables and poky oriel windows'. However that said 'Any mountain can be famous with the presence of an immortal; Any river can be holy with the presence of a dragon'. At the house you can see the Churchills' stunning family home; Wandering through the gardens you can enjoy the beautiful and tranquil country life, and discover Sir Winston's paintings in his fascinating studio. What else will you expect for?
Because entry to the house is by timed ticket most visitors will visit the gardens first, so from which my article starts.
Once you have passed through the Visitor Centre you will walk along a footpath, then you will come across the beautiful water area, that was the one of reasons Winston Churchill bought Chartwell as he had opportunity to do some landscaping especially water features. This area includes two parts: a swimming pool and two lakes are located in the down side of the footbath, above which there is a water garden and a rock garden.
The swimming pool was built in 1934 and was his second one. In Churchill's time it was heated. If you walk just below the pool to the left you can see the building which contained the boiler and pumping equipment. Below the swimming pool you can also see two lakes. The lower lake has always been there, but Churchill extended it and put an island in 1935. The upper lake was constructed during the period of 1924 and 1928. It was a major project and Churchill himself assisted with the digging. Nearby in the north east you can see a fenced area in which the first swimming pool was. At the south end of the upper lake there is a statue of Sir Winston and Lady Churchill made by Oscar Nemon.
This area is also the haven for geese, duck and black swans. I saw a Canadian goose couple with four goslings in the swimming pool, two Black Swans in the upper lake and a few groups of duck around everywhere. Black Swans have been a feature at Chartwell since 1927. The two black swans I saw only arrived at the end of January 2010 and are two years old.
Back to the footpath and walk further you can see the Rock Garden and the Water Garden. The Rock Garden features water cascading over rocks of Forest of Dean Sandstone and was supplied by Garvin Jones, who had won a gold metal at the Chelsea flower show in 1948. The Lady Churchill visited the show and was inspired by his features. Consequently Garvin Jones installed his display at Chartwell free of charge. Next to the Rock Garden is the Water Garden, which contains a Golden Orfe pond. Beside the Golden Orfe pond is a small blue chair and a bait box. This was one of Winston Churchill's favourite places to sit and relax in the garden. He would spend hours feeding his Golden Orfe, which were supplied by Harrods in 1937. As tourist you can't pass through the stone-path to reach the other side of the pond, but you can feed these fish as Churchill did, you also can put coins into the pond if you like.
Leaving the pond and walking up you can see a gate towards to Lady Churchill's Rose Garden. It is a small plant garden and has an entrance to the Marlborough Pavilion, which is a small sandstone and clunch structure with two open sides. The interior embellishment portrays the battle of Marlborough.
Walking towards and passing to the rear of the house there is a grassed area called the Croquet Lawn, where Churchill's family played croquet. Nearby you can see a small area marked as Pet Graves, where the family's pets were buried. Next to the lawn there is a large area called the Kitchen garden, where you can see a few fruits and many vegetables: potato, carrot, tomato, you name it; The Kitchen garden was created in 1934 to supply produce for Chartwell and their London's homes. Today at the care of the National Trust the Kitchen Garden keeps as it was like in 1930's and every fruit and vegetable is grown here both for ornamental purpose, and supplying to the Chartwell restaurant. There is a Golden Rose Walk running through the centre that was a gift given by their children for their golden marriage anniversary in 1958. At the corner of the garden there is a small building called Marycot made by Churchill himself for his daughter to play there. Today Marycot and a small area in front of it are used for children to play. However the most impressive part there for me is a wall at the bottom of the Golden Rose Walk towards to Marycot, that was partially made by Churchill himself. That said he was a very good bricklayer being able to lay 90 bricks an hour. Next to the Kitchen Garden there is a studio that displays Churchill's paintings. I had a look at my first visit and I was surprised to know he's such a great painter. Now they have an act show a few times a day, however I missed it due the time limit.
Above is about what you mainly can see at the gardens. In short it is in a great size, not too big but not too small, with some really nice views.
You can enter the House by the time marked on your ticket and stay as long as you like. There is a paper guide at the entrance and a staff in every room. First you will entre Lady Churchill's Sitting Room, that was a sitting room during 1920s-30s and later used as a bed room by Lady Churchill. On the wall facing the entrance you can see a big portrait of Sir Churchill, next which there is one of his oil paintings named Winter Sunshine that won first prize at an amateur painters' competition in 1925 and gained his first entry at the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition in 1947. You can also see their family's pictures and a picture of Field Marshal Montgomery. As Churchill's close friend he was one of the latest guests at Chartwell. The room leads onto the Pink Terrance which offers spectacular views across the weald of Kent.
Then you will entre the Entrance Hall that was changed to be smaller and more intimate during Churchill's time. A visitors' book is displayed in a glass box. It records many of the guests who came to Chartwell between 1924 and 1964. The famous signatories include American President Truman, British Prime Minister Lloyd George and British actor Laurence Olivier. However I didn't see the aforementioned signatures and was told they change pages to display per two months.
Walking forward it is the Drawing Room. That is part of the three-storey garden wing extension and has windows in three walls with light and airy feel. This room was a main meeting place for Churchill's family and their guests. Beside the original decoration chosen by Lady Churchill there are two very noticeable gifts: one is a crystal glass cockerel, the symbol of France, given by General de Gaulle; another is Charing Cross Bridge painted by Claude Monet in 1902 and was a gift for Churchill.
Opposite to the Drawing Room is the Library that was much used by Churchill's research assists. The room is in a small size but surrounded by books, among which there is a model of Port Arromanches in the middle of a wall. It is one of the artificial Mulberry harbours that Churchill was keen to develop and played such an important role in the Allied Invasion of Europe in 1944. A bust of Franklin Roosevelt is placed at a corner of a bookshelf. That was a gift from Averill Harriman, who came to Britain as Roosevelt's special envoy and became a friend of the Churchills.
Leaving the Library and walking upstairs at the corridor towards Lady Churchill's bedroom first you will see a smaller copy of Churchill's bronze displaying in the member's lobby of the House of Commons made by Oscar Nemon. Lady Churchill's bedroom has a high barrel-vaulted ceiling and duck-egg blue colour scheme that makes the room spacious with a sense of calm. Lady Churchill spent many hours at her writing desk dealing with her correspondence and the household accounts. At the desk you can see one of Churchill's last photographs and one picture of their daughter Marigold, who died from a septic throat in 1921, before her third birthday. Because Lady Churchill was fond of pencils there were always a few beautiful Italian pencils at the desk. I was surprised to see a Blanc-de-Chine that figures of the mother of goddess Kwan Yin, who is a symbol of goodness of mercy in Chinese culture. I don't know when and why she put the China in her bedroom, but I suppose the lost of their beloved daughter probably was a reason. Next to the bedroom is the Ante-Room and Landing that was used to be Lady Churchill's bath and dressing room. Now it contains China and other memorabilia, one of which is the robes she wore when she was made Baroness Spencer-Churchill in 1965. On the landing hangs one of Churchill's earliest paintings, Plug Street, painted in 1916 while he was serving in the trenches in Flanders. Personally I think it is very rare to see bombing in his paintings.
Leaving the landing and turning to your left you will walk into The Museum and the Uniform Rooms. These rooms were created out of three guest bedrooms after Churchill's death. Having a museum to display the gifts and awards presented to him was Churchill's desire. At these rooms not only can you see many beautiful and valuable items connecting with Churchill, but you also can see some important moments in Churchill's life through a small exhibition there. It was interesting to read some of his famous quotes and his different attitudes towards the leaders of America, Russia and France during the Second World War. Because Churchill's mother was an American to him the relationship between UK and USA was always special. Although before my visit I already knew he was finally forced to leave Downing Street I still felt sad to see him saying forever to the Queen at his last night as Prime Minister. I spent almost one hour on the exhibition but still felt it was not enough. If I can I would like staying there longer, when I felt tired I would sit on the comfortable red sofa and read some books about him. However I can't stop my steps as his Study room is just nearby.
The Study is the heart of Chartwell as Churchill's workshop, where he worked on five budgets as Chancellor of Exchequer, rehearsed speeches against Fascism and conceived much of his literary pieces. If you noticed the Union Flag, that was hoisted in Rome on 5 June 1944, the first to be flown over a librated European capital and was a gift from Filed Marshal Alexander, you would also notice the wooden ceiling. Different from other rooms with beautiful decoration Churchill kept the ceiling as it was of a farm house in 17th century. There is a mahogany lectern standing by a wall. It was given by his children for his 75th birthday, so Churchill could put the books he was referring on the lectern and consult them easily. I also noticed a painting that features the views of Blenheim Palace, where Churchill was born and buried nearby. I was surprised to know he chose to stay next to his parents and brother instead of Westminster Abbey to be honest.
Down stairs on the lowest level of the garden's wing is the Dining Room. Same as the Drawing Room it offers magnificent views out over the garden and the surrounding landscape. The table and the chairs were designed especially for this room. The fine utensils on the table tell the taste of the owner. Before you leave you must have a look at The Golden Rose Book that was part of the gift from their children for their golden wedding anniversary. It's a selection of watercolours of roses which formed the golden rose avenue in the garden and contributed by leading artists of the day. It's also interesting to see a painting named Bottlescape on the wall next to the exit. That was painted one Christmas by Churchill in 1932 and featured a collections of his favourite vintages.
Next to the Dining Room is the Kitchen. The National Trust keeps the kitchen as it was like in Churchill's time. Some of the cooking utensils are original with the family's name, some are not. I was pleased to find one fruit bowl very much similar with the one I have at home. At the end of your house tour there is an exhibition about Churchill's life. I must to say I was very sad when seeing his funeral on the way. The day without Churchill is a day wasted indeed!
The opening time of the House is from March to October, but the garden opens yearly. The prices vary depending on the seasons. The Standard Admission prices for Adults is £10.60 and for Children £5.30. You can also have an entrance to the Garden and Studio only. To National Trust numbers they are all free including the parking, that is big enough to meet the busy days. There is a decent restaurant providing refreshment and snacks. The Chartwell Sausage Roll is the best sausage roll I have had so far. You can also buy some souvenir at the shop next to the restaurant. The house is available for people using wheelchairs and the garden is available for dogs on short leads. The toilets are at the rear of the shop, but changing room is inside the Visitor Centre.
I enjoyed every minute I had at Chartwell and would highly recommend anyone. Last but not least I would give thanks to God for Winston Churchill. What a great man he was!
For more pictures please visit my blog: http://blossom-iwanttoseetheworld.blogspot.com