Now all the National Trust places we’ve been to have been lovely, but occasionally we come across one that’s truly special.
Such is the case today, when we visit Winston Churchill’s family home, Chartwell.
Nestled into a green valley in Westerham, Kent, Churchill was known to say that “a day away from Chartwell is a day wasted”. I can see why.
Through his turbulent life, Chartwell was the place that brought him comfort and light. He filled it with his personal treasures, but it was his wish to see it turned into a public museum, that’s made our visit possible today.
The estate dates back to the 1300s, but the house, whilst largely built in the 1920s, has older sections dating back 500 years.
It’s grand, yes, but feels very much like a family home, decorated with personal mementos and family photographs.
The grounds are extensive with not one, but two lakes,
many water features,
Lady Churchill’s gloriously scented rose garden,
a stunning walled garden (easily the best we’ve seen),
orchards and woodlands.
There’s also Churchill’s studio showcasing over a hundred of Churchill’s paintings – amongst his many talents was a love of oil painting. A guide walks us through his work, influenced by different artist mentors over the decades.
Upstairs, the main house showcases Churchill’s public life as a writer, orator, political leader and Prime Minister in a time of war: a true leader of men.
As an orator, I think he is still unsurpassed. He was awarded the Nobel Prize, not for peace as one might think, but for literature – in his busy life, he found time to be a prolific author.
There’s so much to see at Chartwell – the woodlands alone would take another day.
It’s another place I need to be dragged away from. I can see why Churchill loved it here – it’s the perfect antidote for the stresses his life would have brought him. What a talented, great man he was.