Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chartwell House

One of the great delights of being back in England is the accessibility of interesting historical things. The previous few days had struck a similar pattern - miserably wet & cloudy in the morning before clearing to a reasonably nice afternoon. The same happened yesterday, so Trish & I were looking for somewhere to go. Initially the Hop Farm looked like a good idea, but it seems to have turned in to a family park which would be teeming at this time of the year. Eventually we settled on a shorter drive south to Chartwell House in the Kentish countryside.

I'm not sure how I wasn't aware of this place on my last stay here as it's quite close & satisfies my historical interest being the home of Winston Churchill from the early '20s until just before his death in 1965. We managed to snake a parking space - of course many other people thought it would be a good time to visit such a nice spot. The grounds aren't particularly large, but there is a nice big lawn sloping down towards a couple of ponds & looking out over the Weald of Kent. There were also plenty of ponds & walled gardens - the first walled one we came across was a very nice rose garden. Further past the house & the croquet lawn was an extensive kitchen garden - some of the walls for this were built by Churchill himself. Also out in the grounds is the studio where Churchill pursued his love of painting.

The house isn't from the outside overly exciting or ostentatious. Entry inside was timed so that one could still move comfortable in & between the rooms. No photos allowed inside - interesting to see where Churchill had written most of his many books. Shortly after taking over the house, Churchill had a lot of work done including adding a wing facing out towards the lawn & ponds. This at least gave a lot more space & light to the interior. More of Churchill's better paintings & an extensive library abounded. Upstairs there was a small museum detailing some of his life & achievements, as well as many of the various ceremonial & other clothes that were very interesting. Overall a very pleasant afternoon pottering around & enjoying the Englishness of it all.

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