by Janis / 0 comments

An adored family home

Chartwell House is located in a beautiful region of Kent and has exceptional views across the picturesque Wealden countryside. It’s incredibly easy to see why Sir Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine fell in love with it.

Chartwell is very secluded and must have offered the Churchill family a tremendous amount of privacy. Every section of the estate has been extremely well thought out, from the tranquil hidden ponds and magnificent lake to the enchanting walled garden and the croquet lawn.

It’s such a pleasure strolling around the estate as there are so many distinctive areas that you’ll want to just sit back and enjoy and will bring a smile to your face.

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Keep an eye out for Chartwell’s resident cat Jock VII. Jock VII, a rescue kitten, is the latest feline to reside at Chartwell and was welcomed in May 2020 when his maturing predecessor retired from the role to live a more peaceful life. Winston requested that there will always be a marmalade-coloured cat with a white bib and four white socks residing on the estate.
A ginger tabby cat named Jock VII is hiding in the undergrowth of Chartwell.
Jock VII

Where is Chartwell?

How to get to Chartwell

- By Train
Chartwell is slightly remote; therefore, the nearest train stations are Edenbridge (4 miles), Oxted (6 miles) and Sevenoaks (6 miles). Sevenoaks has a regular service from London and a taxi rank for that final hop.

- By Car
Chartwell can be accessed from the A25 near Westerham. There’s a free car park for National Trust members, or parking charges apply to non-members visiting Chartwell.

A little history on Chartwell

A country manor house with an air of grace

The estate dates back to the 14th-century and has been built upon since the 16th-century. Amazingly sections of Tudor brickwork are still visible on the external walls.

Winston Churchill acquired the striking manor house in 1922 and, after extensive restoration, moved in with his family in 1924. Winston lived at Chartwell for many years, skipping a few during the Second World War and remaining until shortly before his death in 1965.

A view along a hedge-lined path to the south-facing red-brick wall of Chartwell House.
Chartwell House

The upkeep of Chartwell was proving to be very expensive; it was agreed that a group of businessmen would purchase the home in 1946/47, which was then offered to the National Trust. The only condition was that Winston and his wife could continue to live there.

Chartwell House was opened to the public in 1966 and was designated as a Grade I Listed Building in 1975.

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Exploring inside Chartwell House

Bringing elegant history alive

Stepping through the original wooden door from 1923, you’re walking in the footsteps of Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill. One of the UK’s most influential Prime Ministers.

The interior of Chartwell House is decorated as it was in the 1930s. Still, today, if any alterations need to be made, the National Trust discuss them with the Churchill family first.

The entrance on the west-facing profile of the red-brick of Chartwell House.
Chartwell House entrance

The first room we enter is Lady Churchill’s Sitting Room decorated so tastefully with duck egg blue walls and adorned with many paintings by Sir Winston.

This room later became Lady Churchill’s bedroom, and with the stunning views from the ‘Pink’ Terrace across the Weald of Kent, I don’t blame her.

Lady Churchill’s sitting room in Chartwell House is decorated in a duck egg blue with a picture of Sir Winston Churchill above the fireplace.
Lady Churchill’s Sitting Room
We then wander through the hall and into the attractive Drawing Room, which overlooks the acres of garden. The Drawing Room feels a little more informal and where the Churchill family would relax and meet their guests and where Winston would play the card game bezique.
Seating placed in a horseshoe shape around the fire of the Drawing Room of Chartwell House
The Drawing Room
The library is our next stop and contains rows and rows of floor to ceiling bookshelves full of fascinating reads and historical reference books. This once peaceful retreat has a wall-mounted model of the Port Arromanches detailing the Mulberry harbour from the Normandy Landings. Sections of the harbour can still be seen today in Arromanches.
A period desk and chair in the dimly lit library of Chartwell house
Chartwell Library
The bookshelf lined library at Chartwell house with a large map of the Port Arromanches in the centre of one wall.
Wall-mounted model of the Port Arromanches

Where to stay in nearby Westerham

- Willow Cottage – This beautiful holiday home with exposed beams is in the heart of Westerham and surrounded by some delightful restaurants and shops. It’s around 1.7 miles from Chartwell and offers free parking.
- The Kings Arms Hotel – This charming pub is in the centre of the historic town of Westerham. It has plenty of amenities on your doorstep and offers a full English breakfast. It’s around 1.7 miles from Chartwell and offers free parking.

The first floor of Chartwell awaits

From the boudoir to the study

As you stroll around Chartwell, ensure you talk to the Room Stewards. They are so passionate about Chartwell and love chatting and divulging fascinating snippets of information regarding the Churchill’s and the house.

Heading up to the first floor we pass by some amazing black and white photos of notable Lords and a delightful statue of Churchill.

A small cream stone statue of Sir Winston Churchill thrusting forward with his hands on his hips.
Statue of Churchill

We then enter the charming bedroom of Lady Churchill. The barrel-vaulted ceiling gives a wonderful height to the room, which has breath-taking views over the far-reaching Kent countryside.

It almost feels as though Clementine Churchill has just stepped out of the room. Every detail was in place on her desk and not a hairbrush out of place on her dressing table.

A desk in front of a fireplace in the pale blue decorated bedroom of Lady Churchill in Chartwell House
Lady Churchill’s Bedroom
Also on the first floor, are three guest rooms which were converted in 1966 to a Museum Room and a Uniform Room. Churchill had always planned on creating a small museum at Chartwell to share his many pictures, gifts he’d received from around the world, other significant keepsakes, and memorabilia. Of course, a collection of his many hats and military uniforms.
A bust of Sir Winston Churchill and the sign for the Museum and Uniform Rooms within Chartwell house
The Museum and Uniform Rooms
A buff-coloured military jacket, embellished with many medal ribbons, and cap of Sir Winston Churchill in the Uniform Room within Chartwell House.
One of Churchill’s many uniforms

The final room we visited on the first floor was Sir Winston Churchill’s Study, and one I imagine was very well used.

The incredible beamed vaulted ceiling rises high above Winston’s mahogany desk, where speeches were written and rehearsed and where he undertook much of his journalistic writing.

The vaulted study of Sir Winston Churchill with its bookshelves and writing desk.
Winston Churchill’s Study

The Churchill’s entertaining at Chartwell

If only walls could speak?
The final floor in Chartwell House is the lower ground and where the elegant Dining Room and the bustling kitchen reside. Although many important gatherings would have taken place here in the dining room, it feels quite intimate and personal.
Two small tables with comfortable chairs in Chartwell's Dining Room with its full-length arched windows overlooking the grounds
Chartwell’s Dining Room
The purposely designed circular wooden dining table stands gracefully in front of the striking arched windows. It overlooks Chartwell’s manicured garden and lake beyond. It’s a beautiful spot in the house and is understandably chosen for its views.
The traditionally equipped mid-20th-century kitchen at Chartwell House, with pots and pans on the Aga cooker, a wooden topped centre console and a kitchen dresser in the background.
Chartwell’s Kitchen
Just beyond the dining room is the heart and soul of most houses, and that’s the kitchen. Full of shiny copper pans in all shapes and sizes, a well-used heavyweight stove and a simple butler sink.
A poster of airmen topped with the slogan “Never was so much owed by so many to so few” in Chartwell House
“Never was so much owed by so many to so few”
The final room of the house is a permanent exhibition to Sir Winston Churchill and his achievements during his life. The stories and photos are intriguing to see and portray such a remarkable and diverse life story.

Escape for a few days

Are you looking for that ‘perfick’ holiday hideaway to relax in while you discover the Garden of England?

After a day exploring the Kent coast and its many historic castles enjoy one of the handpicked properties and unique retreats at Holiday Cottages.

Sir Winston’s studio

Churchill’s largest single collection of paintings
I truly enjoyed visiting Chartwell House; it had been somewhere I wanted to explore for years; however, Churchill’s passionate and emotive studio was stunning.
A selection of canvases, painted by Sir Winston Churchill, in his studio in the grounds of Chartwell.
Inside Churchill’s studio

As soon as we stepped into the studio, I felt a sense of calm. I love art, and visiting Churchill’s personal studio had such an air about it.

It’s unbelievable to comprehend that Churchill didn’t start painting until 1915 when he was in his 40s. There were so many vibrant paintings from his travels in Italy, Marrakech, and the Middle East. They were often completed within a matter of hours.

Sir Winston continued painting for a further 50 years and produced over 500 canvasses. This studio at Chartwell contains the most extensive single collection of Churchill’s artworks.

A glass of Whisky, a partially smoked cigar resting in an ashtray, a box of three cocks mints and an artist's paint palette in Sir Winston Churchill's studio in the grounds of Chartwell.
Just how Churchill would have left it

If you're intrigued by Kent's weird and wonderful history, or all unusual stories around the county, then take a peek at "Kent's Strangest Tales".

You won't be able to put it down, you can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.

Chartwell’s gorgeous gardens

Exploring the estate
When you first approach the beautiful gardens at Chartwell, you are set off on a voyage of discovery. Your inquisitive mind wants to explore every hidden corner, its numerous tranquil ponds, and each perfectly scented flowerbed.
The outdoor swimming pool set within the green grass at Chartwell's
Chartwell swimming pool
On your stroll to Chartwell House, you’ll spot the large circular swimming pool built in the 1930s and used by the Churchills during Kent’s beautiful summers. Although just in case the British weather wasn’t reliable, Winston ensured the swimming pool was heated.
Stepping stone across the Golden Orfe Pond to a single wooden seat at Chartwell's
Golden Orfe Pond
Meandering further around the winding path and you’ll spot the Golden Orfe Pond where Winston used to feed his fish amongst the lush vegetation of Gunnera and Acers. Also, near here is the Gavin Jones water feature.
A view of Chartwell house from Lady Churchill’s Rose Garden in the autumn.
Lady Churchill’s Rose Garden

After touring Chartwell House, we stepped out onto the exquisite terrace and into Lady Churchill’s Rose Garden.

The charming rose garden has a beautiful backdrop of the country manor and a characterful old wall. I can imagine in the summer months, when the fragrant roses are in full bloom, they’ll look stunning.

We’ll have to return!

The stone Marlborough Pavilion set at the edge of the lawns at Chartwell
Marlborough Pavilion

Just down from the rose garden is the Marlborough Pavilion and the terraced lawns, immaculately kept by the National Trust.

Strolling a little further around the estate, you’ll discover the croquet lawn, which was once a tennis court. The croquet was more of a passion for Clementine than Churchill.

Thre croquet lawn, complete with white hoops, with Chartwell house in the background.
Croquet Lawn at Chartwell

Discovering more of Kent

If you love exploring intriguing historic castles and charming stately homes, then take a peek at our posts on Hever Castle, Ightham Mote, Knole, Scotney Castle and Sissinghurst Castle. These ancient homes are reasonably close by and would make an excellent weekend mini-break.

Chartwell’s Walled Garden

Wandering the walking trails

The garden I especially loved was the gorgeous Walled Garden.

We amble amongst the fruit-filled orchard and brush past the bursting lavender beds, full of bees and butterflies. Then step through into the captivating Walled Garden, built by Winston Churchill’s own fair-hands between 1925 and 1932.

Purple late-blooming lavender set against the south edge of the walled garden of Chartwells
Lavender within the Walled Garden
Bright red stems of the Swiss Chard in the walled garden of Chartwells.
Swiss Chard ready for harvesting
Today the walled garden is full of seasonal, vibrant blooms, delicate wispy planting and an incredible amount of fruit and vegetables. The home-grown produce, once harvested for the Churchill family at Chartwell House, now keeps the provisions at the welcoming onsite café stocked up at the estate entrance.
A path leading from the centre to the top of the walled garden at Chartwell in Kent
The Walled Garden at Chartwell

Once you’ve explored Chartwell House and its splendid gardens, then venture off onto one of Chartwell’s walking trails. You’ll discover a treehouse, a Canadian Camp (created in honour of the Canadian troops stationed at Chartwell), a Doormouse Den and a Second World War bomb crater.

Oh yes, keep a lookout for the tactile statue of Winston and Clementine, which is down by the lake. It was created by the Croatian sculptor Oscar Nemon.

A lifesize bronze statue of Sir Winston Churchill and his wife Lady Clementine Churchill sitting on a bench in the grounds of Chartwell.
The Churchills

Our video of Chartwell

We have created a little YouTube video of Chartwell  Why not take a look?

Also, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

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