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National Trust

Days Out | Winston Churchill’s Chartwell

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Last year we went on a mini-adventure, with our friends Jamie and Liana, to Chartwell. The house is based in Kent and is best known as the country house of Sir Winston and Lady Clementine Churchill. It opened as a National Trust property in 1966, one year after the death of Sir Winston.

The House

On entering the Victorian red brick estate you start through the entrance lobby and follow your way through the house, almost as Churchill left it, to take in the living room, dining room, and the bedrooms, which have been turned into display rooms for the many honours and awards given to the Churchill’s. The stunning reveal at the end of the tour is Churchill’s study on the first floor.  Despite the fact the house was rarely used during World War II due to its proximity to the coast facing Europe, it was an important room throughout Churchill’s political life.

chartwellThe Gardens

Sir Winston loved the estate and he created many of the features in the estate including the lakes and the kitchen garden. A little-known fact about Churchill is that he was an amateur, but very competent, bricklayer and enjoyed building the Marycot, a playhouse, for his daughter. He was also a very accomplished painter and regularly painted across the estate, with some of his paintings hanging in Parliament.   His workroom is full of some great works of art and the room is regularly used for demonstrations. The estate grounds stretch for some good walking routes through the woodlands and through the immediate grounds giving stunning views of the house. Just be mindful of the swimming pool!


More information

Chartwell was bought by a consortium of businessmen in 1946, who bought the estate when the Churchill’s could not afford to run the property.  The estate was to be given to the National Trust once both Churchill ‘s had died.  They continued to live at the estate paying a nominal rent.  The estate was given to the Trust shortly after Sir Winston had died by his wife Lady Clementine.

The estate is a great location to learn more about the private life of Churchill and a great house and gardens to explore.   You can find out more about Chartwell here.

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28th September 2016

Days Out | Stourhead House & Gardens

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A couple of weeks ago, on our return drive from our Weekend in Devon, we decided to stop at the majestic Stourhead house & gardens to break up the journey. Located in Wiltshire,  Stourhead was bought by the Hoare family in 1714 and one of the first palladian style houses in the country was built in the 1720’s.  The Hoare family owned the property until is was passed to the National Trust in 1946 after the sole heir to the estate died in World War I.

The estate has over 2,500 of gardens to wander through with temples, ornamental cottages and a tower adding to the many vistas and pathways.  The ever changing view as you walk around the lake adds to the dramatic nature of the estate.  It does feel that any path will open onto an unexplored treasure.  The statues in the pantheon and the grotto are a good place to stop on your walk around the garden.

Over the centuries the house has been expanded and adapted to meet the decor of the time.  The current interior of the house is as impressive as the garden.  The mass space of the library would make any readers relaxed in the comfort of a stylish turn of the 20th century library.  Many of the rooms do look recently lived in, but that is likely to be due to the Hoare’s family current resident who has access to them. Much of the original artwork that the family owned was sold in the late 1800’s due to a member of the family who found himself in some financial trouble.  There is still some very impressive pieces of art and furniture including the Pope Cabinet that was built for Pope Sixtus V and was purchased during a grand tour by Henry Hoare in the 18th Century.  The cabinet has over 150 drawers including one that can not be opened.

As the estate is so large, it never feels busy and is a great place to take a picnic, enjoy the grounds and house at your leisure

Find out more about Stourhead at the National Trust website

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16th September 2016