Chartwell is a National Trust property located near Westerham and Edenbridge in Kent. Winston Churchill lived at Chartwell with his family for several years. The house that we see today is presumed to have been built between 1515 and 1546 although there are records of another house on the same site. The name Chartwell comes from the Kentish word ‘Chart’ meaning common and the well which supplied water to the property. It is thought that the house was built to be a hunting lodge or country residence.
The house changed its name to Well Street in the late 1700s where it became a foundling house for the London Foundling Hospital until in 1836 when it was sold to the Drinkwater Bethune family from Surrey. The next owners, the Campbell Colquhouns, renamed the house Chartwell and made many alterations to the house and land before it was purchased by Winston Churchill in 1922. Churchill remodelled and extended the property again with the help of architect Philip Tilden and moved in with his wife and four children when works were completed. During the war, due to its location, the house became vulnerable to bombing so the Churchill family stayed in Oxfordshire.
Churchill had financial difficulties and a group of businessmen bought the property in 1947 and gifted it to The National Trust with the condition that the Churchill family could still live there. Winston Churchill moved out in 1964 due to ill health and he died in 1965. The National Trust opened the property to the public in 1966.
The interior of the house has been kept as it was in the 1920s to 1930s. There is furniture from Heals. The house was considered modest for a Prime Minister and as such it is not possible to view all the rooms in the house, with the tours largely focusing on the family rooms. These have been left as the family lived in them.
Churchill’s studio in the garden is where he painted his landscapes of the views from Chartwell as well as from his travels.
The garden is extensive as Winston and Clementine were nature lovers. There is a rose garden as well as ponds, woodland and an orchard. There is also a larger estate which is open to the public and allows walks to other National Trust properties such as Toys Hill and Emmetts Garden. The popular café offers extensive views over The High Weald.
For more information visit The National Trust website
The Design Gallery’s showroom and warehouse at Marsh Green, between Edenbridge, Kent and Lingfield, Surrey are 20 minutes’ drive from Chartwell. Call 01959 561234 to check our opening hours and for directions.
Photo Credit: Sevenoaks Chronicle