Last weekend we made use of our National Trust passes and drove down the road to Kent to ‘Chartwell’, the home of Sir Winston Churchill.
We toured the house (cameras are not allowed) which is set out as it would have been in the 1920’s. There was also an exhibition charting Winston’s life, both personal and political, with clothing, uniforms and medals in shiny display cases.
I was pleased to see that Clementine (Winston’s wife) was not overlooked. Apparently she never liked Chartwell (Winston bought it without consulting her!) but still set about making a lovely family home and gardens. They created an extensive kitchen garden, a lake, a rose garden and built a playhouse amongst other improvements.
The gardens feature over 40 types of rhododendrons and being May plenty of them were in flower which was beautiful.
Obviously there were also a lot of other beautiful trees, shrubs and plants and any gaps in the borders were explained away with signs from the gardening team citing what pruning or planting was currently being undertaken.
Chartwell is definitely one of the better appointed National Trust properties no doubt due to the huge number of tourists who want to walk in the footsteps of our most famous Prime Minister. On a gloriously sunny Sunday in May there were a fair few, with their selfie sticks and fold-out maps, renting out the private croquet lawn but due to the sheer expanse of the place it never felt crowded.
For his 88th birthday Winston was given a ginger cat, which he named Jock. When Chartwell was left to The National Trust in 1966 the family requested that there always be a marmalade cat with a white bib and four white socks in comfortable residence.
Jock IV was adopted from a Croydon rescue centre as a kitten in 2014 and now lives in the lap of luxury at Chartwell. I know I’m a total sap and crazy cat lady but I love this rags to riches story.
Sadly we didn’t spot him on our visit. A reason to go back perhaps?