THE TRAVELLING HISTORIAN -- CHURCHILL'S CHARTWELL

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CHURCHILL'S CHARTWELL


Churchill Coat of Arms
Motto
Faithful But Unfortuante

Churchill's Chartwell

Of this home of peace and pleasure, he said simply,
"I love the place."

A very popular point of interest for visitors to Kent County in southeast England
is Sir Winston Churchill's beloved home
Chartwell.


Among the tourists at Chartwell
photo
by
G. Wilson

On September 12, 1922, their 14th wedding anniversary, Clementine, in a letter had written, "If only we could get a little county home within our means and live there within our means, it would add great happiness and peace in our lives." Winston was already looking and found what he believed would fill the bill. The problem was the price.


Winston and Clementine 1919

On the day after he received Clemmie's letter, Churchill made an offer on Chartwell Manor, an Elizabethan house near Westerham, Kent. The asking price was 5500 pounds. He offered 4800 pounds arguing that it was full of dry rot and would need extensive repairs to make it liveable. His offer was refused: the price was 5500 pounds! Churchill then summoned the seller to the Colonial Office where "he strode up and down using every argument he could think of without result and finally gave way with very bad grace." They compromised on 5000 pounds. He deposited 500 pounds to seal the deal.

Churchill was right; the place had to be constructed almost from the ground up. Despite the fact that money was tight he hired a leading architect "he wants very much." to oversee the work which took two years. Worse still he had not consulted Clemmie about the purchase and when she saw it she did not like it. And oh the expense! "I beg you not to worry about the money," wrote Churchill, Cosy Pig as he called it, "is to be our home." She never did share her husband's perception of Chartwell. Winston slept there first on April 18, 1924. Churchill loved every minute of it until he left it for the last time in October, 1963.

Chartwell from the South-West


Chartwell from the West

Chartwell from the West Front


Named for a clear spring on the property, Chart Well, it is 80 acres of lakes and spacious landscaped lawns. The red-bricked house sits on a hillside with a commanding view of the Weald of Kent whose green slopes and century-old forests stretch away to the horizon. Looking down on the wonderful Weald, Churchill said years later, "I bought Chartwell for that view."

The Kentish Weald
photo by
G. Wilson

Churchill took an active interest in planning and implementing a number of impressive works at Chartwell including a lake, various brick outbuildings and a sturdy wall that winds about the place. A plaque on it records the fact that it was built largely between 1925 and 1932 "by Winston with his own hands." He worked and wrote at the same time, boasting proudly that he produced,"200 bricks and 200 words a day."


Chartwell Grounds
photo by
B. Wilson


Walkway
photo by
G. Wilson


Flowers Abound
photo by
G. Wilson


Birdbath Walkway
photo by
G. Wilson


The Bricklayer and Helpers


Bricklayer


Churchill's Brickwork
photo by
G. Wilson

His Handiwork with Bricks
photo by
G. Wilson


Walled Flower Walk



Bricklayer's work
photo by
G. Wilson

When word of his bricklaying skills became widely known, an official of the Building Trade Workers invited 'Brother Churchill' to join its union. He readily accepted subject to the members' approval which they refused, fearing they said, "public contempt and ridicule,"a decison they greatly regretted later.

Churchill decided the family, "should live off the land." He knew absolutely nothing about farming and his ventures on the whole were financial failures. Poulty, pigs, sheep, cattle - all languished and left him the poorer. He loved all creatures and thought the world a better place if, "inhabited only by animals." He resisted modern farming methods and indignantly rejected artificial insemination, growling, "My beasts will not be deprived." He also found it difficult to contemplate slaughtering livestock. Once when Clementine had a goose cooked for dinner, he handed her the carving knife with the words, "You carve him Clemmie, he was a friend of mine."

Clementine's lingering reserve about 'Cosy Pig,' stemmed largely from its cost. The payroll was staggering: a cook, a farmhand, a groom, three gardeners, a nanny, a nursery maid, an odd man for boilers and boot, two housemaids, two kitchen maids, a lady's maid and two secretaries. When she complained about the backlog of bills, he suggested he could put them in the black by "going into milk." She promptly reminded him of the red mite and vermin that had decimated the chickens and the sow "covered with lice." No more was heard of milk.

His writing kept the family finances afloat. Of this inexhaustible source of supply, he told Clementine, "The well flows freely; only time is needed to draw water from it."

Winston At The Well


The well occasionally bottomed out and in 1947 Churchill's finances were such that he considered selling Chartwell. A group of his weathly friends intervened and bought the house so he could live out his life there. Following Churchill's death and with Clementine's approval, Chartwell reverted to the National Trust to be operated as a memorial to the man - who needed none.

The house has been restored to recapture its heyday atmosphere of the 1930s and many of the furnishings are original. From the front door one enters a small hall. A visitors' book on an oak sidetable bears the names of every guest there for the last 40 years among whom were such luminaries as Lloyd George, Lawrence of Arabia, Harry Truman and Charlie Chapman. The signature of Montgomery of Alamein appears frequently. A mahogany umbrella stand contains many of Churchill's walking canes including an aluminum shooting stick.

Lovely Dining Room

Drawing Room

Hall Alcove
photo by
G.Wilson

Hallway Displaying Churchill's Paintings which he called "my little daubs"
photo by
G. Wilson

Winston's Bedroom
In Search of Churchill
by Martin Gilbert

To the left in the photo is a specially designed ledge which swung out to become a table on which he ate and wrote. On its right is a photograph of Winston's mother and above the bed, one of his father. On the bedside is a photograph of his racehorse, Colonist II.

Mrs. Churchill's Bedroom

Library displaying a picture of Churchill's artificial harbour, the 'Mulberry Harbour' used during the invasion of 'Festung Europa' on the Normandy coast in 1944.

Winston's portrait in a 'siren suit' is over a small fireplace. Nearby is a bust of President Roosevelt. Winston's war memoirs translated into every major language occupy a significant part of the library collection.

Library Painting Winston in Siren Suit

The study is the heart Chartwell. The room was essentially as he left it for the last time in 1963. Tourists tend to linger longer in this room in which he wrote his great works and his stirring speeches. A large mahogany writing desk, which had belonged to his father dominated the room. It was covered with family portraits and two small busts of his heroes - Napoleon and Nelson.

Churchill's Study

Churchill preferred to write standing up at a wooden lectern built against the wall. Presented to him by his children, it is a copy of one he made himself. He wrote or more frequently dictated his speeches, striding about the room engulfed in a cloud of cigar smoke. Over the fireplace was a painting of Churchill's birthplace, Blenheim.

In the open rafters in the study, various banners and flags are displayed, one of the latter having been raised in Rome when it was captured on June 5, 1944.

Three vistors' bedrooms were converted into museum rooms. Two contained trophies and medals presented to Winston during his lifetime. Among them was Queen Victoria's Sudan Medal awarded to him for participating in the charge of the 21st Lancers at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. A third room contained his hats, exotic suits and numerous uniforms. They included the Order of the Garter, an Air Commodore's uniform, robes of a Privy Councillor, the Warden of Cinque Ports and his siren suits with the 10-gallon hat and slippers embroidered with WSC in gold thread.

Winston's Slippers
photo by
G. Wilson

Near the exit door is a wanted poster offering 25 pounds for the capture of Churchill "dead or alive" issued following his escape from a Boer prison in 1899. He frequently remarked, "That's all I'm worth, 25 pounds."

A source of great interest to tourists was the cottage called the Studio. Its walls were covered with Winston's canvasses, some only partially completed. His easel and paintbox are as he left them. A large armchair in which he rested is nearby. Painting was a relaxing pursuit for him.

Studio


Easel at the ready

Winston's Studio Chair
photo by B.Wilson

When he was despondent with despair, said Churchill, "the Muse of Painting came to my rescue. She did so he said "out of charity and out of chivalry because after all she had nothing to do with me." On one occasion in the thirties when he was down in the dumps about his politial prospects, he said to a friend, I am going to Chartwell to assault a canvas.

The Painter at his Easel

Down the hill and across the wide expanse of lawn beside a goldfish pond is one lone, white, wooden chair. His spirit seems to hover over this his favourite spot in his last years, where he fed the golden orfe and gazed over the misty landscapt. His daughter, Mary, said he whiled away time, while time took him.

Winston's Walkway to Favourite Spot photo by
G. Wilson

Winston's Favourite Spot
photo by
G.Wilson

Winston and his Poodle Gazing at the Weald

To see this beautiful place is to understand Winston Churchill's heartfelt remark, "A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted."

"Chartwell never failed him in good times and bad. Not even in the last sad years when, silent and remote from us all, he would sit for hours in the golden sunshine of the summer days, gazing over his enchanted valleys and lakes."

"We shall bite them on the beaches."

Maev Kennedy guardian.co.uk, Thursday 8 July 2010 18.19 BST

Winston Churchill's dentures for sale

The politician's false teeth were so important for his speech, he had several sets made, one of which is expected to fetch thousands. Winston Churchill's false teeth are for sale along with two of his cigars. Winston Churchill's false teeth are to be auctioned for an estimated 5,000. The unlovely but beautifully made set of dentures helped the British prime minister and second world war icon overcome terrible dental problems since childhood and deliver some of the most famous speeches of the 20th century. He was so anxious about losing them and being unable to speak, that he always kept a spare set, which is why several survive. He valued so highly the skill of his dentist, Wilfred Fish, that he nominated him for a knighthood. They are being sold by the son of Derek Cudlipp, the technician who made them, at an auction on 29 July at Keys auction rooms in Aylsham, Norfolk, which recently sold a butter dish used by Churchill as an ashtray and a stubbed-out cigar of his for 4,500. Auctioneer Andrew Bullock said they were so unusual, they could go well over the estimate. "The teeth are set in dentist's gold, but I think it is safe to say they won't be sold for their scrap value." The same sale will have two more cigars, carefully kept by a woman who is now 87, who once nursed Churchill in hospital, when he gave her the cigars, asking if her father smoked.

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