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Chartwell

Muddy says: Former home of one of our country’s most well-known political figures and now a wondrous place to visit with beautiful gardens and woodland to explore alongside Sir Winston Churchill’s extensive paintings, housed in his studio, nestled in the orchard on the estate

To gain a greater understanding of one of our country’s most well-known political figures, then you should consider visiting Chartwell, just outside the pretty village of Westerham, which had been the much loved home of the Churchill family since 1922. It was a playground for their youngest daughter and a treasured private country recluse for a very public man, and is now a cultural destination in Kent.

No matter the age group nor the season, there is plenty to see and do to keep everyone happy and occupied. For those not already aware, Sir Winston Churchill was an avid amateur painter, painting over 500 canvasses in total, many at Chartwell in his studio, which is located down in the orchard amongst the apple trees, and you can see the largest single collection of his works hanging from the walls plus a brand new interactive ‘touch-wall’.

As well as Churchill’s treasured artwork, you can explore the house which is displayed as it was in the 1930s, the era when Winston, his wife, Clementine and their four children were all in residence. Chartwell first opened to the public in the summer of 1966 to immense popularity, with the queues outside the house even reported in the newspapers the next day.

There is also plenty of outdoor space to take in (and pooches welcome) with 80 acres of woodland and farmland belonging to Chartwell estate, and you will soon see why the Churchills famously bought Chartwell for the views from the terrace lawn in front of the house. We can highly recommend pulling up a chair there and  sitting back  to admire the far-reaching views out over the Chartwell estate and Weald of Kent.

Winston and Clementine Churchill were keen amateur gardeners and the gardens of Chartwell are as varied as they are beautiful the whole year round, including the Rose Garden, Clementine’s pride and joy, which became the part of the garden she loved the most. Winston had proposed to Clementine in the rose garden at Blenheim Palace and therefore she recreated a similar space at Chartwell to bring back fond memories for her.

And when you are in need of some yummy sustenance, head to Landemare café, named after Georgina Landemare who was the Chartwell cook for over 20 years. The fruit and veg couldn’t be more local a s it’s sourced from the kitchen garden at Chartwell, and everything is freshly made on-site so need to go hungry here.

Lastly, DO exit through the gift shop if only to find to admire the breadth of Winston Churchill memorabilia.Whether it’s a bust of the man himself or maybe the iconic cigars there’s something there to keep the memory alive. Plus, you’ll swiftly learn that he was a man of good taste, as you can walk away with a bottle of Pol Roger Champagne too – not your average gift shop item.

It’s well known that Churchill was partial to a glass of champagne – Pol Roger in particular. In fact he was their most illustrious devotee and customer, which is why Pol Roger created their Prestige Cuvée in homage to Sir Winston Churchill. They were even mindful of the qualities that he sought in his champagne: robustness, a full-bodied character and relative maturity. Now how about throwing that fact next time effortlessly into conversation next time you are quaffing some fizz with your pals….

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Kent