Tunbridge Wells
Chartwell
Mapleton Road
Westerham,  Kent TN16 1PS
 
 
 
 
You do not have to be an aficionado of Sir Winston Churchill to appreciate a visit to his home, Chartwell in Kent.  The superb setting and gardens are worth seeing for themselves alone.  The estate is just two miles south of Westerham in south-east England.
 
Churchills' Family Home
Chartwell was the Churchills’ family home where his children grew up, where Winston wrote his voluminous memoirs, created a fabulous rose garden for his wife Clementine, and spent hours painting in his studio at the bottom of the garden.
 
As you walk through the house you get the feeling that the Churchills are still there and that they have just popped out of the room for a minute.  Magazines are scattered on the sofa, a half-drunk glass of brandy rests on the table, and an open pot of face cream waits on Clementine’s dressing table.
 
The studio is the same, oils squeezed out on the palette, brushes ready for use and a canvas on the easel.  Winston’s painting smock hangs on the back of the door.
 
Chartwell stands on the side of a wooded valley overlooking the Weald of Kent.  Churchill bought it for its stunning views, not for the dark, poky Victorian house.  Between 1922 and 1924 Churchill employed architect Phillip Tilden to modernise and extend the residence.  Large casements replaced the poky oriel windows allowing more light into the house.
 
Tudor Connection
There had been a house on the site since Tudor times and it is said that King Henry VIII stayed at Chart Well when visiting Anne Boleyn at nearby Hever Castle.  This Tudor connection had influenced the style of the Victorian country house the Churchills bought.  Tilden stripped back the Tudor artifices but kept the multiple gables with stepped gable ends.  Windows in strips set in expanses of warm pink brick hung with climbers. Tilden's work completely transformed the house.
 
Now in the care of the National Trust
Chartwell is under the care of the National Trust and the rooms remain much as they were when the Churchills lived here.  These rooms are carefully decorated with memorabilia and gifts, the original furniture and books, as well as honours and medals that Churchill received.  The room where Winston dictated his memoirs was a revelation to this writer – I had no idea that Winston stood and paced as he dictated, referring to source documents spread out on chest high benches.
 
Timed Ticket
While waiting to enter the house on your timed ticket, enjoy the terraced gardens, the fish ponds leading down to the lake (all constructed by Winston) and admire his brick laying skills learned while fighting ‘the black dog of depression’.
 
Churchill - the Private Man 
We know a lot about the political career of this famous statesman but Chartwell is where we meet the private man.  In 1946 it became clear to the Churchills that they could not afford to run the property. 
 
A group of wealthy business friends bought the estate.  The arrangement was that for payment of nominal rent both Sir Winston and Lady Churchill would have the right to live there until their deaths, when the property would be presented to the National Trust.  When Sir Winston died in 1965, Clementine decided to present Chartwell to the National Trust immediately.
 
Opening Times
Check the official website for up to date details of opening dates and times  Web:  Chartwell/ opening Times     External Link
 
Tip:  Admission to the house by timed ticket which should be purchased immediately on arrival (not bookable) as these can sell out on busy days.
 
Gardens are open throughout the winter, weather permitting.
 
Admission Prices
National Trust members admitted free.  Check the official website for up to date prices for non members  Web  Chartwell/ Admission Prices     External Link
 
Disabled Access
Building:   Two steps to the entrance with handrail, ramp available.  The Ground floor has steps, very limited turning space.  Stairs only to other floors.
Grounds:  Partly accessible, slopes, some steps, grass paths
Disabled: Toilets: Available at Visitor Centre.
Parking:   Drop off area.  Main car park is 250 yards (229 metres) away accessed by a slope and steps.
 
Facilities
Large restaurant; Kiosk serving light bites, drinks and snacks
Shop selling Churchill memorabilia and local artefacts;
Toilets
 
Accommodation - Search & Book through Hotels.com here:      External Link
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone  +44 (0)1732 868 381
Mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website  National Trust - Chartwell     External Link
 
Getting There
- By Car
Leave the M25 at exit 5 or 6 heading for Westerham.  2 miles (3.2 km)south of Westerham take the B2026.  After 1½ miles (2.4 km) fork left onto Mepleton Road and follow the signs to Chartwell.
 
- Parking
250 yards (229 metres) - pay and display.
 
There is comprehensive  information on the website  Web:   Chartwell/ Getting there
 
Churchill Museum & Cabinet War Rooms
Do not miss the article on the Churchill War Rooms, London in this website
 
Google Maps - Chartwell