Chartwell, Family home of Sir Winston Churchill
Chartwell, located two miles south of Westerham, Kent, England, was the home of Sir Winston Churchill.
Churchill and his wife Lady Clementine Churchill bought the property in 1922 and retained it until his death in 1965. He employed architect Philip Tilden to modernise and extend the somewhat featureless brick house that stood on the property. Tilden transformed the house between 1922 and 1924, simplifying and modernising it, as well as allowing more light into the house through large casement windows, working in the gently vernacular tradition that is familiar in the early houses of Edwin Lutyens, a style stripped of literal Tudorbethan historicizing details but retaining multiple gables with stepped gable-ends, and windows in strips set in expanses of warm pink brick hung with climbers.
Like many such early twentieth-century remakings of old houses, the immediate grounds, which fall away behind the house, were shaped into overlapping rectilinear terraces and garden plats, in lawn and mixed herbaceous gardens linked by steps descending to lakes that Churchill created by a series of small dams, the water garden where he fed his fish, Lady Churchill’s Rose Garden and the Golden Rose Walk, a Golden Wedding anniversary gift from their children. The garden areas provided inspiration for Churchill’s paintings, many of which are on display in the house’s garden studio.
During the Second World War, the house was mostly unused. Its relatively exposed position so near to German-occupied France meant it was potentially vulnerable to a German airstrike or commando-style raid. The Churchills instead spent their weekends at the prime minister’s official country residence Chequers.
The house has been preserved as it would have looked when Churchill owned it. Rooms are carefully decorated with memorabilia and gifts, the original furniture and books, as well as honours and medals that Churchill received.
The property is currently under the administration of the National Trust. It was given to the trust in 1946, with the Churchills paying a nominal rent, but was not open to the public until 1966, the year after Churchill’s death.