Paula had suggested visiting Chartwell today, Churchill’s home for over 40 years. It is located not too far from London near Westerham, Kent.
To get there we met at the London Bridge station, bought tickets, and waited to board the train to Oxted (train station nearest to Chartwell). Today we had a new experience, I think for the both of us. It came time for us to board the train but had no idea which track it was on – the reader board for this trip didn’t update and the train was due to leave. We eventually found the train but not until we ran up and down a few flights of stairs. Good exercise!
After we boarded we struck up a conversation with a woman who was heading in our direction. She had lived in German and also Nepal and had several stories to share with us. I can’t remember all that we talked about but it kept us occupied until we arrived at our stop.
We hadn’t planned (or at least I hadn’t) on how to get from the train station in Oxted to Chartwell. Guess there was a bus but we found a taxi who could take us. We arrived at Chartwell and found it quite busy with other visitors who probably came by car? Paula purchased a National Trust membership which will give her free access to hundreds of places free of charge. (Perhaps I should become a member too.)
Paula saw that there was a presentation in Churchill’s studio where he painted. (He was a fairly accomplished amateur painter.) It turned out to be a great place to start our tour. The presenter was very knowledgeable and story-teller who gave us helpful insight and background information about Chartwell and Churchill as well. I had many questions after his presentation. One question was about the disposition of his portrait that Churchill’s peers commissioned for him when he retired in 1954. (Lady Churchill had it burned in the compost heap beyond the gardens. Confirmed by the gardener who did the deed.) I shared with the presenter that Churchill and FDR were distant cousins.
Studio and Service Buildings
From there we walked around the extensive gardens that surround the main house and saw many familiar plants and were introduced to many new varieties. If I understood correctly, the estate has been maintained as it was when the Churchill’s lived there. If so, what an amazing place to call home.
Our tour of the house didn’t start until 2:00 so we had time to grab a bite in the cafe. We then waited at the home’s front entrance until it was time to enter. The home’s interior was fundamentally intact though some of the bedrooms were converted into display rooms and offices. We also learned that the home was closed up during World War II.
The old kitchen was presented as it would have been when the Churchill’s lived there in the early years. A more modern kitchen was installed in the floor above sometime later. The home seemed very well suited for entertaining visitors and official guests as well as a true home for the Churchill children. Many tributes and accolades were displayed throughout the home.
We ended our visit to Chartwell by sitting in a spot underneath a large tree not far from the house. Our view of the lawn below and the hills beyond was relaxing. We noted that this is pretty grand for a couple of kids from a small town in Oregon.
After some time under the tree we saw that we were the last people in the area and thought that we’d better leave before we were escorted out by security. When we arrived at the visitor center, it looked like they were closing down and getting ready for home. One of the staff was kind to call us a taxi and we were able to enjoy more of the surroundings while we waited.
On the train back into London we both were very tired. Paula excused herself and took a nap and I got a little rest until we were close to Victoria station, our final stop.
I grabbed a burger at Victoria station before I got on the underground. Felt like I was dragging myself through the lobby as I returned to the hotel. I was able to compose an update to my blog for my adventures from Monday then was in bed soon after that.
Tomorrow I leave for Bath where I’ll stay for a couple of nights before heading up to the Lake District and visit my Hungarian friend Csabi.