The Heritage Trail explores West Kent--South-East England [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Linda Lee
eBook Category: Travel/History
eBook Description: Renowned as the 'Garden of England', Kent is as famous for its blossom and orchards as it is for its rich and diverse heritage. From the moment the Romans landed on our southern shores, Kent's landscape was carved out with solid roads, military settlements, and major towns. The county can now boast two thousand years of living history, with at least some fragment surviving from every period of its development. This book explores 30 of West Kent's Historic monuments, some well known, others not, but all open to the public at certain times throughout the year. Each article comprises a colour photograph, an historical overview, and an information panel containing opening times, grid reference, address, telephone number, and web site details (where applicable)
eBook Publisher: Heritage Trail Publications Ltd, Published: 2004
Fictionwise Release Date: April 2004
For the purpose of this excerpt the photograph and information table have been removed
Over 400 years ago there may have been a modest farmhouse on this hill-top location commanding a view of The Weald, but when Winston Churchill arrived here in 1921 he found a gloomy Victorian structure that appeared lost in the overgrowth. Undaunted by the neglected state of the property, Churchill had visions of owning a house in such a spectacular setting and by the autumn of 1922 he was able to complete the purchase of his Kentish home.
During the next eighteen months the unattractive Victorian country house was transformed and modernised to accommodate the needs of Winston, his wife Clementine, and their four young children. Chartwell, named from the ?Chart Well? that fed the original lake, was once described as a ?dreary house ..... weary of its own ugliness?. On completion of the building works, the house had been substantially extended, and a large number of rooms enjoyed a garden aspect, making the most of the lush valley scenery. Although Clementine never regarded the house as an architectural delight, she spent years decorating and furnishing the interiors to make them comfortably practical.
While she was absorbed in her indoor activities, Winston Churchill was putting his practical skills to work in the gardens. He spent hours digging out and extending the old lake, until he was satisfied that it could no longer be confused with a large pond. He created a second lake, built a swimming pool, and indulged himself in the construction of a rock garden and waterfall. Churchill was also a competent bricklayer, building a little summerhouse for his youngest daughter, brick walls to enclose various garden areas, and a cottage. A lot of the planting was left to Clementine, who seemed to have the ability to create a simplistic theme with the most striking effects. Being outdoors was something Churchill loved, and the gardens created at Chartwell encapsulate his energy and enthusiasm as a worker, and an artist.
Until the outbreak of War in 1939, life must have seemed idyllic at Chartwell. There was space for the Churchills to enjoy their growing family, a study where Churchill had privacy and peace to conduct his political business or continue his literary efforts, a studio where he could paint, and ample accommodation for weekend entertaining. From the time he became Prime Minister in 1940, signalling his return to London, the house was effectively closed up. Churchill was able to make the occasional brief visit to Chartwell, seeking some solace in his gardens, but these were only momentary escapes from the mounting pressures of War and politics. In 1945 when the Churchills returned to their country home, they were faced with the daunting task of cleaning up after several years of abandonment. Consequently the house was rearranged for economic and practical reasons to accommodate the elderly Winston and Clementine, who now preferred to spend most winters in Europe.
After Churchill's death in 1965, the house was restored to its pre-war appearance as a lasting memory to the life and times of a great man. He was a good husband, a loving father, a brilliant writer, an avid painter, gardener, and builder as well as becoming one of the most respected politicians of the twentieth century. Today, this charming residence, loved by Churchill from the day he first set eyes on it, admirably reflects all the facets of his long career by much memorabilia displayed throughout the house. It was Clementine's...