As we are living in London, very often than not we get really tired of London’s craziness – traffic jam, crowds everywhere and just hassle. Whenever we get a chance, we try and escape from London into beautiful English countryside. English countryside is very well looked after and is thriving, which I find almost phenomenal, because the place I am coming from has hardly any civilisation outside the capital.
This time Mr J decided that it’s time for us to visit Mr Churchill’s beloved place of residence – Chartwell, which is just two miles south of Westerham, Kent. It took us about 1,5 hours to get there from London one Sunday afternoon.
The road to Chartwell is rather picturesque as well, especially as you get closer and you get to see the beautiful little villages and pubs scattered around. Because I had 1,5 hours to play with, I was mainly taking pictures of everything around me, including Mr J, who is tolerating my photogpraher urges very well. But he is, after all, a true Englishman and notorious of manners and tolerance, so I am safe!
Chartwell belongs to National Trust, so you have to buy tickets to get in. It will costs you about £28 for two adult tickets, but if you are determined enough to pay National Trust heritage visits regularly enough, you can just pay £98 a year for two adults annual tickets and visit all National Trust sites all year long! I, obviously, couldn’t resist the temptation to become a member of National Trust and we signed up for the year, so watch out, National Trust! I will be back!
Once you are in, you need to find a parking space. Apparently, Chartwell is rather popular place in Kent, because it was just packed! Not that we were running from London to avoid crowds… But it was not that bad after all. Chartwell has got a huge park around it and half of the visitor just go there for picnics as there are some absolutely lovely views.
What to do in Chartwell?
If you don’t fancy having a picnic, then there are several option of what you can do in Chartwell. Because the area is so big and so green and flamboyant with all the greens and flowers, you can always pretend that you are 3 years old and do some silly things. Like hiding behind the branches and taking pictures, it works especially well when you have Mr J around as he is just an expert in pretending being a child again,
You might as well go inside the house and have a sneaky peak into the rooms where the most notorious Prime Minister lived. I have to say, that I just love social history. Nothing else excites me more than walking around the rooms, imagining life stories and dramas that had happened there and sometimes you can even catch the smell of the history. It’s just fascinating. Beats sitting in an overcrowded London or going to a bar for sure!
Because it was Churchill’s house, it has books everywhere and for a bookworm like myself, it was a very pleasant sight. There are several studies around the house and I was taking mental notes, because one day I want to have the same study with a mahogany table! I will write there my memoirs that I will never finish when I will be in my 80s and it will make me very happy.
As you walk around the house, there are quite a bit of exhibitions showing Churchill’s gifts from the royals and presidents around the world and one very interesting room with some of his formal and civil attire. It is quite a sight, because apparently Churchill did like dressing up, which is not that surprising considering that he was quite a character.
Being a woman, I obviously noticed the most important story of the house – Churchill proposed to his wife 5 months after their first meeting and they had a life-long romance, when they loved each other deeply till their deaths. Churchill, however, decided to marry Clementine almost immediately after he met her, because she did have that air of mystery around her and a touch of the exotic in her almond-eyed beauty. Which proves the point that when you meet the true love, you will know it almost immediately and can be in love with each other for the rest of your life.
Winks to Mr J.
For some reason, Clementine didn’t quite like Chartwell as much as Churchill did and after he died, she moved out and was living in London. She was into theatre and active social life, but that’s probably because she hasn’t been living in the modern London, which is just mad and way too busy.
Chartwell is beautiful no matter where you look. Outside it is just a house from a magic fairytale.
The park around it with all the trees, flowers and pergola.
The atmosphere is just all about laugh and love. While I was emerging myself into the atmosphere of tranquility and happiness, Mr J was my little spy with a camera, which resulted in a beautiful depiction of the moment.
After we felt that we have had enough of history for one day, we decided it’s time to get some food to keep us going before heading back to London. On the way out I couldn’t miss this horse though, how clever is this? If I could, I would have a horsey like this in my garden. Same goes with the cute piglet figures, it reminds me of someone I know and love and I see every day, same level of cuteness.
As the cafe at Chartwell looked way too busy to our taste, we decided to head to Westerham, which is best described as a doll town. Just too cute! They are also obviously obsessed with Churchill, as he is everywhere. It definitely adds the charm to the experience of going to Chartwell, so I thoroughly recommend to visit Westerham on the way out.
Since it was a quintessentially British day, we ended up in a local pub looking for food. The good news is that we did manage to find some nutritious food there, going to a pub doesn’t mean all you can eat is fish and chips, so Mr J went for a Chicken and Bacon Caesar Salad, when I opted for Smoked Haddock on a Spinach Bed with some egg and potatoes
(no, not carbs again!).
It wasn’t a complete success food wise, because my smoked haddock was way too saulty and tasted too much like Tesco value smoked haddock, as for some not very clever reason, due to pure naivety, I hoped that it will be smoked locally instead of bought from a shop. You wish! The problem with mainstream smoked products is that they are not smoked in a special oven, as it takes hours. It is covered with specials chemicals that causes the smoked effect in a couple of hours. Boom! Just use some special liquid and save yourself hours of the precious time. Great for supermarkets and profit margin, not so good for you. So choose wisely!
If you have a day off and you really want to do something special, choose a place on a map and go there with no fear. England is beautiful, so don’t waste your time, time to be a little explorer!