Monday, 10 July 2017

Kent weekend Part 1

Wow, what a busy weekend I have had.  My eldest son lives in Kent and so I made a long weekend of it and as the weather has been so sunny and as I am a member of the National Trust I decided to use my membership to go visiting a place I have long wanted to visit - Chartwell, the home of Sir Winston Churchill.

What a wonderful place it was and so interesting.  I wandered up to the gardens surrounding the house
Lady Churchill's rose garden
The East wing
The rose garden
Black swans on the lake
and joined a group to go round the house.  All entries are timed, but I did spend quite a long time in there, but unfortunately no photography allowed.  The views from the house of the Kent High Weald were stunning and far reaching and have hardly changed since Churchill's time.  I spent sometime in Churchill's studio because he painted well over 500 pictures which now fetch huge sums of money.

In the afternoon  a volunteer showed us round the garden which was extremely informative.  He took us  to the wall round the vegetable garden that Churchill built himself at 100 bricks per hour -
He was an expert bricklayer

Unfortunately he was not so good at the foundations and the walls have had to be buttressed or they would fall down!!   However he did build this all by himself and roofed it -
The 'Marycot'

a small house with an adult size door for his little daughter, Mary.

In the vegetable garden I spotted these with lots of fruit on it - a Physalis that I didn't know we could grow in this country.
A view of the Kent Weald from the garden

The front of the house
Our tour finished at the front of the house and the flag flying was Churchill's as he was a Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and this can be flown by his family in perpetuity.  However one very interesting plaque was pointed out to us -

Churchill was very short of money and in debt in 1947, but a group of his wealthy friends and admirers clubbed together and bought Chartwell from him with the proviso that his family could live there until his death and then it was to be presented to the National Trust.  The great man spent his very final years sitting beside his pond feeding his Golden Orfe and his chair is still there though you can't walk over the bridge now.

The following day was another trip to a National Trust property - Batemans at Burwash.  I loved this house which was bought by Rudyard Kipling after he and his wife returned from the USA in 1902.  I was brought up on his books which my mother used to read to us.

This was a much more intimate house and garden and I knew I would like it when I saw the kitchen garden as I walked in,  full of vegetables growing well.
The kitchen garden

 The house

 that you could wander around at your leisure and there were copies of letters to his children and extracts from the life of the domestic staff dictated after his death and photography was allowed indoors!!  I spent ages inside.
Kipling's study

Then outside into the gardens that were lovely at this time of the year with roses etc.

The rose garden and pond where Kipling kept a small craft like a pedalo for his guests entertainment.

Finally I walked through the woods to the Mill and came on this plaque below.  I hadn't realised that Rudyard Kipling wrote the famous words as part of a poem, which makes them seem particularly poignant following the death of his son John in 1915.
'Lest We Forget' by Rudyard Kipling
Two homes owned by completely different people but I found both so moving to visit.


  1. Lovely visits to the two houses, one of which I visited last year. Chartwell. It was definitely worth waiting in the garden till we were allowed in & if I remember rightly, there was some work being done on the roof of one section to make it water tight & lots of scaffolding too. I loved both the house & gardens. We also visited another NT property in that part of the country, and it wasn't Batemans, but something owned by a socialite & we even got to go on one of their special tours to rooms not normally open to the public. I should do a belated post about some of our trip last year, as I didn't have i'net access sometimes. Have a good week & take care.

  2. A busy weekend full of interesting places Carol. Lovely !!