The property was bought by Sir Winston Churchill for its magnificent views over the Weald of Kent. Chartwell was his home and the place from which he drew inspiration from 1924 until the end of his life. Lord Camrose formed a consortium of wealthy businessmen to purchased the estate in 1946 when it became clear that the Churchills could no longer afford to run the property. The agreement was that both Sir Winston and Lady Churchill could rent the property for a nominal amount and that they would have the right to live there until they both died, at which point the property would be presented to the National Trust. When Sir Winston died in 1965, Clementine decided to present Chartwell to the National Trust immediately.
The house has been preserved as it would have looked when Churchill owned it. The house is Grade I listed for historical reasons.
The gardens at Chartwell was designed by Sir Winston and Lady Churchill, with the Malborough Pavilion designed by Philip Tilden. The style is Arts and Crafts, with a grass terrace in front of the house, a walled garden to one side and an ‘informal’ area on the other.
The gardens are listed Grade II. Sir Winston Churchill’s loved his garden and spent many happy hours in it; just above one of the ponds is a chair where he use to sit feeding the fish. At the bottom of the Kitchen Garden, nestled against the wall famously built by Churchill, stands the Marycot. This miniature little house was built for Mary Churchill, the youngest of Sir Winston’s children. The little red brick playhouse has a real fireplace, bay window, and miniaturised furniture, all perfectly scaled. A dream for any little girl!
Sir Winston was passionate about Chartwell; he built the garden walls, the ponds and pools, and both Sarah and Mary assisted him in his bricklaying labours. The legacy left behind is quite romantic and charming.
If you are on your way to Sissinghurst Castle, pop into Chartwell, it is well worth the visit.