Churchill of Chartwell

Talk by Heather Woodward 8th January 2015

Algy Hoare was not able to tell us about the Wadhurst Brass Band in January as he was in hospital as a result of an accident.  We wish him well.

Heather gave us a wonderful insight into the life of Winston Churchill and his family and their life at his beloved Chartwell.  We looked at Churchill the man and his failures and of course his successes.  But joyfully this was a study of him and not at all about politics.

Winston Churchill’s childhood was not entirely happy, his nanny became his lifeline and she even visited him when he was at school at Harrow.  He gradually made his way into politics.  It was said that when you first met Churchill you might see a great many faults but later you would grow to appreciate all his talents.

Churchill fell in love with Chartwell and wanted to buy it, his wife Clementine did not – she saw the problems and costs of running such an establishment.  However he won and purchased the house in 1922 for £5,000 but with then major alterations, which cost £18,000, before the family moved in !  The four children loved it and Churchill’s youngest daughter Mary Soames , who died last year always supported the National Trust with its preservation work at Chartwell.  Churchill could relax here, he loved to sit by the pond and watch the Koi Carp swimming about and he took up painting very successfully.  His studio at Chartwell now houses the largest single collection of his paintings.  He looked on painting as a distraction to absorb the mind without exhausting the body.

We were given delightful insights into Churchill family life at Chartwell, followed by the war years when he was only able to visit Chartwell on five occasions.  After the war in 1946, when the  Churchills found they could no longer afford to live there, Chartwell was bought by a group of Churchill’s friends and the Churchill family moved back to Chartwell paying only a nominal rent.  The talk concluded with some wonderful pictures of the State Funeral in 1965 .

Heather had excellent slides to show us throughout and brought the whole extraordinary story of Churchill and Chartwell to life in a most interesting way.  Her  talk was very much enjoyed by all of us.