Kent & Sussex Holiday Cottages hosted its annual Homeowner Lunch at Chartwell on Sunday. A fascinating National Trust volunteer called Guy gave us a very interesting insight into the house and its formidable owner. Winston Churchill bought Chartwell in 1922 without his wife's approval! What a fabulous setting with endless views of the gorgeous Kent countryside. No wonder he loved it so much. Guy primed us to view the house first and foremost as a much loved family home. It more than lived up to his promise with every room recreated as it would have been in the 20s and 30s, apart from those that are filled with memorabilia including gifts from Stalin, Adenauer and Roosevelt and other relics from the war like the Union Flag that was raised in Rome when liberated by allied troops.
Amongst all the historic artefacts are personal mementos many with poignant stories such as the death of baby Marigold in 1921. Churchill's love of painting has been well documented and there are hundreds of examples of his works throughout the house and studio. All the owners who attended and took the tour found it totally rivetting. Air Marshall Sir Freddie Sowrey, owner of The Stables at Heron's Ghyll, brought photographs of himself with Churchill during the war. It was humbling to be reminded how much we owed brave men like Sir Freddie and Guy who fought in the air force and navy to preserve the freedoms we enjoy today.
As Guy pointed out, our company name has a particular resonance in the inspirational home of Sir Winston Churchill. As always, we left the day thinking where next? But, luckily, we live in a region rich in history and beauty so we know we'll have another thrilling story to tell in 2012!