Appeal for donations to Chartwell

PUBLISHED: 15:47 21 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:47 21 November 2016

Chartwell showing Churchill's Studio

Chartwell showing Churchill's Studio

Archant

A £7.1m appeal has been launched by the National Trust to reinvigorate 
the legacy of one of Britain’s greatest statesmen, Sir Winston Churchill. 
Words by: Emma Ward. Pictures courtesy of: National Trust Images

A collection of Churchill's personal possessions, including the oak box in which Sir Winston kept notes for his famous speechesA collection of Churchill's personal possessions, including the oak box in which Sir Winston kept notes for his famous speeches

“A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted” – so wrote Sir Winston Churchill. Fifty years ago, the National Trust opened Chartwell, his former home in Westerham, to visitors for the first time.

To safeguard his legacy for future generations, a newly launched £7.1m appeal hopes to acquire hundreds of personal possessions and precious heirlooms and open family rooms that have never been seen by the public.

Money raised by the appeal will also pay for new information points and audio interpretation across the house and grounds and increase public access to the fascinating collections inside.

Katherine Barnett, House and Collection Manager, says: “This appeal will enable us to tell Sir Winston’s story in new and dynamic ways to capture public imagination for generations to come.

“We’re planning to open several family rooms that have never gone on display before, including the nursery wing and Sir Winston’s private bedroom and bathroom. These rooms will help add to the overall picture of Sir Winston as not just a formidable politician, but also a happily devoted husband and father who cherished the times he spent at Chartwell.”

Chartwell is the only place in the world where Sir Winston’s personal possessions can be seen in their original domestic setting. Items on long-term loan there that the National Trust would like to acquire include his library of nearly 900 inscribed books, as well as dozens of medallions, statues, gifts and awards received from well-wishers and political leaders across the globe.

One especially interesting artefact taking centre stage is the House of Commons Book, a beautiful leather-bound volume that was signed by almost all the MPs serving at the time of Sir Winston’s 80th birthday (except for five, who objected on principle) and presented to the still-serving Prime Minister on his birthday (see also page 36).

Personal mementoes with great significance and poignancy identified as part of the appeal include the oak box in which Sir Winston kept notes for his famous speeches and his miniature silver paintbox, a reminder of his passion for art.

Even Sir Winston’s pair of hairbrushes, made from the deck timbers of HMS Exeter, a Second World War ship, are of interest. Only two other pairs of brushes were made from the wood; one for the ship’s captain and the other for King George VI.

Other objects represent different aspects of a long and eventful life; his writing work, and passion for painting, farming and wildlife. According to Katherine, Sir Winston spoke often about his wish for a museum to be opened to the public at Chartwell after his death.

“He recognised the importance of the gifts and memorabilia he was honoured by and entrusted with during his time as Prime Minister. He wanted the souvenirs of his time in politics to go on display alongside his personal possessions, as part of his legacy to the country he loved.”

The National Trust hopes to raise the £7.1m it needs by January 2017 to secure the collection and enable the wider project work to begin. Two exhibitions are planned. Child of the Commons, 12 November to 19 February (except 24 and 25 December), 11am-3pm, unveils the public story of Sir Winston in the setting of his family home with artefacts from his public and private life on display.

From 31 December to 24 February, 11am-4pm, a Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition will tell the story of Chartwell from when it opened its doors to the public in 1966 to the present day, through the eyes of local communities.

Find out more

To donate to the appeal, or for further information, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chartwell-revive. Or call 0344 800 1895 to pledge your donation over the phone.

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