Spotlight on Chartwell

PUBLISHED: 17:18 14 February 2015 | UPDATED: 17:18 14 February 2015

The garden front at Chartwell, Kent with neatly mown lawn in the foreground. Originally a Victorian mansion, Philip Tilden created a twentieth century home for Sir Winston Churchill who lived here between 1922 and 1964.

The garden front at Chartwell, Kent with neatly mown lawn in the foreground. Originally a Victorian mansion, Philip Tilden created a twentieth century home for Sir Winston Churchill who lived here between 1922 and 1964.

©NTPL/Flo Smith

Make mother’s day and take her to tea at Chartwell to discover the cosy family home Lady Clementine Churchill created here

Lady Clementine Churchill is often credited as being a tireless supporter of her husband Sir Winston’s high-flying political career, as well as a lady with formidable power as a life peeress in her own right.

Yet, like her Prime Minster husband, she was devoted to her family, raising them at Chartwell, the Churchills’ private country home outside Westerham, which is now in the care of the National Trust.

Born in 1885, Clementine Hozier married Sir Winston Churchill in 1908 after a brief courtship. The couple had five children: a son, Randolph and four daughters named Diana, Sarah, Marigold and Mary.

All the Churchill children enjoyed family life at Chartwell, except for the second youngest, Marigold, who sadly died in 1921 as a toddler, the year before the family bought Chartwell.

For the first few years living at Chartwell, Sir Winston Churchill remained outside of government following an electoral defeat in Dundee. This meant that he and Clementine could concentrate on creating a much-cherished private life in their beautiful new Kentish retreat.

Lady Clementine ran the household at Chartwell and oversaw the care of her children. Initial costly refurbishments lasted two years, which contributed to the fact that she was not always as taken by the place as her husband was.

Despite this, she devoted herself to establishing a cosy family home. The Churchill children enjoyed the freedom of growing up at Chartwell and recalled many happy occasions there with the family.

Lady Clementine’s influence can still be found around the grounds and house today, from her blooming rose garden to the many benches and rooms painted in duck egg blue, her favourite colour. The Golden Rose Walk was a golden wedding anniversary present from her children.

Conflict of duty

The conflict of duty as a politician’s 
wife and a mother was always in Lady Clementine’s mind. According to her youngest daughter Mary, Marigold’s death shook her severely, affecting her attitude towards protecting her surviving children.

Lady Clementine knew she would have to travel a lot with her husband, so she hired a Norland-trained cousin to care for her brood at Chartwell while she travelled around the country. The older Churchill children also spent time at boarding school.

Although Lady Clementine often had to travel without her children, due to her political commitments, she grew closer to Mary as she reached her teens, playing tennis with her regularly and taking her away on skiing holidays. Mary also helped her father build brick walls at Chartwell and enjoyed the free run of ‘Marycot’, her very own Wendy house in the grounds, which still stands in the same spot today.

Mothering Sunday in Kent

Mothering Sunday falls this year on 15 March and is perfectly timed for a day out at Chartwell, exploring the same house and grounds that Lady Clementine Churchill and her family called home.

This year, a special Mothering Sunday afternoon tea is available in the Mulberry Room (advance booking required).

Other events taking place on Mother’s Day in Kent include crafts for children 
at Ightham Mote, as well as free entry for mothers all day at Scotney Castle.

Sissinghurst Castle is serving Sunday roast lunches in the Granary Restaurant with free chocolate treats for mothers. After lunch, you can admire the first spring flowers in full bloom around the garden.

Another beautiful location in which to enjoy a family stroll is Knole in the heart of Sevenoaks, where the 1,000-acre parkland will be at its spring best.

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