Sunday, 6 April 2014

Chartwell

Chartwell is partly to blame for this blog. It was the first National Trust property I ever visited and we did the same thing that hundreds of people do; we decided to go for a look round, got there and realised that the National Trust is a bit of a bargain if you join up, instead of paying for a single visit. And so began the series of events that led to the National Trust Scone Blog.

Chartwell was the home of Winston Churchill. He bought it in 1922 for £5000, much to the despair of his wife Clementine, who took one look at it and knew that it was going to be an expensive project. 

Churchill employed the architect Philip Tilden to modernise the place and although Clemmie was right and it did cause a lot of money worries, it acted as a sanctuary for the Churchills right up until he died in 1965. Clementine did not wish to live there after he passed away, so she worked with the National Trust to restore it to its pre-war glory and that's how we see it today.


Chartwell

I could say that I returned to Chartwell because I loved it so much but actually my second visit was inspired by them getting a new cat. It's a lovely little story: for his 88th birthday in 1962, Churchill was given a ginger cat, which he named Jock. Apparently, the cat was so loved by Churchill that meals would not start until Jock was at the table. Anyway, Churchill decreed that Chartwell should always have a ginger cat named Jock in residence and so last month Jock VI arrived at the house.

This was as close as I got to Jock:


Chartwell jars of marmalade

I must have taken leave of my senses expecting a cat to appear on demand. Cats don't do demand, unless they're doing the demanding. I know this, I have one in my home.

Apart from the absence of Jock the cat, it was unexpectedly enjoyable going back to a property I'd visited before. One of the biggest treats was the fantastic new tearoom. I remember the cafeteria being packed to the rafters last time I was there, so I was pleased to see that the National Trust had made some major improvements in the past 14 months. 

The scones themselves were delicious - one plain scone, one fruit scone - nice and big and crisp on the outside:


Chartwell scones

I highly recommend Chartwell. The spirit of Churchill definitely lives on in the house - if he walked in the door behind you, it wouldn't be a surprise - but it also has a strangely modern feel to it. It doesn't feel as 'preserved' as some other properties. It's also very much a home, despite the fact that several rooms are full of fascinating displays and artefacts. It's a fitting tribute to an exceptional man.

Chartwell: 5 out of 5
Scones: 4.5 out of 5
Jock the Cat: 5 out of 5 - we didn't actually see him, but that's cats for you 

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