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Home > New Search > Chartwell (Well Street)

Chartwell (Well Street)  England 
Westerham, Kent, England

Circa Date: 15th century core w/19th and 20th century alterations

Status: Fully Extant

Special Info / Location/ Date

Special Info
Phonetic Pronunciation of House Name

District Today
 Historic County
 City / Town / Village

Start Date
Completion Date
Circa Date
15th century core w/19th and 20th century alterations

Entrance Façade

Click on thumbnail for a larger view

Entrance Façade
Garden Façade
The Front Wall
Side and Rear

Designed   Remodeled House for Winston Churchill. Designed Marlborough Pavilion.
Date   1922-24

Extant / Listed / References

Extant Type
Fully Extant
Extant Details

House Listed As 
Grade II
Gardens Listed As  
Grade II*
Country House:  Yes

Vitruvius Britannicus
Vitruvius Scoticus
J.B. Burke (Burke's Visitation of Seats)
Country Life
CXXXVII, 169, 1965.
J.P. Neale (Neale's Views of Seats)
Access / Ownership / Seat

Open to Public Please note: Houses listed as being open "By Appointment" are usually country house hotels, B&Bs, or schools.
Historic Houses Association Member
Phone Number If calling from the U.S., delete the first "0" in British numbers.
Fax Number

Current Ownership
Current Ownership Type
The National Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use
Visitor Attraction
Current Ownership Use / Details

Seat ("Seat" is loosely defined as any family that occupied the house for a period of 2 years or more)
Today Seat of
A Past Seat(s) of
Potter family, 16th century. Campbell Colquhoun, 19th century. Sir Winston Churchill, 20th century.
Possible (Unsure) Seat of
History / Gardens & Park / Movies

Earlier House(s) / Building(s)
House Replaced By
Built / Designed For
House & Family History
The core of the red brick Chartwell is 15th century; however, the oldest part, now occupied by Churchill’s study, was built in 1086, making it 10 years older than Westminster Hall in London. In the 16th century the Estate, then called Well Street, was the seat of the Potter family. Legend has it that Henry VIII slept in an oak-paneled room (long gone) at Chartwell while he was courting Anne Boleyn at nearby Hever Castle. The name of the House comes from the clear spring, the Chart Well, on the Estate. In the mid-19th century Chartwell was remodeled and enlarged (adding bays, oriels, and two wings) by the Campbell-Colquhoun family, leaving the House, by all accounts, rather unattractive. Chartwell was purchased by Winston Churchill using an inheritance from his first cousin once removed, Lord Herbert Vane-Tempest. He bought the House and 80 acres for £5,000 (approximately £200,000 in 2007 inflation-adjusted values) from A.J. Campbell Colquhoun in 1922. Winston had just lost his seat in Parliament when he purchased Chartwell and was particularly captivated by the House’s magnificent views over the Weald of Kent, which he found very relaxing and an inspiration for his writing. Between 1922 and 1924 Churchill engaged the architect Philip Tilden (Tilden was recommended to Churchill by Sir Philip Sassoon) to rebuild Chartwell (at a cost of £18,000); the work included creating Churchill’s second floor Study, in which the ceiling was opened up to reveal the old roof timbers. Tilden stripped away Victorian trimmings and added gables and a new wing that included a Dining Room, a Drawing Room, and Clementine’s bedroom. On the Entrance Front Tilden installed an 18th century wooden doorcase, purchased for £25 from London antique fittings dealer Thomas Crowther. Crowther also supplied many of the cast iron firebacks and paneled doors in the House, as well as the ship weathervane on the roof. During the summer of 1923, when Chartwell was being reconstructed, the Churchill family let a nearby house named Hosey Rigg; Churchill referred to the house as “Cosy Pig” (Winston and Clementine were very fond of nicknames) and was delighted to learn that Lewis Carroll had written “Alice in Wonderland” there. Though Churchill and Tilden were barely speaking by the end of the restoration work at Chartwell, many years later Tilden wrote “No client that I have ever had, considering his well-filled life, has ever spent more time, trouble, or interest in the making of his home than did Mr. Churchill.” During World War II two East End mothers and their seven children were evacuated from London to Chartwell; they didn’t stay long, as they quickly grew homesick for their own homes and became tired of the country. The rooms and gardens today remain much as they were when the Churchills lived here, with pictures, books, maps, and personal mementoes strongly evoking the career and wide ranging interests of Churchill. Sir Winston wrote virtually all his books at Chartwell and hosted a wide variety of visitors at the House, from Charlie Chaplin to Lawrence of Arabia, and all stripes of politicians. In 1946 a group of the Churchills’ admirers and friends purchased Chartwell and gave it to the National Trust, under the condition that Winston and Clementine could continue to live there for their lifetimes. In 1965, after Sir Winston’s death, Clementine took the decision to no longer live at Chartwell, and gave it over completely to the National Trust, who opened it to the public in 1966. In 1955 Churchill declined an offer by Queen Elizabeth of a dukedom (1st Duke of London), the only non-royal offered a dukedom since 1874. The Churchill surname has had an interesting journey. Burke’s Peerage gives the family origin as coming from Gitto de Leon, whose son was Wandril de Leon, Lord of Courcil. The name then changed from "de Courcil" to "de Chirchil" and ultimately "Churchill."
Collections This field lists art objects that are currently or were previously in the collection of the house.

For information on the history of British currency, click here.  To use a chart that allows you to compare the purchasing power of money In Great Britain from 1264 to any other year, including the present, click here.  To use a currency conversion to see the current value of the British pound, click here.
Churchill said this about the House: “I love the place - a day away from Chartwell is a day wasted.”

Gardens & Park
Garden, Park, Follies and Outbuildings
The terraced gardens contain the lakes Sir Winston created, the Water Garden, Lady Churchill’s Rose Garden, and the Golden Rose Walk, a Golden Wedding anniversary gift from their children. Many of Sir Winston’s paintings can be seen in the Garden Studio. Philip Tilden designed the Marlborough Pavilion, a summer house folly that was decorated in 1949 by John Spencer Churchill (Winston’s nephew) with trompe l’oeil plaques and murals that celebrate the Marlborough wars.
Chapel & Church

Location for Movies / TV
"Young Winston" (1972). "A History of Britain" (2000 - TV documentary series). "The Gathering Storm" (2002 - BBC TV movie).

Author   NA
Year Published   NA
Reference   Number 96, Summer 2002, pg. 10

Author   Aslet, Clive
Year Published   2005
Reference   pgs. 61-62

Author   NA
Year Published   2002
Reference   pgs. 6, 12-16, 18-19

Author   Manchester, William
Year Published   1983
Reference   pgs. 771-774, 776

Author   Manchester, William
Year Published   1988
Reference   pgs. 4-5, 410, 604

Author   Stansky, Peter
Year Published   2003
Reference   pg. 138

Author   NA
Year Published   NA
Reference   Autumn 2016, pg. 27

There are no documents associated with this house.

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