|So much fun in the grounds, hill rolling, daisy chain making and just relaxing back and dreaming...|
If I start by saying that I want to live the rest of my days in the grounds of Chartwell I think you might realise how much I loved it there.
We visited a couple of weeks ago on the Saturday of the May bank holiday weekend, so it was pretty busy and we were directed to the overflow parking. The sun was not shining too bright but it was a nice enough day that we braved a picnic before setting off to explore. I think the word a lady used when she saw us picnicking was 'hardy' but it was fun.
Chartwell is situated about a 15 minute drive from the A21 and the M25 and we found it easily using the brown directional signs. There is plenty of parking and a nice designated picnic area with benches by the overflow car park. There is only one set of public toilets on site and whilst they are large and well maintained you have a bit of a walk from the house back to the visitor centre where the cafe, shop and toilets are.
Viewings of the house are by timed entrance and this is good as it means it does not get too crowded. even on a busy bank holiday weekend we were able to gain entry to the house as soon as we arrived. We enjoyed the stroll up to the house through the gardens as they are very interesting and the kids enjoyed seeing all the different water areas with fish, black swans and unusual looking plants.
I'm not sure I'm supposed to have been taking photos in the house as no-one else was but I captured a few and it was so interesting to walk around Sir Winston Churchill's home and to see how he lives, what he read and the pursuits he enjoyed. There is of course loads of memorabilia form his life, uniforms, medals, photos, letters and loads more and if WWII is your area of interest then you will spend a good couple of hours in here.
As always we found the guides in the rooms to be knowledgeable and open to the questions that the children had. I do love that my kids are always welcome and accepted in National Trust properties even thought they are lively and inquisitive. We were given informational sheets to take with us and there were appropriate ones for both children and adults and in fact they came in many different languages too.
At the end of the tour there is currently an exhibition called 'Death of a Hero' which runs until 1 November 2015 as it has been the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston's death. Again this was interesting for me but even more so to talk to the children about what they were seeing.
After the house we headed down to the studio and here there are dozens of pieces of artwork that Sir Winston painted himself. There was a big sign here asking us not to take any photos so I respected that and cannot show you anything but there were some superb ones. I particularly loved the enormous 50" globe that had been presented to Sir Winston when he was Prime Minster and another given to the US president by the US war department in 1942. It was really interesting to see how the world looked back then and how many changes there has been in the last 80 odd years.
It was then time for some outside fun and after a lovely relax on the lawn overlooking the lake we headed off for one of the trails in the woodland area. The tree swings (there are about 8 or 9 of them in total) were glorious and I'd go back again for these alone. There was not any massive queues so we were able to get on and really enjoy lots of them. The top double swing is particularly special and I was well impressed that it held both mine and my husbands combined weight!
We also headed up through the beech coppice, which was covered in wonderful bluebells and the kids enjoyed the door mouse dens, and the bomb crater ripe climbing area. I mentioned to my husband that the National Trust always get it just right, fun for the kids and a bench for the adults so we were happy to chat away and enjoy the view whilst the children run off their energy.
I suspect you can tell we really enjoyed Chartwell and we will go back again. Personally I'd advise membership for the National Trust, as once you do 3 or 4 visits as members it has paid for itself. Before you join make sure you google for National Trust voucher deals as you can very often get 2 months free if you sign up for direct debit payment and I also went via a cashback site to make money that way too, you have to shop smart!
I'm joining up with the super Fiona for Country Kids -
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