Chartwell is an amazing historic house, set in beautiful parkland. Less than an hour out of London, it is the perfect spot for a weekend day out - with the family, or without.
Winston Churchill bought it as a home to bring up his family in. He was so keen that his children should find it as much to their liking as his, he brought them to visit it to give their seal of approval before the sale went through. It's not difficult to see why his children loved it, or why he set up his artist's studio to paint there in his leisure hours. The house is on a estate with long woodland walks, or you can stroll by the side of the lake with its pair of black swans. There are formal flower gardens to admire and an huge sloping lawn where you can simply sit with a picnic.
The house itself is fascinating,stuffed with fine art and furniture, and each room has a knowledgeable steward who is able to tell you stories about the family, answer any questions and give you the inside track on some of the rooms and how the Churchill's used them. On my visit they were equally comfortable and accommodating to adults with factual questions and stimulating the curiosity of smaller children. There is one room devoted to gifts of state and another that houses the various uniforms and robes Winston Churchill had to wear on state and formal occasions. It is in the house that you get a real sense of the man himself: there is the desk he liked to stand up and work at, the books, and the pictures everywhere - his own and that of artists including Monet.
For people interested in World War II there is plenty of material and the last room in the house is devoted to a timeline exhibition of Winston and Clementine Churchill's life together. Walk where the great man walked, sit in the garden by the pond and think your own great thoughts. Chartwell is somewhere that will take a day of your time if you let it. For those mainly interested in the house allow half a day.
There is ample car parking, but a small charge. There is also a coffee shop, restaurant and shop on site, but before you gain admittance to the estate. It's a wonderful day out - everyone should visit, at least once.