Chartwell, National Trust Westerham, Kent
Winston Churchill once said, “A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted”. It’s not hard to see why. Stepping across its threshold and wandering through its intimate rooms feels like an enormous privilege. Visit this wonderful National Trust property and discover Churchill’s passions including champagne and cigars.
Discover Winston Churchill’s love of Champagne and cigars by visiting Chartwell in Kent
The place has real spirit. It’s easy to envisage Winston Churchill sitting at the dinner table, glass of champagne in hand, entertaining his guests with his legendary wit and humour. One of the best ways to enjoy the house and its rooms is to imagine it at meal times and pretend you’re his guest. The very knowledgeable National Trust volunteers will happily answer your questions and provide interesting anecdotes as you wander from room to room. Visit for one of their special Sunday lunches with jazz music or bring a picnic and follow lunch with a long walk in the grounds.
Visit Winston Churchill’s Family Home
Winston Churchill bought Chartwell for £5,000 in 1922 after falling for its views across the Weald of Kent. It was his family home and a place where he could relax and indulge in his many pastimes of painting, animals, farming and, surprisingly, bricklaying.
Look out for a Marmalade Cat
Churchill famously rarely ate breakfast with his wife so, to see a painting of the Churchills having breakfast together at Chartwell, is amusing. You’ll spot a marmalade cat in the painting. Churchill insisted one should always live at Chartwell ‘in comfortable residence’. The current feline regularly receives gifts including packets of tuna from visitors.
Smoke a Cigar
At midday, after a brisk wall in the grounds, Churchill would pour a Cognac in the Library and light a cigar. His preferred cigar was ‘Romeo y Julieta’. You’ll see one next to his armchair waiting to be lit. You can buy cigars (both real and chocolate), in the National Trust gift shop.
Have Tea and Dundee Cake
Teatime was always an important occasion. Churchill’s favourite cake was Dundee cake, a Scottish fruit cake that’s decorated with blanched almonds. There’s one on the Dining Room table. If it makes you peckish, have a slice with a cup of tea in the café after your tour.
Champagne and Cocktails in the Drawing Room
The Churchill family and guests would gather for pre-dinner drinks in the Drawing Room. Winston Churchill simply loved to drink champagne. His favourite was Pol Roger. Today, Pol Roger produce a ‘Cuveé Sir Winston Churchill’. With your imaginary glass of champagne in hand, admire the beautiful Monet painting of London Bridge hanging above the fireplace.
Churchill said himself:
Dine With the Churchills
Churchill was a ‘meat and two veg’ man. As his dinner guest, you would have eaten his favourite dishes – clear soups, Beef Wellington, Irish stew, shepherd’s pie, game and roasts. For dessert, he enjoyed steamed puddings or ice cream with chocolate sauce often followed by a piece of fruit such as a pear and some Stilton cheese. He loved to watch films after dinner so it’s little surprise that one famous guest around the table at Chartwell was Charlie Chaplin.
Inspect the Pots and Pans
In the kitchen, you’ll see a set of copper pans engraved with the initials ‘WSC’. The inside is made of tin. It was common practice to initial them before they were sent for re-tinning.
Stroll Around the Kitchen Garden
Wander around the the Kitchen Garden which yielded huge quantities of fruit and vegetables. The gardener’s diaries reveal that in 1937 alone, over 300 lb of seed potatoes were planted. For many years, he sent twice weekly consignments to the Churchill’s London home
Admire the Brickwork
Take a peek inside the Marycot which Churchill built for his daughters and you’ll see a miniature Aga, fireplace and chandelier. As a skilled brick-layer, Churchill also built a large section of the garden wall.
Enjoy a Picnic in the Meadow
Churchill absolutely loved picnics and insisted on everyone singing Indian army songs. You can take a picnic and eat it in the meadow. There are also various walking routes including a 5 mile circular walk.
- Visit the fascinating Churchill War Rooms in London to see how he lived and worked during the Second World War
- Enjoy Afternoon Tea and a tour of Blenheim Palace near Oxford where Winston Churchill was born
- Combine Blenheim with a tour of the Cotswolds. Book into The Pudding Club for the night and taste traditional English puddings
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Where to Stay
The Bakery Restaurant With Rooms in the village of Tatsfield near Westerham – a good base for exploring the area. Comfortable rooms and a restaurant serving modern British and European dishes.
Hever Castle Luxury Bed & Breakfast in Edenbridge – Stay in a 13th-century double-moated castle set in 125 acres of formal gardens.
They tell me that dogs on short leads are permitted within the gardens and estate and that if I get thirsty, there are water bowls at the café. I’m hoping I’ll spot the marmalade cat!
How to Find Chartwell
National Trust, Chartwell, Mapleton Road, Westerham, Kent TN16 1PS
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The Foodie Travel Guide
Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures.