What better way to celebrate Winston's birthday (1874-1965) than to introduce readers and tourists to the two Chartwells. The first is his country home located in southeast England in Kent, now a National Treasure and open to the public.
The young military officer, statesman, politician, First Lord of the Admirality and burgeoning artist first alighted on the property in 1922; he immediately fell in love with the modified Elizabethan Manor House and bought the property for his wife Clementine who was likewise enchanted with it. So much work had to be done to refurbish the home that Churchill hired the architect Philip Tilden to transform the structure into a home. The couple finally moved into their homely abode two years later in 1924. (Photo at left is the young Churchill with his fiancee Clementine Hozier, shortly before their marriage in 1908; Photo upper right is Chartwell Manor)
In this very private retreat, where he wrote his memoirs and painted most of his 500 pieces, two rooms of particular interest are the dining room and Churchill's study. A short film produced by the WPA two years after his death takes you into both. There are many videos available online that afford a marvelous tour of the Kent countryside, the Koi ponds, cattle and swans that abound amidst the beautiful display of flora on the grounds. One can only marvel about the view that he had from his study as he composed his memoirs and histories.
The dining room is also the screening room where Winston would entertain his guests with movies.
The other Chartwell is right here in the United States. It is the only bookstore devoted exclusively to books and memorabilia about WC. It is located appropriately along a strand of high ceilinged windowed public arcades that run continuously from 56th to 49th street between Madison and Park Ave in New York City: the booksellers are at the Park Avenue Plaza building on 52nd Street.
I have been in the shop many times and there are many book collections and letters that are personally signed by WC. It's well worth the outing to enjoy the best kept secrets in NYC: the arcades, the flora and the many shops along the way; however, Chartwell is the jewel of them all.
Image source (1)
Image source (2)