Visitors to the gardens of the National Trust owned Chartwell near Westerham, the former home of Sir Winston Churchill, were thrilled to come across Prince Charles who spent two hours there to see the work that has been done to ensure the house and its collection remain accessible to the nation
The Prince of Wales, President of the National Trust was welcomed to Chartwell by Viscount de Lisle, Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Sir Nicholas Soames and Lady Soames, and Trust chairman Tim Parker.
He was at Chartwell to see the work of the Trust and the important collection at the property, and to thank those who have pledged money to the National Trust’s appeal to secure hundreds of Churchill’s possessions for the nation.
A public appeal for £7.1 million was launched in September last year. The appeal has now reached the £6 million mark, thanks to a grant of £3.45 million from The National Lottery and generous donations and pledges from the public, charitable trusts and other organisations which have enabled the conservation charity to acquire many important items.
The Prince was given a tour of the house by general manager Zoe Colbeck and, thanks to volunteers, was able to see some of the objects that have been secured through the appeal - among them Churchill’s speech box; a collection of over 40 medals; freedom awards from many towns, cities and countries; drawings and paintings of Churchill’s parents; and a commemorative birthday book signed by almost every sitting MP in 1954 on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
In addition to securing objects in the collection, money raised from the appeal will also enable new rooms and spaces to be opened, including Churchill’s bedroom, along with interactive interpretation and educational programmes.
Zoë Colbeck said: “It was a great honour to welcome The Prince of Wales to Chartwell and to introduce him to staff, volunteers and some of the many people across the world who have supported the appeal.
“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people and we would like to thank Trust members and supporters, players of the National Lottery, and organisations such as the Wolfson Foundation and the Royal Oak Foundation, for helping us to keep such an important collection at Chartwell and to undertake a three year project to ensure Churchill’s legacy is relevant for the 21st century.”