Thursday, August 09, 2007

Churchill & Chartwell

Winston Churchill once said "A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted." It was his favorite place on earth. Chartwell was purchased by Churchill as his home outside of London during the "Wilderness Years" while he was out of power between World War I and II.

In 1945, after World War II, Churchill feared that his income was no longer sufficient to allow him to maintain Chartwell and a consortium of wealthy friends offered to purchase the property on behalf of the National Trust, on condition that he could continue to live there, at a nominal rent of £350 a year, for the rest of his life. There is some dispute over the purchase price. Sir Martin Gilbert in the Official Biography (Volume VIII, page 304) quotes £43,800 but in Churchill: A Life, page 873, he cites £50,000. Most other sources quote the higher figure. That would have been a fair return on Churchill's total expenditure on the property over more than 20 years, and by the time he died in 1965 its value would have appreciated to over £100,000. In today's money that is in excess of £1 million but, it is stressed, this is merely a "bricks and acres" value and its historical associations and contents are priceless.

Churchill lived there until his death in 1965 at age 90.

Someday I will make my pilgrimage to Chartwell.

For more information on Churchill and Chartwell click on the title for a link to the Churchill Center web site..