Inspirational . . .
Regarded as the greatest British statesman, Winston Churchill’s beloved home of Chartwell is a ‘must see’ for history buffs. The house and garden, and its 80 acre estate nestled in the Kentish Weald, gave Churchill inspiration. It inspired his writing, his painting, his landscape gardening and above all, it inspired him to remain focused and determined during his 1930s ‘wilderness years’ before being called to lead his country in the greatest challenge of the 20th century. This relaxed family home is just as it was during Churchill’s lifetime. Filled with books, family mementoes, photos and paintings, there is no better way to explore the life of this extraordinary and inspirational statesman, writer, painter and wartime leader.
Green fingered genius . . .
Gardens don’t always tell a story. But this one most certainly does. For this is Sissinghurst, the garden created by Vita Sackville West, as famous for her lifestyle and personality as she was for her gardening skills. Vita was famous as Virginia Woolf’s lover. She was also passionately creative being a prodigious writer of fiction, poetry and gardening literature. Sissinghurst is perhaps one of the, if not the most influential English garden with its effusions of style, structure and colour. Hailed as ‘England’s rose queen ‘ by American journalists, Sissinghurst has inspired countless garden designers the world over. Her ‘white garden’ has become a legend, as has her skill in creating a garden of surprising modernity, an amazing feat for this self-taught horticultural genius.
Talk of the Tudors . . .
Tudor is the word which immediately springs to mind for Hever Castle. The childhood home of Ann Boleyn, and later owned by Henry VIII’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, the castle boasts sugar-twist Tudor chimneys, illustrious Tudor portraits and an interior which transports you through the pages of English history. Its latter owner was equally famous, and similarly smitten by Tudor history, for William Waldorf Astor, the Edwardian American magnate, was responsible for building the entire ‘Tudor Village’. The gardens with their ancient yew and contrasting contemporary water maze, boating lake and Italianate formal borders make this castle a place of total fascination.
Tiptoe through history . . .
Penshurst Place, feted as the best preserved example of a defended manor house, has been the family home of the Sidney family since 1552. Yet its origins extend a further two hundred years into history, making the house a glorious amalgam of medieval and Tudor architecture with much more besides. If the walls could talk they would tell stories of the hunting exploits of Henry VIII and his entourage; of the famed English Renaissance poet and Penshurst heir, Sir Philip Sidney; of the visit by Victorian poet Elizabeth Barratt Browning and of the conversations between novelist Virginia Woolf and her friend and lover, Vita Sackville West, as they explored an almost deserted war-time Penshurst. Explore Penshurst’s historic interior, and you too will be adding to its history . . .