Churchill & Chartwell by Stefan Buczacki
For me, this is turning out to be a ‘Churchill year’. Why? Well, first of all it is the 50th anniversary of his death, which I remember well. In 1965 the nation was in mourning, and because of his status as a war hero, he merited a state funeral. So his anniversary is the inspiration, but his fame and notoriety has also been a moving force. A larger than life character, he inspired as much contempt as he did admiration throughout his life.
This overview of Churchill’s life in Chartwell comes as part of a package that includes all (or most) of Churchill’s frenzy for buying and renting properties, of moving from one house to another, of being a part of that multi-ownership aristocracy that always seemed to have, or acquire, the finances to carry out their flamboyant schemes of rebuilding, refurbishing, altering details here and there…….until everything was just right. Until, of course, the need for change reared its head once again.
This book by Buczacki is his first outside the field of horticulture. It is very specific in its content, and focuses almost entirely on the properties owned or rented by Churchill and his wife Clementine, and more specifically, Chartwell (which we visited only a couple of weeks ago). If you are looking for something more biographical and analytical, this is not for you. And I have to say, I did struggle with some of the minutiae of property alterations, changes to land and gardens, disputes with architects and builders……but most impressive was the ability of these people to think ‘big’ when it came to developing their homesteads.