Charting Churchill: Garden Wall at Chartwell, Westerham

by Leslie Hossack

Garden Wall at Chartwell, Westerham 2014 by Leslie Hossack

Garden Wall at Chartwell, Westerham 2014

© Leslie Hossack

During the 1930s, Winston Churchill spent a great deal of time at his country home Chartwell where he wrote a number of articles and books. In 1929, he hired Maurice Ashley as his research assistant. For four years Ashley worked with Churchill, focusing on the Duke of Marlborough. The first volume of Marlborough: His Life and Times was published in 1933.

Years later, at the 1989 Churchill Society International Convention in London, Dr. Maurice Ashley gave an address called As I Knew Him: Churchill in the Wilderness. Ashley remarked: “A typical day when Churchill was working at Chartwell began with his taking breakfast in bed. There he read his newspapers and letters and would dictate answers and directions to one of his secretaries (two were usually on duty during the day). Then he went into the garden to engage in building and other activities. He came in around twelve o’clock and I was called in to help with work on his book on Marlborough… As I have already mentioned, when I was with him he would spend as much as five hours a day in the garden at Chartwell building wall after wall, occasionally painting, feeding the ducks, walking around the estate, supervising the work done there.”

After dinner, Churchill would go upstairs at about 10:00 pm to work again on his book, assisted by his secretary, Mrs. Violet Pearman, and Maurice Ashley. Ashley would later recall that when he left at about 3:00 am, Churchill would read in bed, getting about four hours steep. At the end of a day he would often say: “I laid about 200 bricks and have written 2,000 words.”

A tablet on one of the Chartwell garden walls reads: THE GREATER PART OF THIS WALL WAS BUILT BETWEEN THE YEARS 1925 AND 1932 BY WINSTON WITH HIS OWN HANDS.

The image featured above is part of the limited edition collector’s portfolio created by Leslie Hossack. She presents locations that chart Sir Winston Churchill’s personal and political life, from his birth at Blenheim Palace in 1874 until his death in London in 1965. THE CHURCHILL PHOTOGRAPHS are part of Hossack’s larger body of work that explores Nazi architecture in Berlin, Stalinist structures in Moscow, contested sites in Jerusalem, a Cold War bunker in Ottawa, NATO’s Headquarter Camp in Kosovo, and buildings linked to the Japanese Canadian internment during World War II.

To view more photographs, please visit Leslie’s website.  lesliehossack.com

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