Playing house at Chartwell
At the bottom of the Kitchen Garden, nestled against the wall famously built by Churchill, stands the Marycot. Built for Mary Churchill, the youngest of Sir Winston’s children, the red brick playhouse, with a real fireplace and bay window, is an impressive toy.
However, near 80 years on some serious repairs were needed to bring the Marycot back to life and a grant in 2010 enabled us to do just that.
We were keen to re-create the play space that Mary herself enjoyed. Mary (now Lady Soames) now lives in London but visits Chartwell often. The team asked her to come down to share some of her memories of the Marycot.
She remembered a farmhouse table in the centre with four chairs around it, a dresser, white bench in the window, a small stove, white and blue check curtains and, surprisingly, a chandelier. So we set to work re-creating her memories.
The dresser was still in place but needed some work. Other furniture was harder to source. We found a husband and wife team in Dorset who were able to make a small toy aga, and one of our volunteers, Marion, sewed the curtains.
Our hope was to re-create a play-house that enabled children visiting the gardens to play in a similar way to eight year-old Mary Churchill. Lady Soames remembers inviting all her fathers’ guests down to the Marycot for drop scones. Today the food in the Marycot is wooden but it doesn’t seem to have stopped children who have already visited the playhouse from serving up painted cakes and plates of wooden vegetables to waiting parents sat under the apple trees outside.
Come see for yourself
The Marycot is now fully open and can be found at the bottom of the Kitchen Garden.