Chartwell Visitors Book
Never has the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ felt more apt than when considering the Visitors Book at Chartwell. Inside it may look like just a list of names, but these signatures paint a unique picture of the Churchills' daily lives. It charts their successes, their sorrows and their world, making the book an important part of the collection we look after.
A lifetime of visitors
Countless signatures from renowned public figures fill the leaves of this book, showing a wealth of visitors from many walks of life.
The hundreds of signatures across the pages include politicians, military chiefs, film stars and even royalty. Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier and President Truman are just a few of the well known names to be found in the book.
The names that come up time and time again are those who were closest to the Churchill’s; their trusted advisors, confidantes and faithful friends from over four decades of public life.
" It’s the unique insight into their family life away from the public eye that makes Chartwell’s Visitors Book the single most important record of the private life of the Churchills"
Who’s on your house ticket?
The house ticket you’ll receive from our visitor welcome centre will show one of the most frequent guests to Chartwell under Churchill's residence.
From the immediate family there's Winston's brother Jack, son Randolph, daughters Diana and Sarah and the grandchildren Celia and Edwina. Clementine's sister, Margaret Nellie Romilly, and cousin, Diana Mitford, are also in the mix.
Lifelong, close friends make up the other four names, including Violet Bonham-Carter, Field Marshal Montgomery, Archibald Sinclair and Professor Frederick Lindemann.
Your ticket will give you information about the visitor, and if possible where you can spot them in photos and paintings around the house.
Who will you get on your visit?
Reading between the lines
From the pages we can tell when the Churchill’s were economising, lessening how frequently and how long they entertained. It’s very telling that this didn’t tend to be for very long.
The record begins in April 1924, from the moment the Churchills moved into the house that they would call home for the next forty years. During Winston’s ‘wilderness years’ the book is full of family, friends and the political allies and advisors who supported him during this time.
On the outbreak of war signatures desist as the family moves back to London, for Winston to take up the mantle of wartime Prime Minister. The record resumes in January 1946, after Churchill’s election defeat, and continues until October 1964. Winston would go up to London for his 90th birthday, never to return to his beloved family home again.