The Secretaries' Office at Chartwell

A replica telephone sits in the foreground with framed pictures hanging from the wall in the background

Quite possibly the organisational hub of Chatwell, using archive photographs the Secretaries' Office is dressed as it would have looked in the 1950s. Once a hive of activity, it's from this room that Churchill's dedicated staff would have fielded political calls from key political figures and produced endless correspondence.

The Secretaries' Office is open weekdays, excluding Bank Holidays

Winston Churchill had numerous secretaries throughout his working life and the Secretaries' Office was where a large proportion of that work took place.

Step inside and find out more about these women and their experiences at Chartwell. From Grace Hamblin who joined the staff after graduating from college, eventually becoming Lady Churchill's personal assistant, to Lettice Marston who was involved in the Second World War working for the Auxiliary Territorial Service, each woman had a role to play.

Interactive elements

The duties of a secretary were many and varied, using a replica telephone dial numbers to hear excerpts from the former secretaries all about the tasks they undertook and what working life at Chartwell was like.

Have a go with a phone exchange and flip coloured switches to hear more first-hand accounts from the Churchill secretaries as they recall experiences including meeting Winston Churchill for the first time to working in the centre of political news.

In the room we also show two clips from films where Churchill secretaries were given starring roles. The first, Darkest Hour, sees Lily James as secretary Elizabeth Nel. The 2002 film The Gathering Storm features Celia Imrie as secretary Mrs. Pearman, secretary from 1929-1938.

Collection

On display in the Secretaries' Office, see a collection of Churchill cartoons.

See 'Under His Master's Eye', the first ever depiction of Churchill as a caricature, appearing in Punch Magazine in 1913. The cartoon echoes the questions raised by Members of Parliament that Churchill as First Lord the Admiralty should give up the Admiralty yacht HMS Enchantress for the sake of the public economy.

Another caricature, also on display, made it to the front cover of Punch Magazine in 1954 and taps in to growing public sentiment, suggesting Churchill should retire as Prime Minister.