Why is the house at Chartwell closed from November?
During the winter months, the house and studio at Chartwell closes to our visitors although the wider estate, shop and café remain open. But why do we need to close at all?
What can I see?
Even though the house is closed from 1 November 2021 to 25 February 2022, there is still plenty to see on a visit to Chartwell.
Our indoor exhibtion, Churchill in 50 Objects, remains open throughout the year (apart from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).
The studio is also open until Jan 1 2022 when it will also close for conservation work until Saturday 26 February.
As well as admiring the views Sir Winston loved so much, there are free garden audio guides available from the Visitor Centre to explore much deeper in to the history of the garden and how the family landscaped and used the space.
Why is the house closed?
Maintaining the Churchill home as the family wished you to see it is a balancing act. We want to be able to share the house they loved and the collection of internationally significant items within it, displayed as Lady Churchill intended her home to be seen. Whilst doing this we also want to offer museum level care to the objects inside the house, to ensure the house and its contents are there for future generations to experience.
Whilst Chartwell is open, March to November, the house team arrive in the morning at 8am and are then against the clock to work on cleaning and conservation for the whole house, whilst also getting it open and ready to welcome our visitors.
Closing the house over winter gives us full, unrestricted access to each of the rooms, allowing us to go through each in the depth and detail that they need.
The house team spend roughly a week in each room of the house over this period, going through it from top to bottom. This means a full deep clean on a level that they now have time for and a condition check of every single item in the house, from skirting boards to chandeliers. A full inventory check of the whole house is also completed as part of this process.
Keeping environmental conditions stable is vital to safeguard the collection against everything from cracks in furniture to management of pests. During closure, humidity and temperature levels can now be managed throughout the house as we keep the doors and windows closed. We can also fully black-out rooms, only lighting the spaces we need to access, which helps us to prevent light damage.
Closure also gives us the time to think about sending certain items off site, both for any necessary conservation work that needs to take place, as well as loans to other museums or for exhibitions. This helps people continue to see some of these items and reach new audiences even whilst we must close, whilst also helping foster good relationships on an international level.
A lot of the general checks and maintenance can happen in the winter too dealing with minor building repairs, maintaining decoration and servicing systems in the house that would not be safe to do whilst open.
Preparing for Christmas
Join us back at Chartwell for three very special Christmas weekends, this year running on 4&5, 11&12, 18&19 December; 11am-3pm, last entry 2.30pm.
Tickets for the Christmas opening run every ten minutes between 11am and 2.30pm. Two time slots per day (1.30pm and 2.30pm) are available to book in advance online to help our visitors travelling from further away guarantee their entry. All other tickets are sold on the day from our Visitor Centre.
Here, select rooms will be fully decorated as the Churchill’s may have known it for their own family Christmases at Chartwell with classic colours, natural foliage and beautifully decorated trees throughout.
During our Christmas opening weekends, stop by the Drawing Room and discover some of the preventive conservation the house team would normally do behind closed doors. Make certain to stop by as you go!