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A Storybook Christmas at Chartwell

Images shows an antique rocking horse in front of an illuminated Christmas tree at Basildon Park, with wrapped gifts under the tree and a festive garland in the background
A storybook Christmas at Chartwell | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

This Christmas at Chartwell, step into a magical storybook world. Selected rooms in the house have decorations themed on a children’s book, look out for the swish of a tail under the Christmas tree! Outside, follow a trail of favourite storybook characters through the Walled Garden.

Christmas 2023 has now finished at Chartwell

The below is information for Christmas 2023. We hope you enjoyed all that we had on offer. Please check back here closer to Christmas 2024 when you will see updates of all the exciting plans we have in store for you.

Christmas in the house

25 November – 23 December 11am–3.30pm (last entry 3.10pm). Normal admission applies.

Delve into a nostalgic storybook Christmas at Chartwell. Join us this festive season as we explore the favourite storybooks of Winston Churchill’s beloved daughter, Mary, who spent an idyllic childhood in the grounds of Chartwell. Themed trees, gorgeous garlands and magical touches will transform the ground floors of the house into a cosy Christmas spectacle.

At the end of each of these busily and happily occupied days came an evening ritual - reading aloud. This was a treasured highlight of my routine.

A quote by Mary Soames
A view through a window to a warmly lit Christmas tree and a string of cards hooked up over a bookcase
A warm welcome awaits at Chartwell this Christmas | © Beth Walker

A storybook Christmas

Winston would often read to Mary in the evenings and she had several favourite stories. See if you can spot which storybook has inspired the Christmas decorations in each room of the house.

The Sitting Room will set the scene for an immersive journey into Mary’s imagination. Books tied up with ribbon will nestle beneath a towering Christmas tree decorated with reds and golds and the fireplace will be adorned with a garland of natural foliage from the grounds. Mary’s dolls will be lined up waiting for her to read to them.

As you continue into the Hallway, a whimsical birdcage will hang from the ceiling with mistletoe cascading down. You may glimpse a shadow dancing up the stairs and a hook curling around the lift. The Drawing Room will feature giant blue peonies and a sea of ticking clocks. Look out for the swish of a reptilian tail under the Christmas tree!

The tree in the Library will be elegantly decorated with black baubles, while in the Kitchen, things may seem a little out of sorts with a tree of teapots and a collection of ‘eat me’ and ‘drink me’ bottles. In the Dining Room, a luscious Roman feast will be laid out with laurel centrepieces. Come and experience Chartwell at Christmastime, as if seen through Mary’s imagination.

Nothing glows so clearly in my memory of my the Chartwell Christmases.

A quote by Mary Soames

When to visit

The ground floors of the house will be open and specially decorated for Christmas from 25 November until 23 December 11am–3.30pm (last entry 3.10pm). House tickets will be available from the Visitor Centre on the day. Normal admission applies.

Family visitors in the house at Trelissick looking up at a decorated Christmas tree together, Trelissick, Cornwall
Enjoy a festive family visit to Chartwell this Christmas | © National Trust / Steve Hayward

Storybook Christmas trail

25 November – 3 January, 10am–4pm. Normal admission plus £3 per trail including a prize.

New for this Christmas, discover a magical sculpture trail of storybook characters through the Walled Garden.

Pass the red guards at the entrance and explore the garden to see if you can find the White Rabbit, Black Beauty and Cinderella’s sparkling carriage, overflowing with pumpkins. Meet the Tin Man, spot the Hungry Caterpillar and even board a pirate ship along the way. Don’t miss the Narnian-inspired doorway into the Marycot.

Choose your favourite characters and design the ultimate Christmas dinner guest list to complete this festive family trail.

Winter walks

If you’re looking to blow the cobwebs away, head out on a crisp winter walk around the frost-covered gardens or wider estate and enjoy misty views over the weald. The grounds are open daily 10am–4pm excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

A long view of the red brick house at Chartwell in Kent with a sweeping lawn running up to the terrace of the house and trees surrounding the grounds

Discover more at Chartwell

Find out when Chartwell is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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