The garden at Chartwell
Born from the keen amateur, creative gardening minds of Sir Winston and Lady Churchill, the garden at Chartwell is as varied as it is beautiful all year round. History and nature merge seamlessly across the estate, from Clementine's Rose Garden to the walls of the Kitchen Garden that Winston helped to build.
Winter in the garden at Chartwell
In the garden at Chartwell the impressive evergreen specimens stand out during the winter months. Look out for the Lebanon cedars on the approach to the house and the cryptomeria japonica by the Golden Orfe ponds. The Gunnera are put to bed for winter under ‘hats’ made out of the old leaves. This encourages the goodness to be retained within the plants.
Snowdrops begin to appear as early as January, their delicate white flowers are among the first signs of spring. The 'summer snowflake' has larger later blooming white flowers which crop up around the Gavin Jones waterfall. The hellebores soon follow and a variety of hybrids create a rich display of pink, purple, white and green blooms throughout the borders.
As you enter Chartwell, heading up from the northern end of the estate along the paved pathways, the views soon open up to the wide lawns and lakes.
The Gavin Jones waterfall and garden
The Gavin Jones waterfall and surrounding garden is made up of several different areas, each with its own unique character and fascinating history. Originally part of the 1948 Chelsea Flower Show where Clementine Churchill first saw it, she liked it so much that the designer Gavin Jones gave it to her as a gift.
The first feature you’ll see is the swimming pool, once a favourite of the Churchills and now a favourite of the resident black swans and visiting geese. One of the most captivating areas here is the Gavin Jones water features that trickle steadily down into the swimming pool. Please be aware that is not suitable for swimming apart from our wildlife.
Golden Orfe fish ponds
Just before you reach Lady Churchill’s Rose Garden and the house, you’ll reach the top of the water feature with the Golden Orfe fish ponds. There are in fact three ponds here, leading into each other and each filled with descendants of the exotic fish that Churchill himself bought from Harrods after seeing them in the 1930s.
Lady Churchill's Rose Garden
Sitting beside the Golden Orfe ponds before you reach the house, you’ll find the Rose Garden, designed by Clementine herself. We have tried where possible to use roses similar to the ones Lady Churchill would have used, like Rosa Ice Cream and Rosa Pink Parfait.
The centrepiece of the garden is formed by four Wisteria trees that bloom purple in the spring. Although these are the common Wisteria sinensis variety, what makes them special is they’ve been planted upright as a ‘standard’ rather than the famous hanging displays.
Enjoy this sun trap surrounded by intense colours and fragrances in what is perhaps the most quintessentially English feature of the Chartwell garden.
No matter the season, the terrace is the perfect place to pull up a chair, either with sunglasses and sun cream or woolly hats and scarves, ready to sit back and enjoy the view.
At the north end of the terrace lawn, leading to Lady Churchill’s Rose Garden, is the distinctive Marlborough Pavilion, named for the man who inspired its decoration and Churchill’s ancestor, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough.
A wide variety of apple trees grow in the orchard, many of which are the same types that the Churchills would have also grown whilst living here at Chartwell. There's a selection of both culinary and dessert apples including Bramley, pippin, crab, sunset, and Duchess’ favourite. We also planted a 'Winston' apple tree in the main orchard, and we can’t wait for it to really get growing.
The orchards were important to Churchill, and they’re important to us, too. For most of the year we manage the orchard grass as a meadow, which allows a variety of wildflower species to flourish. This in turn ensures that we offer a consistently rich habitat for local wildlife.
After the September harvest, you can buy delicious Chartwell apple juice in the shop.
The Walled Garden
From fruit and vegetables, beautiful cut-flower beds to the golden rose avenue – and not forgetting the chickens – the Walled Garden has a bit of everything. The present Walled Garden dates from the mid-1920s when the surrounding brick wall was built. A plaque states 'The greater part of this wall was built between the years 1925 & 1932 by Winston with his own hands.'
Whilst you're exploring the Walled Garden, pop into the Marycot as you go, a little brick house Winston Churchill built himself for his daughter Mary.
The Golden Rose Avenue
A walk to the farthest reaches of the garden is well worth it for the Golden Rose Avenue that awaits you. The avenue is full of colour, sounds and fragrance, with catmint (Nepeta) adorning the borders and garden birds making the hedges their home. See if you can spot the inscription on the plinth reading 'Here lies the Bali Dove', Clementine’s beloved pet dove that she brought to Chartwell from Bali in 1936.
Wildlife to spot in the garden at Chartwell
Black swans, originally native to Australia, were first kept at Chartwell in the 1920s after they were gifted to Churchill. Please help us take care of the swans by giving them some distance and not feeding them. Wildfowl are sensitive and may peck if they feel uncomfortable.
In the Walled Garden is ‘Chickenham Palace’, home to all kinds of bantam chickens, each with their unique colouring and feathering. Which one will be your favourite?
Sir Winston’s love of butterflies is one we still continue here today by encouraging them to Chartwell, with the long path between the pet cemetery and the house called the butterfly border. All different types of butterflies can be seen feeding on the distinct purple flowers of the buddleia by the croquet lawn. Ivy-covered walls offer shelter for over wintering brimstones and the early flowers are perfect for the tiny holly blue.
Keeping Churchill’s beekeeping tradition alive, there are six beehives in the private orchard tended to by trained volunteers. There are also some feral bee colonies living out in the woodland. Surplus honey is harvested by volunteers at the end of August and has won several awards from the British Beekeepers Association.
Garden audio guide
To discover the stories behind the garden at Chartwell and explore at your own pace, pick up a free audio guide from the visitor centre on arrival.
Explore the beloved home of one of Britain's greatest politicians, Sir Winston Churchill. The house has many treasures and provides an intimate portrait of the Churchill family.
The Trust’s story at Chartwell began whilst Winston Churchill and his family were still in residence. Discover how we helped to preserve a significant piece of British history.
Chartwell is a three pawprint rated place. Bring your four-legged friend along on a short lead for a stroll around the garden or go for a roam in the woods. Find out more about where you can and can't take your dog.
Discover more about the extraordinary life of Sir Winston Churchill in this permanent exhibition at Chartwell, including five must-see items from the curator.
Chartwell’s estate and surrounding countryside offers far-reaching views across the Weald. Walk in the footsteps of one of our founders Octavia Hill when you explore Mariners Hill.
From 18th-century water gardens and Arts and Crafts landscapes to intimate woodland gardens, there are so many places to discover.
Discover our gardeners’ top tips so you can make the most of your garden, plot or window box.
There are gardens aplenty to explore in Kent, including Sissinghurst – one of the most famous in the country. From productive walled gardens to beautiful borders, there's something for every taste.