Monday, 25 September 2017

Chartwell House,Toys Hill,Ide Hill and Emmets Garden Circular 25.09.2017

I set off from home in the rain, and arrived at Chartwell House a little after 9am. The house doesn't open until 10am so I parked up (Free for NT members otherwise a charge) in the car park.
I walked out onto Mapleton Road turning left towards Four Elms.

My Viewranger track here..please click

I follow the road for a while before turning left onto a track that leads past some fields and an orchard.

At the end of this track I reach Oast Tops at Chartwell Farm.
Oast Tops is three round kiln oast houses with Stone built walls,Converted in 2010.

One of two adjacent oast houses, along with Dairy Oast, which were once part of Chartwell Farm.

As I walked further along the track Pheasants were flying out of every place I walked by, they were everywhere.

I walk on through Buddles Wood before exiting onto Puddledock Lane.
This road climbs steeply over quite a distance, I have certainly warmed up now.
View over the Weald of Kent
At the top of this Hill is Toys Hill Well.

Another fantastic Viewpoint

I reach the end of Puddledock Lane where it meets Toys Hill Road, here I take a footpath on my left up another steep hill.

The highest point of the Kent Downs! Toys Hill is more than 450 acres (180 hectares) of woodland, cared for by the National Trust. Enjoy the fine views over the Weald and discover the diverse and abundant wildlife which makes this area a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
For hundreds of years, Toys Hill was a vital part of the local economy. Charcoal burners, herdsman and local villagers would have gathered firewood and grazed their livestock here. Charcoal pits can be seen on the orange route and the pollarded trees on the disabled access route. Pollarding is an ancient way of managing woodland which is grazed.
The hill used to be well known for its groves of ancient beech pollards, dating back to the early days of grazing. You can still see a few which survived the 1987 storm. The woods are regenerating after the storm; look for the sessile oak, beech and birch saplings on the plateau. Parts of Scords Wood are managed on a non-intervention ‘hands off’ basis so that natural development after the storm can be studied by Natural England. The bridle path, green and red routes lead through this area which has become rich in insects and fauna.

I reach a car park at the top of the hill, which I walk through before crossing Toys Hill Road and across into Scords Wood opposite.

As I leave Scords Wood I have more amazing views across The Weald of Kent.

I can now see my next climb up to Ide Hill.

St Marys Church at Ide Hill.

At the top of the hill I exit onto Sundridge Lane and walk up to the village green.

There are several old buildings round the sloping village green, including the 18th-century Cock Inn and the Ide Hill Village School, built in 1856 it is the second home of the school which unusually for a church school predates the church building as the school was formed in 1809.

Ide Hill is a village within the civil parish of Sundridge with Ide Hill, in the Sevenoaks District of Kent, England. It stands on one of the highest points of the sandstone ridge about five miles south-west of Sevenoaks. Its name first appears on record in 1250 as Edythehelle. It is an eponymic denoting 'Edith's hill', from the Old English hyll 'hill'.

I reach St Marys Church, The Highest church in Kent.

The church is relatively modern. The village had an Anglican chapel in 1807, built by Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London, who lived in nearby Sundridge; St Mary's church was built in 1865 and "has the distinction of being the highest church in Kent" [The Kent Village Book] at 216 metres above sea level, as well as boasting a beautiful lychgate, crafted by local builder Cecil 'Dusty' Boakes.

I walk back down Sundridge Road passing the school and many lovely cottages.

Old School House a grade II listed building. C18 or earlier 2-storey, 2-window timber framed cottage.

After walking a bit along the road I turn left up a track and past a cricket green.

This Track leads me up to the NT Emmetts Garden.

Emmetts Garden was open farmland until 1860 when the present house was built. The name 'emmett' is a local word for ant and refers to the giant anthills that covered the area until the 1950s. The house and land was purchased in 1890 by Frederic Lubbock, a banker and passionate plantsman. Lubbock's elder brother was John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury, coincidentally a world expert on ants, which may have influenced his decision to purchase the property.

The gardens were initially laid out between 1893 and 1895 under the influence of Lubbock's friend William Robinson in the fashionable Edwardian style popularised by Gertrude Jekyll. The shrub garden was added later in 1900-1908.
After Lubbock's death (1927), the estate was acquired by an American geologist Charles Watson Boise. He made various alterations to both house and garden but retained the original character of the gardens.

In 1964 Charles Boise bequeathed Emmetts to the National Trust. Since then the Trust has sought to maintain the botanical diversity of the garden developed by the two men.
Many of the old trees and shrubs planted by Lubbock were brought down in the Great Storm of 1987. Following the storm, which had the benefit of bringing more light to the gardens, the National Trust has undertaken a sympathetic replanting programme.

The garden, which covers an area of about six acres (approximately 2.5 hectares), occupies a commanding site on a 600-foot (180 m) sandstone ridge, overlooking the Weald. One of the highest points in Kent, it offers expansive views towards the North Downs.
It is mainly planted with trees and shrubs in the form of an arboretum; a magnificent 100-foot (30 m) Wellingtonia (Giant Sequoia) fortunately survived the Great Storm. There is also a rose garden located next to the Victorian house to which the gardens once belonged. The house is not open to the public.

After much wandering about these beautiful gardens, I stop in the Tea room for tea and a slice of Coffee cake.

I now continue with my walk,back through Scords wood in The Chart.

I leave Scords Wood and cross Emmetts Lane and back into Scords Wood opposite. 

I leave Scords Wood and head down a lane towards French Street.

I walk pass more lovely cottages in the small hamlet of French Street.

After more walking  along the Greensand way through woods, I am back at Chartwell House.

I get my timed ticket for 1250 hrs to visit the house and proceed through the houses grounds.

Swimming Pool
In the early years, the Churchills used the lakes for swimming until the oval concrete pool was constructed in the 1930s. With his usual thoroughness, Churchill took the advice from his scientist friend, Lindemann, on the amount of water needed to fill it and from a chemist on the correct chemicals to keep it clean.

Huge Gunnera plants

Swimming Pool

Golden orfe ponds

Churchill first encountered golden orfe in the 1930s and was so entranced by them that they were made features of the Chartwell garden. Have a look out for a small chair next to one of the ponds; Churchill could sit here for hours in silent contemplation as he feed his beloved fish.

For over forty years Chartwell was the home of Winston Churchill. He bought the property in September 1922 and lived there until shortly before his death in January 1965. In the 1930s, when Churchill was excluded from political office, Chartwell became the centre of his world. At his dining table, he gathered those who could assist his campaign against German re-armament and the British government's response of appeasement; in his study, he composed speeches and wrote books; in his garden, he built walls, constructed lakes and painted. During the Second World War Chartwell was largely unused, the Churchills returning after he lost the 1945 election. In 1953, when again Prime Minister, the house became Churchill's refuge when he suffered a devastating stroke. In October 1964, he left for the last time, dying at his London home, 28, Hyde Park Gate, on 24 January 1965.
The origins of the estate reach back to the 14th century; in 1382 the property, then called Well-street, was sold by William-at-Well. It passed through various owners and in 1836 was auctioned, as a substantial, brick-built manor. In 1848, it was purchased by John Campbell Colquhoun, whose grandson sold it to Churchill. The Campbell Colquhouns greatly enlarged the house and the advertisement for its sale at the time of Churchill's purchase described it as an "imposing" mansion. Between 1922 and 1924, it was largely rebuilt and extended by the society architect Philip Tilden. From the garden front, the house has extensive views over the Weald of Kent, "the most beautiful and charming" Churchill had ever seen, and the determining factor in his decision to buy the house.

In 1946, when financial constraints forced Churchill to again consider selling Chartwell, it was acquired by the National Trust with funds raised by a consortium of Churchill's friends led by Lord Camrose, on condition that the Churchills retain a life-tenancy. After Churchill's death, Lady Churchill surrendered her lease on the house and it was opened to the public by the Trust in 1966. A Grade I listed building, for its historical significance rather than its architectural merit, Chartwell has become among the Trust's most popular properties; some 232,000 people visited the house in 2016, the fiftieth anniversary of its opening.

Churchill Portrait

Vistors Book, including signatures from President Truman, amongst many others

I was told off, apparently I was not allowed to take photos inside the building!

After World War II, Chartwell was bought by a group of friends and admirers of the Churchills to be given to the National Trust upon Sir Winston’s death. This extraordinary gesture alleviated most of the mortgage woes and inheritance details the Churchills worried about for their children. For years, the identity of the group of donors remained a secret, but today, the names of these men and their generous gift are celebrated on a plaque on the Chartwell grounds.

Lady Churchill's rose garden

The present walled rose garden on the north side of the house was designed by Clementine's close friend and cousin Venetia Montagu. Together they created a traditional, formal English rose garden divided by paths into four beds and softened by a mass of perennials and shrubs in gentle colours. The roses may not be out yet, but the garden remains a place of quiet contemplation.

Leaving the house, I wandered around the grounds and the Kitchen Garden.

The studio is home to a collection of Churchill's paintings that have been saved for the nation to see and enjoy.

Playhouse built for Churchill's youngest daughter Mary

Kitchen garden

I head to the kitchen garden to see the wall that Churchill built with his own hands. Using the old diaries of Churchill's head gardener and surviving invoices of seed purchases, the National Trust recreated something like the appearance of the productive kitchen garden as the Churchills knew it. Much of the produce grown heads over to the café to be used in delicious dishes.

I now head back to the car after a 10 mile walk. I drive back along the road to where I walked earlier and saw the alpaca or Llamas (I can never tell the difference) before the drive home.

GPX File here............