Leave it to Glen. Whether you know him well, know him slightly, or just know him through me…you’ve learned a little (maybe more than a little) about him through his open, honest, thoughtful, drifting, heartfelt, deep, and yes, sometimes morose or melancholy posts.
Yesterday’s journey was important. The deep connection Glen has with this complicated man was palpable as we drove up to the estate. I could feel his anticipation and desire to make this day work. For us both.
Me? Who doesn’t love a beautiful old, brick English manor with incredible gardens – rose gardens, vegetable gardens, plantings from around the world (it reminded me of the castle in Brodick that I visited earlier this month), ponds, water features, croquet, a huge grassy hill surrounded by paths throughout the woods? I’d be fine.
As I traipsed along in my singsongy, “isn’t this so pretty” way, I could feel Glen feeling the place. Feeling the man; his impact on the world. Glen’s mind was on the stories he’d learned about Churchill and as he looked around, I felt his emotional reaction to being there.
So after visiting Churchill’s painting studio (about the size of our house), we parted ways for a bit.
I headed off to see the views, the woods, and the gardens.
Glen meandered around the grassy hill.
When we reunited, it was for our timed entry to the house. Glen alluded to the fact that for most of his life, Churchill struggled with finances. As one of the stewards in the rooms pointed out, all nobility had to spend a certain amount of money to keep up appearances. This got a lot of nobility into financial trouble. Churchill was not immune. At some point (1940s, I think), the government offered to purchase the estate and allow him to live in it as long as he liked. In this way, he was able to live his lifestyle, keep up appearances, and not worry about finances.
So while the house is stately, large and lovely, it’s very livable and cozy. It really feels more like a country or mountain home than a home for a statesman. As we toured the rooms that are furnished with much of Churchill’s things, Glen was struggling with his dizziness. Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure how much of his wobbliness was emotion and how much was the dizziness. Thankfully, in the best British way of hospitality, each room had a chair for guests to sit in. (It was likely for the steward, but graciously offered to guests.) Glen entered each room, found the chair and then sat and absorbed the space. He frequently engaged with the steward, sharing in the story of the man and his life. For me, I enjoyed the tour, but I really enjoyed seeing Glen getting to do something that clearly was so meaningful for him.
When we exited the house, I think we both paused and looked out over the grassy hill and reflected on our experience at Chartwell.
While we were there together, I’m pretty sure we got different things out of it. And I’m grateful for that.