A Weekend Jaunt and some 1940s Inspiration at Chartwell

I’ve been AWOL since last Friday, I do apologise, but I’ve been away on a little mini break for some much needed R&R.

The main focus of my weekend was a trip down to Kent to make the most of my National Trust membership (see, cheap Summer days out!) by visiting one of my favourite places in the whole wide world, Chartwell.

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Chartwell was Winston Churchill’s residence for 41 years and is now open to the public. It has stunning gardens that I could spend all day in just sitting and limited rooms from the house are open and left much as they were when Churchill was in residence.

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My favourite room in the house has always been the Dining Room (above) which was part of a new extension by architect Philip Tilden when Churchill moved into the house. It struck me how contemporary the decor looks, even after over 70 years. The colours are light and natural, reflective of the beautiful gardens beyond the large arched windows, there’s nothing stuffy or repressive about it. I can just picture myself sipping tea in the afternoon, or enjoying a late Summer dinner in this room (if only they’d let me move in)

For the first time on this visit I was also struck by the photographs in the exhibitions of London during the blitz, as well as after the war. I was struck by how well turned out all the people were as they picked through the rubble of their homes and I felt ashamed of the days when I can’t be bothered to brush my hair (or change out of my pyjamas sometimes, shhh, don’t tell anyone!)

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During World War II clothing in Britain was strictly rationed and women turned to extreme measures, such as making clothing from unrationed black out material, wedding dresses from parachute silk and using gravy browning and eye pencil on their legs to avoid revealing their lack of stockings.

40s style fashions have long been a favourite of mine, and the occasional reminder of the hardships Women were suffering that influenced these fashions is very poignant in an era of disposable fashion and the sense of entitlement to designer goods amongst people who in the past would have been part of the “make do and mend” ethos (Check out 39th and Broadways post on Fashion Excess)

So bear that in mind, and next time there’s a hole in your tights, your hem falls down or your winter coat gets bobbles on it, make sure to check whether you can repair or alter it instead of buying new.