Churchill's great legacy is under threat, National Trust warns

The family lived at Chartwell for more than 40 years, with 19th century house serving as a place for Churchill to paint

Published: 05th September 2016 08:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th September 2016 08:21 AM   |  A+A-

HE is regarded by many as the greatest man in the history of our nation, his accomplishments so immense that they need no explanation.

But there is a "real risk" of future generations forgetting Winston Churchill's legacy, the National Trust has warned, as the heritage organisation begins an appeal to overhaul the former prime minister's family home.

The heritage organisation is asking members of the public to help it raise pounds 7.1?million to acquire hundreds of Churchill's personal effects, including his Nobel Prize for Literature and the box in which he kept the notes for his speeches. The heirlooms, which will be purchased from Churchill's great-grandson Randolph, will form the centrepiece of a revamped exhibition at Chartwell, the Kent home purchased by the statesman in 1922.

The project, known as Churchill's Chartwell, will involve giving the 230,000 people who visit the house each year access to the former prime minister's bedroom and bathroom for the first time, as well as funding a new outreach programme that the National Trust says will ensure that he "remains relevant to future generations".

Churchill died in 1965, nearly 20 years after Chartwell was given to the Trust. In a press release accompanying the appeal for funds, it said: "Fifty years on from his death, a new generation is growing up without first-hand experience of the significant role he played in shaping their lives and the world. There is a real risk of Churchill's legacy being consigned to the records of history  unless we find new ways to excite and inspire the public's interest and understanding of this man.

"Without these items the spirit of Chartwell and the ability to tell the Churchill family's story would be greatly diminished."

The family lived at Chartwell for more than 40 years, with the 19th century house serving as a place for Churchill to paint, work and escape from Westminster politics. He was once heard to remark: "A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted."

In 1946, it became clear that Churchill and his wife, Clementine, could not afford to keep the property running, and it was purchased by friends who gave it to the National Trust, on the understanding that the couple could live there for life.

Randolph Churchill, who owns around 40 per cent of the artefacts in the house, is said to have been approached by the Trust with an offer to buy hundreds of the heirlooms.

Mr Churchill said: "My family is very proud of what the National Trust has achieved at Chartwell. Over the last 50 years they have cared for my great-grandfather's home exceptionally well.

"It gives us great pleasure to see Chartwell supported by so many volunteers, and going from strength to strength, and I am delighted that [the Trust]?wants to acquire more of Churchill's treasures and historical items."

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