Life as we know it would have been incredibly different without Winston Churchill and although 2015 marks 50 years since his death, Churchill’s extraordinary legacy continues to live on. Here we round up some of the historic houses, heritage attractions and packages in the South East of England you can experience to celebrate the life of one of the world’s greatest leaders.
Book the Winston Churchill package with Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons – available until the end of the year – and you’ll begin your Churchill adventure with a visit to the Churchill War Rooms in London. Venture underneath the busy streets of Westminster and discover the original Cabinet War, the wartime bunker where Churchill took shelter during the Blitz.
It was here where master strategies were hatched and top-secret conversations were whispered late into the night with his cabinet members. Very little has changed here since the war ended – scratch marks on the wartime leader’s chair reveal the intense pressure felt and maps are still dotted with pins charting the progress of allied ships.
Back above ground, you’ll head to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire to sample Raymond Blanc’s seasonal menu and even play Churchill’s favourite card game, Bezique. After a good night’s sleep and a sumptuous breakfast the next morning it’s on to Blenheim Palace, Churchill’s birthplace and just a 30 minute drive from Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.
One of the finest examples of English baroque, from February 14 you’ll be able to experience a revitalised Churchill exhibition, which is brought to life with extracts from his diaries, photos and other insightful artefacts. And in June a commemorative garden flourishing with a mixture of plants, flowers and landscaping will open near the Temple of Diana; where Churchill proposed to his wife. Visit from February 14 to 21 and you’ll also be able to indulge in a limited edition Churchill Valentine’s tea. The afternoon tea includes special tobacco-infused éclairs and Churchill’s favourite champagne.
From January 23, the Science Museum will be hosting Churchill’s Scientists, revealing the little-known story of how Churchill’s fascination with science assisted the war effort and led to the scientific achievements that helped Britain win the Second World War. Spotlighting scientists and their achievements under the direction of Churchill, the exhibition will focus on the uniqueness of scientific innovations by the British, from the production of penicillin to Britain’s top secret research behind the first atomic bomb.
Churchill once said “a day away from Chartwell is a day wasted” and once you’ve spent some time at this 16th century country house in Kent, you’re likely to share this sentiment. Be sure to check out the largest single collection of his paintings in the studio, many of which depict the surrounding gardens and grounds at Chartwell. Visit before February 22 and you’ll be able to experience the Death of a Hero exhibition, exploring the final weeks of his life, the funeral and his lasting legacy. Various never-before-seen objects will be on show, including the flag that flew over Washington the day Churchill died.
And for more ways to celebrate the famous wartime leader see VisitEngland.com
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