With daffodils popping up, blue skies becoming more frequent and temperatures gently rising, it’s beginning to feel something like spring... the season when people de-hibernate, venture outside, blinking a little, to explore town and countryside. If you don’t know it or haven’t visited in a while, then consider Westerham as a possible destination.
Perhaps most well-known for its association with Britain’s iconic statesman and twice prime-minister, Sir Winston Churchill, who lived at Chartwell for many years, a large red-brick and gabled house with spectacular views of the weald of Kent, a couple of miles south of the town, Westerham offers a quintessential kind of charm. With a green at its centre, it has an encouraging number of independent businesses in the form of beautiful shops and a variety of pubs, cafes and restaurants where you can indulge in Kentish Ale (locally made), cream teas and/or a selection of cuisines.
Visiting Chartwell , now run by the National Trust – where the gardens start to bloom any moment now – will appeal to anyone who’s interested in great vistas/gardens/British history/an enjoyable ramble round some beautiful grounds and of course, Churchill. Quebec House (childhood home of General James Wolfe) also run by the National Trust and with its own elegant gardens is another lovely place to visit.
A very popular shop and draw for people visiting Westerham is The Design Gallery, specialists in Art Deco and always, always with exceptionally classy drinks cabinets and dining suites amongst many beautiful objets d’art. An absolute must if you are a fan of this era – and even if you aren’t The Design Gallery will probably convert you.
Photo: ‘Cloud’ Dining Suite, attributed to Epstein c1935
Bronze Figure by Lorenzl c1925, in front of a Rene Lalique ‘Calypso’ salver c1930.
The Old Bakery and The Vintage Home Company are two (although by no means not the only) furnishings and gift shops which offer original, contemporary and stylish homeware, temptingly merchandised . There are also several good ladies' fashions shops, Judy French, Prelude and Zebra Zebra to name a few, where it is easy to find something different with their genuine range of sizes and styles and importantly, well-made designs.
There are lots of opportunities for coffees and cake or a glass of something chilled, on the pavement and many of the eating places have outdoor seating areas but on warm days these can fill up fast, so bear that in mind if eating/drinking al fresco is what you would like to do. Although not one of the places providing tables and chairs outside, you will enjoy a good and reasonably priced meal at the Osteria Pizzeria. I have an Italian friend who swears by the food there.
Many thanks to this week's Guest Blogger: Sarah Simpson of Shimmering Moon Photography for the article and fabulous photographs of Westerham!