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Cheers to Chartwell!

PUBLISHED: 15:54 11 March 2009 | UPDATED: 09:43 12 August 2010

CELEBRATION: Randolph Churchill, fifth from left on back row, family and workers celebrate the opening of the house.

CELEBRATION: Randolph Churchill, fifth from left on back row, family and workers celebrate the opening of the house.

THE family of Sir Winston Churchill attended a special ceremony to celebrate the end of refurbishment work to the former Prime Minister s home.

THE family of Sir Winston Churchill attended a special ceremony to celebrate the end of refurbishment work to the former Prime Minister's home.

Great grandson of the former Prime Minister, Randolph Churchill climbed up to the rafters to lay the last roof tile on Chartwell, the much-loved house of Sir Winston in Mapleton Road, Westerham on March 1.

The building has been shrouded in scaffolding for six months during the major £500,000 roof refurbishment but will be open to the public this Saturday (14).

General Manager of Chartwell, Philippa (CORR) Rawlinson, said: "It was a wonderful day. We celebrated by drinking Pol Roger which was Churchill's favourite champagne.

"Randolph, his wife Catherine and their three children stayed with us for the ceremony and then we all had lunch together, it was a great day.

"The roof looks fantastic. Churchill had lots of building work done to the property after he first bought it but he was always trying to make his money go as far as possible which resulted in him having arguments with his architect.

"We have been fighting to keep the building watertight for years but hopefully after this work it should be good for another 80 to 100 years."

The old tiles, believed to date back to 1922, the year Churchill purchased the property, were leaking.

Renovating the house has been a major project but visitors have been able to watch the work in progress and get involved by signing one of the new tiles.

Some 600 of the new tiles were scribed by members of the public, raising £900 which will fund half of a new flag pole.

All the new tiles were hand-made, using Wealden clay from Sussex, by a family run company who have been producing tiles the traditional way for over 400 years.

The tile makers produce 1,000 to 2,000 tiles each every day, taking only two to three days to complete the Chartwell order.

Attractions at the house include a collection of Churchill paintings, photographs and memorabilia and a rose and water gardens commissioned by the Churchills.

There are also countryside walks with views over the Weald and a functioning vegetable garden, restored using original plans.

For more information, call the house on 01732 866368 (Infoline) or 01732 868381

* NATIONAL Trust properties are offering frequent visitors a free lunch.

Chartwell, Emmetts Garden, Ightham Mote, Knole, Scotney Castle and Sissinghurst Castle Garden are just some of the properties taking part in the offer to hand a free meal worth £7.95 after visitors collect five stamps at participating attractions.

For more information go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/localtoyou or call 01372 453401 for a full list of participating properties.

Offer runs until June 30.

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