There are plenty of water features at Chartwell, some of which can be seen in the picture above. We have two lakes which Sir Winston himself sculpted and constructed between 1924 and 1935, a series of ponds linked by flowing cascades and of course Churchill’s famous swimming pool. These are all connected by a series of pumps and pipes meaning that we can circulate the water around the the estate, even using it as irrigation for some of our plants in order to conserve water. Recently however we have unearthed evidence that Churchill built another swimming pool here at Chartwell before he settled on the final one that still exists today.
The map above shows the location of this original swimming pool. Inside the green box can be seen The Reservoir. This was originally built around 1930 by Churchill as a huge 85m long swimming pool which stretched to include the area marked Reservoir Pond Site on the map too. Why he felt he needed such a large pool we will never know! The plan was abandoned fairly quickly as either the pool failed or the family felt it was too far from the house. It was left as a reservoir to feed the current swimming pool, but having been forgotten about for some time, came to resemble a very natural pond, as can be seen below:
Having had a series of archeological and environmental surveys carried out, it was discovered that this pool has become a natural habitat for many newts, frogs, snakes and other wildlife. We are therefore not going to try and recreate the area as a another swimming pool! Instead, under the direction of new Estate Supervisor Steve, we have been clearing and cutting back some of the surrounding scrub vegetation, without destroying any habitats or disturbing any wildlife, so that everyone can view the site more clearly and see its relation to the rest of the Chartwell estate. Willows have been coppiced and brambles cut back to a manageable level. Many of our volunteers have been getting involved with this exciting, long term project, as some of the pictures below clearly show!
Phase One of this endeavor is now complete but we will be waiting for a while before clearing any more of the surrounding brambles and weeds to give the wildlife a chance to get accustomed to their new surroundings. We hope you come and have a look at our work when you next take a walk through the wider Chartwell estate…