Regular readers of this blog will remember a few weeks ago I published an introductory post on the newly opened woods and estate here at Chartwell. Those of you who would like to play catch up can check out that blog by clicking right here. In that post I promised that I would go into more detail on some of the key areas of our woodland that our visitors can expect to enjoy when they next visit us. Well, never one to break a promise, here is the first of those installments, this time focusing on the Canadian Camp.
Last September and October, Steve and Ben (our estate gardeners) together with a steady revolving gate of volunteers spent many hours creating an area within the woods to resemble a Canadian soldier camp. But what relevance is this to Churchill and Chartwell you may ask? Well, plenty is the answer. On April 15th, 1941, Chartwell was occupied by soldiers from the Canadian 1st Division. Although around half an acre of pasture land was requisitioned for them under Regulation 51 of the 1939 Defence Regulations, they actually holed up in an area of the woods on the far side of the lakes. We have tried to recreate their camp as close as we can work out to where the original site was. The soldiers were there to temporarily ‘guard’ Chartwell which had become, not surprisingly, an obvious target during the war. Today, the area is incredibly popular with children as a secret den to play in.
The soldiers were kept busy during their time here. As part of their stay in the Chartwell woodland, the Canadian 1st Division also negotiated a contract with Sir Winston Churchill’s secretary Kathleen Hill to collect pig swill under the supervision of gardener Albert Hill from the Chartwell farmland at the rate of £2-10-0 per hundred men per month!
Another troop of Canadian soldiers also spent some time at Chartwell during the war too. Because the landscape, including the lakes, that Churchill had created was so recognisable from the air, it was thought that Chartwell might be aiding the navigation of the German Luftwaffe or even be a bomb target itself. It was therefore decided to camouflage the swimming pool and the lakes with stakes and brushwood from the estate. This job fell, during the Autumn of 1940, to the Canadian 7th Corps and their chief engineer Brigadier Hertzberg.
We had soldiers on site at Chartwell once again a couple of weekends ago when the Wartime Weekend took place, as the pictures below will show.
A spitfire fly-past, wartime bands and dancers, military vehicles and demonstrations were all enjoyed by our visitors as well as a Canadian Woodland Trail through the woods for the kids. Make sure you follow in their footsteps and take a trek into the wider estate the next time you visit us at Chartwell…