Friday, March 12, 2010

Chartwell, Churchill and sustainability?

Click on the pictures to enlarge

Winston Churchill, as an historic Conservative Party and wartime leader, doesn't get much credit for his social program work, earlier as a Liberal Party leader (he "crossed the floor" of the house twice in his career). But we have him to thank for the start of our old age pension and disability insurance system here in the UK, among other programs. Not exactly your Ronald Reagan conservative. The traditional British land-based aristocracy had a very different ideology.

Neither does he get much credit for his understanding of countryside conservation and his love for animals. The best example of Churchill's conservation aesthetic must be Chartwell, his beloved country house, which I visited today. The Kentish landscape is exquisite, improved upon by a pleasant series of cascading ponds. Churchill also kept a farm and lots of pets from sheep to geese to goldfish.

Pictures from the top:

The walled kitchen garden: a superb example of the type, common to country houses in the UK. The walls extend the growing season. Plums and other soft fruit trees are trellised along the south-facing ones.

Crocuses in bloom. This tree was gorgeous.

The house itself, parts of which date to the 1500s. Kentish architecture relies on brick, timber, and tile. British indigenous architecture varies by geology and ecoregion. In Wales we'll see slate in all it's variations.

A drawing and saying by Churchill, on his preference for pigs. I have to say, as an admirer and keeper and eater of the porcine race, I greatly agree.

Chickens. Churchill kept a wide variety of poultry. His daughter kept wartime chickens, part of the Dig for Victory campaign.

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