Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Churchill's house gets new roof

The re-roofing work at Chartwell took six months and cost 500,000

A 500,000 project to re-roof the Kent home of Sir Winston Churchill has been completed, with 600 of the new clay tiles signed by members of the public.

Donations from people who signed the tiles raised 900 towards the cost of the project at Chartwell in Westerham.

The new tiles were hand-made in Sussex by a family-run company which has been making traditional tiles for 400 years.

"It is very exciting here at Chartwell at the moment," said visitor services manager Phoebe Vincent.

"It is wonderful to be able to move forward and show the house off with its brand new roof."

Leaking tiles

The property has been shrouded in five storeys of scaffolding during the six months of building work, which the National Trust said would last for the next 100 years.

Sir Winston lived at Chartwell with his family for over 40 years from 1922, when he bought the house.

The old roof tiles were believed to date back to that period and were leaking in places.

Ms Vincent said members of the Churchill family still lived nearby and the house was decorated and furnished as it was when Sir Winston's children were growing up.

"I have been lucky enough to go round the house with Lady Mary Soames, who is Churchill's youngest daughter," she said.

Sir Winston Churchill
Churchill and his wife brought up their family at Chartwell

"She had some wonderful stories about the roof work and the windows we have been conserving.

"She used to climb out of the windows on to the roof when she was hiding."

The National Trust house, which has 180,000 visitors a year, reopens to the public on 14 March.

Sir Winston's great-grandson, Randolph Churchill, is to perform a topping-out ceremony on the roof to mark the completion of the building work on 1 March.

Ms Vincent said people from all over the world visit Chartwell.

"Sir Winston is a very big draw for people - and you can very much feel him here," she said.

"We enjoy hearing visitors' stories about him and Britain at the time of the second world war."

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