If you picture Winston Churchill as most at home in a setting of overstuffed club chairs, overflowing ash trays and heavy drapes, you might want to guess again. When it came to home decor, Britain's intrepid World War II leader -- the nemesis of both Hitler and Stalin -- seems to have had a lighter touch. As seen in the video above, the decor of Churchill's living room was what Huffington Post Senior Style & Home Editor Brie Dyas calls "very ladylike, very dowager" (with not an "iron curtain" in sight!). One wonders, though, whether the prime minister's baroness wife might have had some influence.
In any case, it turns out that Sir Winston was a bit of a "DIY guy" -- since as Dyas points out, most of the paintings decorating that delicate environment in the photograph below were done by him.
How well did he succeed at that? You can judge for yourself as both Churchill's childhood home and, Chartwell, the home where he raised his children and spent his last days, are open to the public, complete with furnishings used when he lived there and his paintings.
Chartwell was Churchill's home from 1924 until his death in 1965 at age 90. Britain's National Trust, which is dedicated to the preservation of historic sites, had acquired Chartwell and the surrounding 79 acres of land around 1946 from a group of businessmen who were friends of his. For 50,000 pounds they purchased the home and land from Churchill, who was having difficulty paying for the upkeep of the mansion. He rented the home from the National Trust with the understanding that he and his wife could live there until his death or when he chose to move.
That wasn't the first time that Churchill had to be bailed out on the property, though. In 1938, Chartwell went up for sale because of financial difficulties. The house was advertised for sale as containing five reception rooms, 19 bed and dressing rooms, eight bathrooms, and being set in 80 acres, along with three cottages and a heated and floodlit swimming pool. The home was taken off the market when a friend and businessman agreed to help ease his Wall Street losses by taking on some of Churchill's debt for three years.
Churchill's boyhood home for a short time was Blenheim Palace (see slideshow), about eight miles from Oxford in a town called Woodstock. The palace was a gift from Queen Anne and a grateful nation to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough following his famous victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, according to the historians for the site. Winston Churchill was the grandson of the seventh Duke of Marlborough. Churchill's burying place at the Bladon churchyard can be seen from a tower at Blenheim.