Chartwell House was the home of Sir Winston S Churchill, Prime Minister of England and the First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy, during the first and second world wars. The house and grounds are now owned, run and maintained by the National Trust. We were invited again by them to display and run our model warships on the lake in the lower grounds of Chartwell House, on the 8th and 9th June 2007. Other visits we have made to this excellent venue have been to celebrate various anniversaries such as D-Day, VE-Day and VJ-Day.
The day started a bit overcast with rain threatening. All hands were required to put up one large and two small gazebos along with tables and cloths for our models. We had a steady flow of people coming down to see us from the house during the day. Late in the afternoon there was a short sharp shower which did prevent people coming down, but when it stopped so people started coming again.
What the SWA members did not know was that I had arranged for Steve Bullock’s wife Linda and my wife Trudy to do some judging of the models there on display. During the afternoon they casually strolled round looking at the models and chose first, second and third for best static model warship.
Earlier on in the morning Judith Seaward, Area Manager for the National Trust came to see us to make sure everything was OK. It was at this point that Steve and myself approached Judith to see if she would present the trophies for the static competition on the Sunday afternoon. She excepted and was very delighted that we had asked her. The day went by with no catastrophic problems except someone got their model stuck on a shallow part of the lake very near to some stinging nettles. I can’t find out in my notes who it was, but I believe a little paddling was involved to retrieve the model. Also Hilary Breeze’s MTB broke down in the centre of the lake and had to be ignominiously pushed in by other warships.
Our models were left on site overnight as there was good security in place and one of our members stayed there during the night in his camper van.
Members were to arrive around 10am as the house and grounds were open to the public at 11am. We had a small change in the contingent, as our German member and Area rep. Herr Joerg Britsch and his son returned to Germany and in his place we had Jack Sharp for the day.
The weather during the day was good with mainly clear skies in the morning and more cloud in the afternoon. The wind was getting a bit gusty by lunchtime so we had to peg down the gazebos as they were trying to move in the wind. Needless to say it did not stop members from sailing on the lake and they sailed nearly all day.
Earlier in the morning, Bob Henderson put out a request to all members that could sail to be on the water at 2pm for a group photo. There were meant to be 12 models on the water and the picture shows only 10, as I believe there was a frequency problem that prevented the other two from sailing. Initially Bob wanted to have everyone sailing in a decreasing circle at the centre of the lake. Unfortunately my digital camera that would have taken the picture has not got a wide angle lens, so all you would have seen is a collection of dots and if I had zoomed in then you would only see a couple of models. The solution was to get everyone to stop some six to ten feet out. Judith Seaward came down to see us in the afternoon and whilst she was there, we asked if she would be available at 4pm to come down for the presentation of the trophies. All was now set for the surprise. At 3.45pm Steve and I announced to all the members that at 4pm there was going to be a closing ceremony and that everyone should be present at the stand. That was our excuse to ensure that all members were there. Just before 4pm Judith came down and Steve announced what was going on to the surprise of everyone.
1st place went to Barry Chapman with HMS Grey Wolf.
Our thanks to all members that attended the show:-B. Henderson, H Breeze, S. Bullock, J. Sharp, P. Dicker, B Chapman, R. Keates, J. Britsch, C. Watson, Mr. West-Thomas, P. Bellamy, J. Connelly and Tony Ansell.
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