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Place Schuman (Brussels), Metro Yser, Metro Simonis, Basilique / Landsroemlaan, Basilix Shopping Center / Avenue Charles Quint, Ghent E40 - Kortrijksesteenweg (#14)
trip by 4* coach, Eurotunnel return transfer, bottled water, great group of international people, a lifetime memory, entrance fees Chartwell and Down houses
Coach drop-off point:
Place Schuman, Metro Yser, Basilique / Landsroemlaan, Simonis, Merode, Madou, Arts/Loi, Belliard, Montgomery, Diamant, Meiser, Evere
Child ticket available:
Yes, for up to 16 years (€75), First add regular ticket(s) and then select child tickets on cart page.
Members please log in before registering, Non-members are welcome to join us, You can book as long as the [Book now] button is still active, even the evening before departure., For more (last-minute) information don't hesitate to mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0495-345144.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin
“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—
never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” – Sir Winston Churchill
Today we cross the Channel again and learn more about the lives of two of the greatest Brits that ever lived: Charles Darwin & Sir Winston Churchill. Both contributed in the most profound way to history. Whereas Darwin provided humanity with key insights into the development of life on Earth in the 19th century, Churchill played a key role in defending life and liberty in the 20th century. Lets honour these two giants by visiting their houses and amazing gardens in the 21st century!
We organised this trip in September 2016 and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. It’s a bit of a ride, but totally worth it!
Their beautiful and fascinating houses are coincidentally just 15 minutes driving apart on the Southwest side of London. Had they lived in the same eras, they surely would have been good neighbours! Both houses are highly-praised destinations (e.g. on Tripadvisor) and belong to the official English Heritage institution (Darwin’s Down House) and the National Trust (Churchill’s Chartwell House).
We depart as usual from Place Schuman by comfortable 4* luxury coach. You can also board at Metro Yser, Metro Simonis or on the big street behind Basilique and near the Basilix shopping center. Our coach has comfortable reclining seats with extra leg space, an on-board toilet, and air-conditioning.
In the early morning we first drive to Calais on the French coast. Along the way we make a short coffee- stop to stretch our legs and to get something to drink and eat. At the Eurotunnel terminal the bus boards the special train that takes us to Folkestone in just 35 minutes! Once in England we of course first change to the right side of the road 😉
The typical rolling hills of Kent
The trip from Folkestone to our first destination, the Chartwell House from Sir Winston Churchill in Westerham, Kent, goes through the amazing landscape of Kent with its rolling hills, scattered forests and hedgerow-separated meadows with cows and horses.
The impression Chartwell House and its gardens
The Chartwell House Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) is generally perceived as one of the greatest leaders in modern history. He was the war time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature and was a honorary citizen of the United States of America.
by Johan Darch (own work), via Wikimedia Commons
Expat Club arranged timed-entry for our group, so you won’t have to wait in line and are ensured to enter the Chartwell House and walk through it at your own pace. Guided tours are not allowed unfortunately, but rest assured that you get a good idea of how the man and his family lived. “Discover the house that Churchill called home, where he brought up his young family. Decorated as it was in the 1930s, make your way through rooms like the library, study, sitting room and dining room displayed as if the family have only just left the room. Explore the museum rooms filled with gifts that Churchill received and see the original collection that Churchill and the family kept at Chartwell. As you make your way around the house uncover the home and family man behind the statesman.” (source: National Trust website)
During our visit you also have time to visit the splendid gardens. Note that there are some steps as the garden itself has some steeps hills. By walking around here you can see the rose garden and rock garden, as well as the swimming pool, the ponds, the kitchen gardens and the lakes. It’s a beautiful scenery, make sure to take an empty SD-card with you so you can shoot as many pictures as you like.
“Daybreak at Cassis” by Churchill | from WikiArt
“When I get to heaven I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting.”
At the bottom of the apple orchard and next to the terraced cottages there is a studio in which Churchill spent much time on his beloved hobby… painting. Here you will see many of his beautiful finished and unfinished paintings. It’s in fact quite a remarkable collection, certainly since not many people know he was an avid painter. If you would like to know more about his work, at 12.30pm there is a lecture that you can attend.
When hungry or thirsty you are welcome to visit the Landemare café at the estate, named after Georgina Landemare who was the cook at Chartwell for a long time. You can find hot dishes or sandwiches, as well as the typical sweet and savoury scones, and of course a cup of tea.
by Mario Modesto (own work), via Wikimedia Commons
From the Chartwell House to the Down House At only 15 minutes driving from Westerham lies the city of Downe where naturalist Charles Darwin lived from 1842 in the Down house. The house is part of the English Heritage Collection that comprises 500 historic buildings and sites, including Stonehenge, Dover Castle and Hadrian’s Wall.
by Onboleman (own work), via Wikimedia Commons
It was at the Down House where Darwin further developed his evolution theory, after conceiving his initial ideas while he lived in London. On the first floor of the house you can learn more about his life, his scientific research as well as the controversies that it provoked back in the days (and still does). You will have the chance to see many objects such as manuscript pages from his masterpiece “The Origin of Species”, as well as his hat, microscope and notebooks.
Darwin’s study | by Modesto (own work), via Wikimedia Commons
While touring the rest of his house, including his office and bed room you can listen to the incredibly famous voice of Sir David Attenborough, possibly Darwin’s greatest fan, through a multimedia guide. Learn more about his family life, what he did at Down and how and where he worked. It’s the best way to understand who Charles Darwin was.
Attenborough has made countless nature documentaries (often for the BBC), but also produced the acclaimed documentary “Charles Darwin and the tree of life” explaining in understandable language and with beautiful images what was and is so special about the evolution theory.
Walk along the Darwin path | by Tedgrant (own work), via Wikimedia Commons
Darwin’s Greenhouse | by Mario Modesta (own work), via Wikimedia Commons
When you’ve seen the house, then just take a walk through the Down House gardens. It was here where he further thought out his theories on evolution and natural selection. The gardens were not only an outdoor laboratory for many of his experiments, but also a place to reflect. Twelve of his experiments have been recreated in the grounds and in the greenhouses.
In the late afternoon we will return to the coast to ensure we will be on time for our “train ferry” to mainland Europe. After another quick 35 minutes tunnel transfer we arrive in Calais and set course for Brussels where we should arrive at about 01h00. Due to the late return time we will stop at all pick-up points, as well as Louise, Merode, Montgomery, Diamant, and Yser. We also coordinate the sharing of Uber / taxi rides, so if you don’t live close to these locations you can always get home.
What is included in the trip fee?
Transportation with a 4* luxury coach
Transfer by Eurotunnel Calais-Folkstone
Entrance fees Chartwell (16 GBP) & Down Houses €12 GPB)