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Private motor tour to Chartwell in Kent

What experiences have folks had of private tours of Churchill's home, Chartwell? We are staying in London and thinking of engaging a company called "With Locals" that claims to offer a knowledgeable driver/guide, with a pick-up point at a rail station south of London and a five-hour personal tour to Chartwell and back to the rail station. In six self-guided trips to the UK over the past decade, previously have not tried a privately guided motor tour.

We're experienced with underground and rail travel in and around London and outlying areas, but haven't figured out a convenient way to get from London to Chartwell. A private tour looks pricey for two people, but it includes admission into Chartwell and seems more pleasant than alternatives. But, does "With Locals" deliver what it promises ... a reliable, knowledgeable driver/guide?

Also, do I need check that the company carries the appropriate liability insurance for its business of conveying travelers, or is this a non-issue?

--John

Posted by
4859 posts

I live in Kent, fairly near Chartwell. I have never heard of With Locals.

You really don’t need a tour of the property, as there are National Trust volunteers in each room who have a wealth of knowledge and will be able to answer any queries you may have.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you, Ramblin'On and Jennifer, for the comments. We are aware of the rail and taxi combination from London to Seven Oaks or Oxted as alternative means to reach Chartwell, and I should have made that clear. We also have read about the helpful staff throughout the Chartwell house.

Our main concern is the crowd for entry into the house on our projected visit on a week day in early July. We understand that timed entry tickets can be purchased in advance and we will endeavor to obtain the earliest entry (11:30 AM?). The advantage of the private tour as described by "With Locals" is that the driver/guide will get us to the property in time for the timed entry and arranges for the admission as part of the tour price. We won't have to get into the taxi rank to get to the property and we won't have to call for a taxi to get back to the rail station. We just have to get from London to the rail station at Bromley South a bit ahead of the designated meet-up time ... we would have to do the rail travel in any case to Seven Oaks or Oxted and then take a taxi the rest of the way to Chartwell. Thus, we are asking for anyone's experience specifically with "With Locals" to touring Chartwell as one option that we are primarily evaluating for the travel convenience. balancing that with the added cost of a private driver. If the driver also is a knowledgeable guide for the area and for Chartwell in particular, so much the better.

Jennifer and Ramblin'On - Rick Steves has often recommended hiring local guides in his publications and videos. From their various websites, it appears that "With Locals" is an international firm that works as a platform for individuals to post their own touring services as independent contractors. While researching on the internet, I stumbled across the "With Locals" private tour of Chartwell site as I was exploring means of reaching Chartwell from London. It looks like I could sign up with "With Locals" to give motor tours of Hollywood landmarks in Los Angeles. I do carry ordinary car insurance, but I think that I would have to get a commercial driver's license and commercial vehicle insurance as a common carrier in California and I'm not sure how to get to Marilyn Monroe's grave, so my qualifications as a tour guide for Hollywood may be somewhat suspect. That's why we are interested in anyone's experience with "With Locals" for this particular tour. Thank you for your interest ... let's see what others have to say.

--John

Posted by
26011 posts

Much like Jennifer, that company is a new name to me.

I've enjoyed Chartwell, but in the several visits I have made there I've never been troubled with crowds. Timed tickets to a house is fairly common with National Trust properties.

I don't say that there are never crowds, but that I've run into them at that property.

Both the house and grounds are quite nice. My wife and I are usually in and out in an hour or an hour and a half - we visit when we are passing sometimes. Unless something has happened recently it isn't one of the National Trust leading properties.

Is there a particular Churchill event happening during your visit?

Is it the Churchill connection drawing you, or the painting, or the setting, or the garden or the house that calls to you?

Posted by
4859 posts

I have been to Chartwell numerous times at various times of year and have always gone straight in and not been troubled with crowds or queues. It’s not as popular as say Sissinghurst Gardens owned by the National Trust.

You want to use Sevenoaks (not Seven Oaks) or Edenbridge, not Bromley station, which is miles away.

Posted by
1 posts

We bought tickets to Chartwell online and took an Uber from our London hotel directly to Chartwell. We didn't need a guide because there were Trust employees in each room who explained in great detail the history of the home. We were unable to get an Uber to pick us up so the gift shop called a taxi to take us to the train station. However, the driver agreed to drive us back to our hotel for about the same price our 2 train tickets would have cost. He was delightful and shared even more history about the area. We originally booked a private tour like you're describing because they would have picked us up at our hotel. They canceled so we went on our on and using Uber plus taxi was much less than the tour. Highly recommend it! Oh, if you go on a Friday you can see Churchill's bedroom which is just as he left it. If you go on other days, ask them to show you pictures of it.

Posted by
3299 posts

We visited both Ightham Mote and Chartwell on the same day and there were no crowds to get into either. Remember that just because RS often recommends getting a local guide, that doesn’t mean you have to get one. My wife and I prefer to tour a location at our pace, not a guides pace. As stated, the National Trust docents have a wealth of knowledge so hiring a guide isn’t really necessary. We had a rental car and getting there was easy.