I recently spent an idyllic English summer day at Charleston House in the rolling countryside of East Sussex, England doing some research for some workshops I’m giving there in October. The 17th century farmhouse was the home of the artist Vanessa Bell (Virginia Woolf’s elder sister) and her lover the artist Duncan Grant, as well as a fluid group of husbands,friends, lovers and children for first part of the 20th century. It was the country home of many of the Bloomsbury Group members, and in honour of its literary heritage it holds a major international literary festival there every spring.
But the thing that interests me the most about Charleston House are the delightful interiors where were designed and decorated over the years by Vanessa and Duncan in what has become know as the “Charleston Style”. It’s all still there, repaired, conserved and looking as if Vanessa or Duncan might walk into the Garden Room with a cup of tea and a good book at any moment.
But it was a lovely summer day, and after an afternoon exploring the house’s rooms and picture library, I headed out into the English garden to enjoy the warm sun, the chirps of the birds, and the scent of late summer flowers carried on the air by the warm breeze.
Charleston House, Firle, East Sussex BN8 6LL