Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Charleston in Sussex - Part One

Another one from the archives.  I actually have a new camera but I'm still figuring out how to use it.

If you are a fan of early 20th century English literature, you might know about the Bloomsbury Group,

a loose affiliation of artists, writers and intellectuals who gathered around the sisters Virginia Woolf

and Vanessa Bell.  Charleston was Vanessa's country retreat when London was being bombed during the second World War and she lived and made art here

with her children, successive husbands and lovers, artist/collaborators and THEIR successive

lovers and collaborators.

The house is very charming with lots of art and arty decorative features.  Mr. Paradis, who generally

abhors trudging around "dead rich peoples' piles of old junk" i.e., (ahem) English Stately Homes,

quite liked Charleston.  And figured it might be the kind of house he'd live in if he let me and my friends camp out and paint the walls freehand and hold needlepoint workshops all hours and drink wine and fall asleep on each other.

Photos aren't allowed INSIDE the house sadly.  You will have seen fabulous Matisse-ey figures flanking the fireplace of this stunning room, the painting studio (a former chicken run) in various publications.  In the week, you can visit the house only with a guide so be ready, the tour will end there and you might be rushed out without properly enjoying it. It is much airier and more light than most photos give the impression of.   I would recommend a weekend visit (which might be more crowded) but you can poke around with more freedom and see the kitchen, too.  

Nearby is a lovely church decorated by Roger Fry's Omega Workshops, a nice country pub, (more on this soon) and a little further afield, Virginia's home, Monk's House in Rodmell, and if you are into gardens the famous garden and house "Great Dixter".  It's really worth planning a week or so down here in Sussex which will give you enough time to visit these places as well as Brighton and Lewes which are very nice towns.  From Charleston you can walk up the Firle Beacon, on the South Downs, a truly glorious thing to do on an English summer day.

Anybody wish it could be vacation time again?


  1. I love the artwork that came from that group. I have a couple books on the Bloomsbury clan - and yes - the interior painted fireplace screen, shoji, mantle, and fabrics (swoon) ... Someday I would love to visit Charleston. That group has been such inspiration to me!

  2. J'aimerai beaucoup visiter un jour le Sussex car j'adore la littérature anglaise de cette é aussi les jardins anglais et les y en a un depuis hier sur ma bannière de blog...bonne journée et merci pour tes encouragements pour mon projet...!

  3. Très jolies photos, bien colorées, bien fleuries, c'est un petit Paradis, si si...bonne journée...

  4. Wow, love the flowers! Beautiful surrounding!