Charleston Farmhouse

Welcome to my new followers, thanks for joining me!

Have you ever visited Charleston Farmhouse in East Sussex?  On Saturday we took a trip to do just that.  The weather was a perfect summer's day and we left early so as to miss the traffic.  On the way we saw a field of poppies, so red and so sublime that people stopped their cars to take a walk.


Before the tour we stopped in the Charlston cottage garden for tea and cherry clafoutis.  The tea shop is decorated very much in the Bloomsbury period and we sat in the garden surrounded by flowers, fig trees and bees. 











I have to share this photo with you.  It reminded me so much of my childhood and the milkman...milk delivered the old fashioned way lined up outside the cottage tea shop.


Charleston was the home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and their group of friends who were known as the 'Bloomsbury Group'.  The house was everything that I thought it would be.  Vanessa wrote a letter to Roger Fry in 1916 and this is how she described it:

"It really is so lovely that I must show it to you soon, it's absolutely perfect I think.....the pond is most beautiful with a willow at one side and a stone or flint wall edging it all round the garden part, and a little lawn sloping down to it."


In 1916, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Vanessa's two sons, Julian and Quentin and David Garnett, moved to Charleston.  Gradually and throughout the years, various people came to stay at Charleston, some were just visitors and others stayed for longer periods of time.  They shunned the conventions of the Victorian way of life and instead followed the philosophy of G E Moore, who believed that one's prime objects in life was love, the creation and enjoyment of aesthetic experience and the pursuit of knowledge. 

Unfortunately cameras inside the house was strictly prohibited so I shall try and explain how magnificent the interiors were!  As soon as Vanessa took occupation of the house, she started to decorate the rooms, and the house was painted over several years.  The walls of the rooms have been hand painted to resemble wallpaper and some with what seems like a sponge technique, and I was very surprised to see that in one of the bedrooms, one entire wall was painted black!   The windows are draped in curtains designed by Duncan Grant and chairs propped with  cross stitch cushions sewn by his mother, Ethel Grant.  Arm chairs are covered in fabric designed either by Vanessa Bell or Duncan Grant.  The house is filled with handmade objects.  It's a very friendly house.  Light and airy and one gets the sense that there are people still living in the house.  There's a wonderful little sitting room, which they call the Garden Room,  small and intimate, hung with beautiful paintings,  decorated walls, and beautiful worn floorboards laid with hand woven rugs.  The garden can be viewed from both a window and the French doors and one can imagine how many summer days and evenings were spent with the scent of the garden flowers wafting into this sitting room as they discussed art or philosophy.  In 1939 Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant made Charleston their permanent home.





The last room we entered was the studio.  It's at the end of the house, overlooking the magnificent garden and is filled with light from the windows.  It's spacious too and very unlike a studio, it's furnished with, among other things, a beautiful Dutch Walnut cabinet, one of a pair which were once the property of the novelist W M Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair.  A Chaise Longue graces one wall and above it an ornate gilded mirror, both formerly owned by the painter Walter Sickert.


The studio 

Angelica Garnett, Vanessa's daughter with Duncan Grant said 'the studio was the citadel of the house, the sanctuary in which I spent the most treasured hours of my life.  It was here, basking in the atmosphere of hard work and concentration, that I felt the most important things would happen'.

The door leading out of the studio opens up to this tiny courtyard with a mosaic pavement.  This is the earliest decorative feature to have been made in the garden by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, helped by Barbara Bagenal.  The garden must have had an enormous influence on their creativity, as it is absolutely beautiful in every way.


the courtyard as you step outside the studio




A bust just outside the studio






At the end of the pathway stands a cast of Venus by Giovanni da Bologna, bought by Quentin and Olivier Bell in Brighton in the 1980s. 


Hope you enjoyed the tour - I have plenty more photos to share with you next time!

Have a lovely week and enjoy the sunshine!
Sharon
xxx





Comments

  1. The outdoor areas are so beautiful ( love the hollyhocks), I know the interior must be magnificent. The book pictures help to give us an idea of how nice it is. You must have had a wonderful day exploring and having tea.
    Hugs, Cindy

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    1. Hi Cindy, I've more garden photos to share in a later post, but the interiors were lovely, pity one couldn't take photos but I can understand why. It's a privately owned home and not part of the National Trust, a lovely day out! Have a lovely week! xx

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  2. What a treat! It's all amazing but the photo n6 captured my eyes! Wish I could sit in this table!

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    1. Dear Olympia, glad you liked the post, the tables and chairs in this little cafe garden were so welcoming sitting amongst the flowers, it was beautiful. Have a lovely week! xx

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  3. Hi Sharon,
    Such a wonderful post and beautiful dreamy pictures!It looks very romantic i think i shall have to visit one day.
    Love the milk bottles,Do you remember when the blue tits would peck little holes through the foil lids in the Winter to get to the cream? and singing 'God save our gracious Queen' at school before a little bottle of milk with a striped straw? You have made me all nostalgic ;)
    I hope your well and enjoying the sunshine xxx

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    1. I do indeed K, and it just brought back so many memories of early childhood school days. I'm really enjoying the sun down south although I confess it's a little too hot for me but it's bliss to feel to heat! Have a lovely week! xx

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  4. I saw your post in my sidebar and wanted to pop over immediately. Charleston has been on my wish-list for a long time. I still haven't visited :-) Your post looks lovely. I enjoyed every bit of it. The house and the gardens look so very pretty. Hopefully I will be able to visit one day.

    Happy week!

    Madelief x

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    1. Hi Madelief, you would love the house and gardens, as your garden is similar! Unfortunately I couldn't take photos of inside the house, and my description doesn't do it justice at all. You must visit some time when you are next in England, as in that area there are several historic places to visit which I plan on sharing in my next post! Have a lovely week. xx

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  5. I enjoyed the tour very much!

    I love the pic with the bottles of milk!!!

    ♥ franka

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    1. My favourite too Franka, so nostalgic!

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  6. I have such fond memories of Charleston House. Living in Tunbridge Wells we used to visit it regularly when I was younger. Your pictures and words have brought it all back to me, thank you!

    Stephanie

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    1. Thanks Stephanie so glad you enjoyed it - it was a lovely day out I'd love to go again, the house is beautiful but there is so much to absorb one needs to go back and do it again! xx

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  7. I'm ready to pack my bags. Thanks for the tour!

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    1. Hi Tia, thank you, glad you enjoyed it! Hugs xx

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  8. What a lovely post to read Sharon, thanks for sharing your lovely trip...
    Hugs
    Erna x

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    1. Thanks Erna, it was such a lovely day out, really enjoyable! Hugs xx

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  9. Sharon, que lindo post...adorei saber sobre esse lugar maravilhoso. Obrigada por compartilhar esse lindo passeio.
    Beijos.
    Sílvia

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    1. Thank you dear Silvia, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! Have a lovely week! Sharon x

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  10. Oooopppss, I pressed the wrong button, and now I don't know if my comment was sent, or not.
    Anyway, I enjoyed much seeing and reading this post, I can only imagine the lovely day you had when you visited it.

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    1. Hi Regina, it was a beautiful day out and the weather was just perfect! Happy week for you!

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