Saturday, October 19, 2013

Vanessa and Virginia

For years I have wanted to go to Charleston, the richly decorated country home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant from 1916, and Monk's House, which Virginia and Leonard Woolf bought in 1919. Last week I saw them both. I couldn't take photos in Charleston, but you can see it at
     it's not a solid or comfortable house - it had served to house farm labourers before they rented it - and it's quite dark, not ideal for painters. Eventually they built on a large studio. Grant lived on there until 1978, and that was probably what kept the contents intact. The decorated furnishings are inexpressibly touching - light, playful, improvised, recycled, never made to last, and yet they have.
       Monk's House is much more liveable. Unlike Charleston it's not isolated, it sits snugly in the village of Rodmell. You can see the living rooms, part of the kitchen, Virginia's bedroom and her writing room, in a separate summerhouse at the back of the garden.


too has furnishings decorated by Bell and Grant - including the lighthouse motif on the bedroom fireplace.

The writing room has a broad view over the South Downs. You can't go in (or everyone would want to sit at the desk), so it has to be photographed through the window,

And of course I couldn't resist having a photo of me, looking soulful, taken in front of it, and another outside her bedroom. 


  1. These old homes and gardens get better with age don't they, glad you got to see them yourself

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  3. Sorry, Sue - I posted your comment twice by accident! Seeing all this was a real highlight, I loved it.