Europe Travel · May 12, 2024

An Afternoon At Charleston


A couple of weekends ago, on a warm April afternoon (possibly one of the first we’d had when it wasn’t raining), we headed down to beautiful Charleston for a well-overdue explore of the house and gardens in the heart of Sussex…

At the moment, free weekends for me are usually spent catching up on washing like a military operation, changing the beds and diving into my laptop to finally catch up on the weeks unfinished work- so having the time to be slow, take in the intricate small details and do things at a pace which isn’t reminiscent of a sponsored mini marathon always feels like a real luxury.

And what a location to spend an afternoon too! The charm of Charleston is that it feels like a special window into a very unique way of living, and one that feels so distant from the way many of us operate nowadays. Having caught glimpses of the stunning home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant online and through word of mouth from long-adoring visiting friends- it’s been top of my list to tick off for the longest time and it couldn’t have blown me away more.


Incredibly, despite being lived in from 1916 and a base for the Bloomsbury set in the years following, there’s something surprisingly contemporary about this beautiful farmhouse. Preserved in its lived-in state, the house is a museum which feels more like quietly exploring a ridiculously talented (and free-spirited) friends house whilst they’re out. Having the opportunity to see everything in such intricate detail; be that paintings, personal files, books carefully bound by bowed ribbon, or half used paints left out in their studio feels incredibly intimate in a way you don’t often experience, and something that photos don’t really capture (even though, if you’re anything like me- you’ll end up taking hundreds)! The fact you can also explore the gardens which provided such enormous inspiration to the group during their time living here, feels like an incredibly special touch and a real opportunity to see the world through their eyes, at least in a small way.



I think the thing that blew me away the most was the way the creativity was channelled throughout the home. I’ve never felt such an impulsive need to go home and paint every magnolia or plain wooden surface with something, anything (before catching up with myself and realising…. I’m not Vanessa Bell). With sun-like circles, swirls and almost melodic brush strokes on every available surface- kitchen tiles finished with intricate blousy blooms, light fittings embellished with jewel-hued beads and painterly style finishes adorning canvasses- it’s a total heaven for ideas and inspiration alike, and a very special place to spend an April afternoon.



1 Comment

  • Reply
    May 13, 2024 at 11:14 pm

    This was absolutely beautiful, thank you for sharing!

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