Charleston Farmhouse : An Artists’ Home and Garden

Welcome to CF shop

Welcome to Charleston Farmhouse Shop

In some ways very different from Monks House but in other ways similar; on the Friday of our stay we headed to Charleston Farmhouse just a few miles from Laughton Place. It’s a rather more slick presentation in that tickets are sold and one is booked on one of the timed tours which take place at twenty minute intervals throughout the opening hours (just Wednesday to Sunday during the season). No photography is allowed in the house. But like Monks House there is colour inside and out and the garden is relaxed and colourful and again reflected the atmosphere of the house itself.


Charleston Farmhouse

“Charleston is a property associated with the Bloomsbury group. It was the country home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and is an example of their decorative style within a domestic context, representing the fruition of over sixty years of artistic creativity.

In 1916 the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant moved to Sussex with their unconventional household. Over the following half century it became the country meeting place for the group of artists, writers and intellectuals known as Bloomsbury. Clive Bell, David Garnett and Maynard Keynes lived at Charleston for considerable periods; Virginia and Leonard Woolf, E. M. Forster, Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry were frequent visitors. Inspired by Italian fresco painting and the Post-Impressionists, the artists decorated the walls, doors and furniture at Charleston. The walled garden was redesigned in a style reminiscent of southern Europe, with mosaics, box hedges, gravel pathways and ponds, but with a touch of Bloomsbury humour in the placing of the statuary.


… humour in the placing of the statuary

“It’s most lovely, very solid and simple, with … perfectly flat windows and wonderful tiled roofs. 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, with formal bushes on it.” — Vanessa Bell

Charleston Pond

The pond is beautiful

The rooms on show form a complete example of the decorative art of the Bloomsbury artists: murals, painted furniture, ceramics, objects from the Omega Workshops, paintings and textiles. The collection includes work by Auguste Renoir, Picasso, Derain, Matthew Smith, Sickert and Eugène Delacroix.” [Adapted from here]

We arrived by 12 noon, when tickets go on sale, and our tour was booked for 1.20pm. In the meantime there was a delicious shop to mooch around and a video to watch. There is a cafe but it’s very limited in what it serves.

Our House Tour with Meg focused on A Day in the Life of Charleston, taking us on a journey of daily life in the house which included the Charleston kitchen not normally visited on other days. In fact the gardener actually lives in the house and it is his private kitchen.

From Charleston we headed for the nearby village of Berwick where we had lunch at Cricketers Arms and afterwards visited the Church of St Michael and All Angels where Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell decorated the walls with murals. The church itself had a rather unusual feel not just because of the famous murals but because in contrast to so many churches the windows are plain glass.

All the scenes are set in the local Sussex countryside and they were painted, for the most part, during the Second World War and they used members of their families and their Bloomsbury circle as models.


The Nativity by Vanessa Bell

A Sussex trug

The Nativity Close-up : A Sussex Trug


Christ in Majesty by Duncan Grant


The Annunciation by Vanessa Bell




7 comments on “Charleston Farmhouse : An Artists’ Home and Garden

  1. Red Hen says:

    A very informative post. I am almost entirely ignorant of the Bloomsbury influence on British literature but this, at least, gives me some insight.

    The vase of wild flowers is adorable. Something anyone in these islands could easily have right now.

  2. nilly says:

    I love Charleston and it’s arty, Bohemian décor is right up my street and, also, I’d love one of those torso urns. However, I don’t know if it is just me, but I was very disappointed in the Berwick church painted decorations. To me it looked as if the Bloomsberries just weren’t trying. Perhaps they thought they’d better not make it too avant-garde!

  3. […] I’ve been enjoying reading about Milady’s jaunt with her Swiss friends following in the footsteps of the Bloomsbury Group in Sussex. But I’ve also been in close contact with the area most closely associated with the group […]

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