Lewes, East Sussex, England online guide

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Charleston House and the Bloomsbury Group

<< Charleston: A Bloomsbury House and Garden

Charleston House, country meeting place of the famous Bloomsbury Group, started life as ordinary farmhouse.

Originally thought to have been 18th century, further investigations revealed it was an addition to a Elizabethan half-timbered house.

In poor condition with no modern day utilities; electricity, heating or phone, the owner, in the early 1900s, advertised for tenants as well as farm help.

But the one thing that Charleston did have, was position. Situated near Firle on the beautiful South Downs amongst stunning scenery with views over the Weald and with its own gardens, Charleston was sited perfectly.

In October 1916, Charleston House was occupied by Vanessa Bell. She was accompanied by her sons, Quentin and Julian, a maid, cook and nurse plus Duncan Grant and his at the time lover, David Bunny Garnett. Oh, and Henry, the dog.

Grant and Garnett took up the offer of working the land as this gave them exemption from fighting during the Great War being conscientious objectors.

Almost straight away, Fry and Grant began to transform the farmhouse.

As both of them were artists in their own right, the house was transformed with colour and fabrics to complement their paintings and some of the interior is still as we see it today.

With their links to the art, literary and political world, Charleston House soon became a base for the famous Bloomsbury Group.