CHARLESTON, BLOOMSBURY'S COUNTRY RETREAT
Firle, Lewes - Sunday 22 August 2004
Usually the Club makes return visits to favourite locations and often some of the members have
made private visits beforehand but this was a new venue for the Club and none of the members attending
visited before, which was surprising as Charleston is off the A27, quite near Lewes.
Charleston is an old Sussex farm house, originally part of the Firle estate belonging to the Gage
family. It was taken by Vanessa Bell as a country retreat for her family and friends during the
Frst World War. The 'friends' were a group of artists, writers, journalists and economists know
as the Bloomsbury Set - hence Charleston is also known as 'Bloomsbury in Sussex'. They seemed to
lead an unconventional life, whether here or in London and the Club members were given a fascinating
conducted private tour of the house before being opened to the public. The house had been completely
painted by the Set and contained many mementoes of their presence.
Forty-five members, including several new to the Club, attended in twenty Club cars. The weather
held and members were able to picnic round the lily pond after the tour.
Maurice Pitchford - Section Committee Member