Starring role for Charleston, Bloomsbury set’s retreat

    Charleston House was the country meeting place of the Bloomsbury group Credit: Penelope Fewster. Courtesy of the Charleston Trust.
    The country meeting place of the Bloomsbury group between Brighton and Eastbourne in Sussex is set to feature on the small screen when a new drama about the artists airs next week.
    Charleston House was the home of Vanessa Bell whose unconventional life forms the focus of BBC drama Life in Squares. The farmhouse welcomed literary, intellectual and artistic greats such as Clive Bell, Maynard Keynes, Virginia Woof and EM Forster over many years. The trilogy, filmed in part at Charleston last September, dramatises the lives of the Bloomsbury group over more than 40 years and will focus on the story of artist Vanessa Bell.
    Lucy Bedford, executive producer of Life in Squares, said: “An early and crucial decision was to put Vanessa at the centre of the piece. Virginia [Woolf]  was a towering genius, her achievements impossible to deny and her struggles well documented. Vanessa was quieter, harder to pin down.” The artists, inspired by Italian fresco painting and Post-Impressionists, decorated the wall, 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.
    Almost all of the filming that happened at Charleston was carried out in the Studio, Garden Room and Vanessa Bell’s bedroom, all rooms with access to the Walled Garden. Charleston is presented to look and feel as it did when the family lived here and, as a result, is open to public by guided tour only. However, the house has extended summer opening hours during August so that anyone inspired to visit us as a result of watching the series can hopefully do so.
    Find more information on visiting Charleston here.


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