Charleston

Charleston, photograph by Tony Tree copyright The Charleston Trust
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‘It is not so much a house as a phenomenon’ Quentin Bell once said of Charleston. It was in 1916 that the phenomenon came into being, as Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and David Garnett made the move from Suffolk to Charleston, where Clive Bell and Maynard Keynes were also to be regular visitors. As conscientious objectors Grant and Garnett were exempted from military service providing they continued to work on the land and both found employment on a nearby farm. It was Virginia and Leonard Woolf, who lived locally, who had originally spotted the late 17th century Sussex farmhouse situated at the foot of the South Downs and encouraged Vanessa to make the move. Over the next 60 years the house was decorated by Bell and Grant, they painted walls, doors and furniture and produced decorated ceramics and needlepoint designs for their home.

After the death of Duncan Grant The Charleston Trust was formed to preserve the house and its remarkable collection, it has been described as ‘One of the most difficult and imaginative feats of restoration current in Britain’.

Charleston now hosts an active range of other associated events . Amongst these are a summer school, an annual festival, the Charleston Gallery, the quarterly Canvas publication, the Crafts Council listed shop and the continuing activities of the Friends of Charleston (who are now 1,400 strong).

Venue Type:

Historic house or home, Museum, Heritage site, Festivals

Opening hours

April-October
Wed-Sun & Bank holidays

Wed - Sat 1300 - 1800 (1200 – 1800 July & August)

Sun & Bank holidays 1400-1800
Last entry 1700

Closed: Mon Tues

Admission charges

Adults £11.00
Children (6-16) £6.00
Accessible (Ground Floor only) £6.00
Family £31.00
Students/Green Traveller/Unemployed £10.00

Discounts

  • National Art Pass

Charleston is the only surviving complete example of the decorative work of Bell and Grant, with walls, doors and furniture painted in their exuberant style. The house shows an evolution in decorative style throughout its different rooms. Initially only Vanessa’s bedroom (now the library), Clive Bell’s study door and window and Duncan’s bedroom were decorated. Later the designs spread throughout the house, including the spare room in 1936 and the garden room in 1945.

Charleston not only houses an impressive collection of art by its inhabitants but also a varied collection of other artist’s work including sculpture by Renoir and Gimond and paintings by Fry, Picasso, Sickert and Derain.

The collection is continually developing - recent acquisitions include Duncan Grant’s ‘Self-Portrait in a Turban’ 1909 purchased with support from The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, The National Art Collections Fund and The Pilgrim Trust and Duncan Grant’s copy of Piero della Francesca’s ‘Portrait of Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino’ 1904/5 (this purchase was the first project to be supported by the Quentin Bell Commemoration Fund founded in 1997). Amongst recent loans are ‘Flowers against Chintz’ by Duncan Grant, 1956, from the Arts Council Collection and a bronze bust of Lytton Strachey by Stephen Tomlin, circa 1930, on loan from the Keatley Trust. The Tate Gallery have lent two pictures to the collection each season since 1993.

Collection details

Archives, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Personalities

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.

Young Bohemians: Ceramics

  • 25 July 2017 10am-4pm

Workshops for children and teenagers
ages 12 to 16

Admission

£40 (£35 Friends)

image of the garden at Charleston

Festival of the Garden: The Culture of Place

  • 28 — 29 July 2017

Talks by leading landscape designers, gardeners and historians, gardening demonstrations and workshops. Full programme available online.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

£14/£12/£10 concessions

Website

http://www.charleston.org.uk/whats-on

A Gay Outing at Charleston

  • 30 July 2017 From 6pm

Tate curator Clare Barlow explores the stories behind the Queer British Art exhibition, from unrequited love to cross-dressing on the British stage, from prison doors to visions of queer community. With music from male voice choir Resound.

Admission

£25 (£20 Friends)

Website

http://www.charleston.org.uk/whats-on

image of Berwick Church

Four Quartets in Berwick Church

  • 5 August 2017 From 7:30pm

Optional guided walk from Charleston to Berwick included in the ticket price. The route will take walkers along the Old Coach Road, with talks on Eliot and readings of his poetry en route.

Admission

£18 (£16 Friends)

Website

http://www.charleston.org.uk/whats-on

image of oil painting

Oil Painting Masterclass

  • 14 August 2017 10am-4pm

Our creative workshops are taught by artists of great skill and imagination. Class sizes are small, meaning plenty of focused tuition. During our open season, the day begins with a tour of the House for inspiration. Students break for a delicious artisan lunch and the opportunity to wander in the Garden or visit the Shop. The day finishes with a chance to share work and experiences. The cost of the day includes the House tour, artisan lunch and all materials.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

£100 (£90 Friends)

Website

https://www.tickettailor.com/all-tickets/13257/5ff8/

Life Drawing

  • 29 August 2017 10am-4pm

Our creative workshops are taught by artists of great skill and imagination. Class sizes are small, meaning plenty of focused tuition. During our open season, the day begins with a tour of the House for inspiration. Students break for a delicious artisan lunch and the opportunity to wander in the Garden or visit the Shop. The day finishes with a chance to share work and experiences. The cost of the day includes the House tour, artisan lunch and all materials.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

£100 (£90 Friends)

Website

https://www.tickettailor.com/all-tickets/13257/5ff8/

Introduction to Drawing

  • 12 September 2017 10am-4pm

Our creative workshops are taught by artists of great skill and imagination. Class sizes are small, meaning plenty of focused tuition. During our open season, the day begins with a tour of the House for inspiration. Students break for a delicious artisan lunch and the opportunity to wander in the Garden or visit the Shop. The day finishes with a chance to share work and experiences. The cost of the day includes the House tour, artisan lunch and all materials.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

£90 (£80 Friends)

Website

https://www.tickettailor.com/all-tickets/13257/5ff8/

Cake decoration with Cressida Bell

  • 16 October 2017 10am-4pm

Our creative workshops are taught by artists of great skill and imagination. Class sizes are small, meaning plenty of focused tuition. During our open season, the day begins with a tour of the House for inspiration. Students break for a delicious artisan lunch and the opportunity to wander in the Garden or visit the Shop. The day finishes with a chance to share work and experiences. The cost of the day includes the House tour, artisan lunch and all materials.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

£140 (£130 Friends)

Website

https://www.tickettailor.com/all-tickets/13257/5ff8/

Young Bohemians: Memory Boxes

  • 24 October 2017 10am-4pm

Workshops for children and teenagers
ages 8 to 12

Admission

£40 (£35 Friends)

Website

https://www.tickettailor.com/all-tickets/13257/5ff8/

Painted Furniture Workshop

  • 30 October 2017 10am-4pm

Our creative workshops are taught by artists of great skill and imagination. Class sizes are small, meaning plenty of focused tuition. During our open season, the day begins with a tour of the House for inspiration. Students break for a delicious artisan lunch and the opportunity to wander in the Garden or visit the Shop. The day finishes with a chance to share work and experiences. The cost of the day includes the House tour, artisan lunch and all materials.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

£110 (£100 Friends)

Website

https://www.tickettailor.com/all-tickets/13257/5ff8/

Woodcut Christmas Cards

  • 28 November 2017 10am-4pm

Our creative workshops are taught by artists of great skill and imagination. Class sizes are small, meaning plenty of focused tuition. During our open season, the day begins with a tour of the House for inspiration. Students break for a delicious artisan lunch and the opportunity to wander in the Garden or visit the Shop. The day finishes with a chance to share work and experiences. The cost of the day includes the House tour, artisan lunch and all materials.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

£90 (£80 Friends)

Website

https://www.tickettailor.com/all-tickets/13257/5ff8/

image of Christmas wreath

Christmas Wreaths & Garlands

  • 4 December 2017 10am-4pm

Our creative workshops are taught by artists of great skill and imagination. Class sizes are small, meaning plenty of focused tuition. During our open season, the day begins with a tour of the House for inspiration. Students break for a delicious artisan lunch and the opportunity to wander in the Garden or visit the Shop. The day finishes with a chance to share work and experiences. The cost of the day includes the House tour, artisan lunch and all materials.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

£100 (£90 Friends)

Website

https://www.tickettailor.com/all-tickets/13257/5ff8/

Charleston
Near Firle
Lewes
East Sussex
BN8 6LL
England

Website

Charleston's intensely decorated interiors and overflowing gardens provide a truly individual experience. With the museum, cafe and shop also on site we recommend you allow half a day to enjoy all that Charleston has to offer.

www.charleston.org.uk

E-mail

info@charleston.org.uk

Telephone

Visitor Information

01323 811626

Group/ school bookings

01323 811626

Fax

01323 811628

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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