February 1, 2016

Bloomsbury Group’s Charleston house to be renovated


Charleston. Image via Wikipedia

Charleston. Image via Wikipedia

Charleston, the house where the Bloomsbury Group lived and holidayed, is to undergo a major renovation to mark its centenary.

As Katherine Cowdrey at The Bookseller reports, the project has been made possible by Virginia Woolf’s great niece Virginia Nicholson and her husband William Nicholson, who donated £250,000 to kickstart the project. In addition to much-needed preservation work, the money will help to fund a new art gallery as well as a learning studio and archive space. The Charleston Trust, the charity organisation that oversees the house, hopes that the renovation will return the house to “a living artistic environment.”

Located in East Sussex, Charleston was the country house of Virginia Woolf’s sister Vanessa Bell and her husband Duncan Grant. The couple moved to the house in 1916 and received a stream of famous guests including Virginia and Leonard Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Roger Fry and E.M. Forster.

The house is notable for its interiors: Bell and Grant painted the house in the fresco style, painting bright scenes and shapes directly onto the walls, furniture and doors. This was complemented with art by Renoir, Picasso and Derain, and ceramics from the Omega workshops.

The Charleston Trust has so far raised over £5 million for the centenary project, and Nicholson’s donation has made a significant difference to the fundraising. She told The Bookseller:

I see this donation as helping to ensure the future of the place I have always loved, and where I spent the happiest times of my childhood. Our capacity to give this level of contribution to Charleston is entirely owing to Bill’s creative talent, industriously applied over thirty years. But we both feel that benefiting our community and helping to preserve and revitalise the inspirational and creative environment that is Charleston is an appropriate way to celebrate a lifetime’s imaginative output.






Zeljka Marosevic is the former managing director of Melville House UK.