You definitely didn't have to hide your love away at Charleston House. In fact, there was freedom at Charleston to do whatever, whenever (and whomever)...for all who sought to do so. Keep reading, I'll explain.
On Friday, we spent the day at Charleston House in Lewes. Lewes (pronounced Lewis)is a country town of East Sussex. It took an hour by train to get to Lewes, then we had good 15 minute cab ride out to the estate. Charleston was the home of Vanessa Bell (Virginia Woolf’s sister) and her lover, Duncan Grant. It was also the country meeting place for the writers, painters and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Group. Vanessa’s husband, Clive Bell, also lived at Charleston at various times as did Duncan Grant’s gay lover, David Garnett. It was pretty much just your average case of polyfidelity. Whereas this living situation might seem very strange to us, evidently, they all got along and accepted each others “preferences.” As Dr. Kacz put it, "The Bloomsbury Group was a gathering of friends who lived in squares and loved in circles."
Indeed, the romantic rapport of this group was ever changing (and sometimes repeating) but they maintained their friendships I suppose by respecting the emotion involved in the journey of love. I believe Quentin Bell, Vanessa and Clive’s youngest son, offered a nice explanation of the group when he said, “I think the achievement of Bloomsbury has been to make us more tolerant people.” --I believe it is a message worth considering more often.
The tour of the house was especially exciting for those of us taking the class on Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group. Just about every inch of the interior was painted by Vanessa and Duncan and luckily, most of it had been preserved. We were not allowed to take photos in the house but I purchased an art book that documents the house. My favorite part of Charleston was the gardens. In my whole life I have not seen so many different kinds and colors of flowers and plants as I did there. I'll try to post some images later.
After a bittersweet goodbye to Charleston House, we came back to the city and got all dolled up to go to the symphony. That night we saw the London Philharmonic Orchestra perform Debussy’s La Mer, Edgar’s Cello Concerto and da dadada Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. Although I do not frequent symphonies often, this one definitely trumped all that I have seen. We were all very hungry after the show so we came back to Russell Square and had a late dinner at an Italian restaurant a few blocks from our hotel. I had gnocchi and it was delicious. That is all, for now.