Yesterday we went adenturing in Sussex with great friends June and Alan. The day was gorgeous, the company was ideal and the sights were storybook England.
After a stop for elevenses, we motored on to a pub in Berwick, The Cricketers’ Arms, which has been serving ale for over two hundred years. They served us nicely too and we were able to dine outside in the warm summer sun. Could have sat there all day.
But then it was on to the main event – nearby Charleston Farmhouse, most famously home to Virginia Woolf’s sister, Vanessa Bell, Vanessa’s husband Clive, the artist Duncan Grant and Duncan’s lover David Garnett. Yes, those Bloomsbury group folks were shocking in their day, but oh so creative. Everyone who was anyone came to visit or to live or to cohabitate. They made this ancient farmhouse into a work of art and the effect is stunning.
Full disclosure: no photos allowed, but these views cribbed from the web will give an idea of the amazing effect of their wonderful work. It was the kind of house that made me want to just curl up in one of the shabby, lumpy and oh-so-charming armchairs with a book for the rest of the day. Glorious place, with amazing artwork, textiles and ceramics to match.
And then there was the garden. It was the perfect walled haven, complete with lily pond. And just to make it more perfect, there was a little boy left over from the Bloomsbury era (the ghost of Quentin Bell?) who was running around, making it his own. How amazing.
We stayed until the Charleston Farmhouse cows came home, but would have happily moved in.
We made one other stop at Berwick Church, a small chapel nearby, notable for the extensive murals painted during WWII by the Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell. Somehow they restrained themselves from painting the grave stones, but the churchyard was equally charming.
But our day would not have been complete without a cream tea. In the village of Alfriston, we indulged, at a shop with tea cozies very worth noting. Where did our own servings of scones with jam and clotted cream go? Ooops, they just went too fast to capture.
A short stroll through Alfriston, and our day was almost done. And perfect it was. Nobody beats the English for charming villages, eccentric bohemians, lovely food rituals, and a comforting grip on history. At least in our book.