What shall I tell you about today???? Perhaps you would like to do the Charleston?

Everyone into the car!  I’m thinking our Volvo is a true-life time machine, it drives us right into history every day!  In the last couple of days, we went to Sissinghurst to see the garden of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson; we’ve been to Bateman’s, Rudyard Kipling’s warm and wonderful home near Burwash, down the same narrow roads he drove back then — it’s so hard to choose what to show you today.  But yesterday was a day of color and magic so I choose yesterday!

We are in very good hands, Joe and our darling English friend Siobhan are plotting our course through the green country hedgerows lined in Queen Anne’s Lace (the thing they call Cow Parsley), overhung with fragrant Hawthorn and ancient horse chestnut trees in bloom.  Just like going through the wardrobe, when we emerge on the other side, we will be somewhere we’ve never been before, a house Siobhan told us about, an amazing house with artistic history and personality called Charleston, outside of Lewes in East Sussex.  Ready?  Got your seat belts on?  OK, here we go!

In 1916, the author, Virginia Woolf  (pictured right), found a large old farmhouse in the country which was available for lease.  Virginia thought it would be perfect for her beloved artist sister Vanessa Bell and her family.  (Already, so interesting!).  Vanessa loved it, took it, and this house became the center of a literary and artist group of rather Bohemian friends (which is very brave in 1916 for women who are still in long skirts) called the Bloomsbury Group. The house is still there, still furnished as it was when they left it, and open to the public.  And it was at least 100% more exciting and interesting than I ever imagined.  I have spent hours on the internet researching the Bloomsbury group this morning . . . there’s so much more if you want it!

Small groups such as ours are able to walk through the house in one-hour tours led by a knowledgeable guide, passionate about sharing her wealth of knowledge on the subject and willing to answer all our questions.  The only disappointment was that photography of the interior was not allowed.  I found these two images of the inside of the house above on the internet, to give you at least a bit of an idea of what it’s about.  What Vanessa (in the photo below, left) and her artist-partner and father of some of her children, Duncan Grant did (to try and put it in a nutshell), is to decoratively, charmingly paint or stencil every single corner of this house.  Around the fireplaces, all the bookcases, the walls of course, the chairs and tables; they painted beautiful paintings which hang in every room; they designed jaunty colorful fabrics to drape the windows and beds, to cover the chairs, and needlepoint pillows in what I would describe as colorful, whimsical, sophisticated, elegance, in a style now called “Arts and Crafts.”  I didn’t find a photo of the dining room, but the large round table in the middle of the room seats twelve comfortably, and was gorgeously hand-painted by Vanessa.  Around the table, in a style reminiscent of the Algonquin round table, gathered what turned out to be some of the intellectual and artistic elite of the day, E.M. Forster (who wrote A Room with a View and Howard’s End among other things) was there, Virginia Woolf and her literary friends, several well known artists of the time, a famous economist, and all their children.  At the time, early in the 20th century, they were like any group of young people living together in a group home (like Friends, only smarter, and living quite a bit further outside the box than even Phoebe and Joey); they had lots of energy, believed in their dreams; but there was never a lot of money around.  Which didn’t stop these people from making something from nothing every day.  Home and domesticity are the main themes represented in their paintings . . . I thought you’d like to see a few of them.

This one is by Duncan Grant, Vanessa’s partner, called A Room with a View.

Vanessa painted this gorgeous still life.

Duncan Grant painted Spring!  I think he might have the happy gene.

Vanessa painted fruit!

They both did portraits, and who needs wallpaper, let’s just paint the walls!  They painted old pieces of furniture they picked up, and mixed and matched periods any old which way they wanted, and it all looks wonderful.

This is Vanessa’s art studio, right next to her bedroom.  She painted the fireplace!  They painted lampshades and made China and pottery too.  It is said that, at that time, not many people lived life just the way they wanted, but these people did.   Out back, to our delight, we found their lushly planted walled garden; we were allowed to wander through it to our heart’s content.

And you can see, they had as much fun “painting” the garden with colorful flowers as they did the rest of the house.  I love these people!  Would like to see a picture of the actual house?

Here it is, not crazy painted on the outside as you might expect, but tall and calm with milk blue trim, surrounded by birdsong on the English coast waiting for you to come visit!  More wonderful proof of “If you can dream it, you can make it so!”

 We can only imagine what this garden will look like later this summer, when the roses that grow on all the walls, over the windows and doors, are in bloom!

But something tells me that it will be a very colorful!  Wish I would be here to see it.  Would love to see it in the snow too.  There are benches to sit on to listen to the bees in this small garden; there are paths, hedges, and arches.  There was a baby bird on the wall being fed by a mommy.  You may say to yourself, hearing the blackbird singing in the apple tree, let’s never leave here!  Right?  But let’s not go yet — wouldn’t a cup of tea and a little something to munch on go good right now???

Because, attached to this house is the most wonderful tea room.  I know I’m going to love it because on the counter there’s a jug of flowers from the garden, a jug of fresh cream from the local dairy.  Where shall we sit?  By the window?

I love the Cath Kidston oilcloths covering the powder blue tables!

And there’s room for all of us in this English prettiness!

Anyone rather sit outside in the garden?  You can do that too . . .

Look girlfriends!  All the cups are Emma!!  Just like the ones we have!!  Oooo, I think I like it here!  (Don’t forget, we’re going to the Emma Factory next month!  So excited!)

Cake anyone?

Anything besides tea?  This Rose Lemonade is my newest passion.  Pink, sparkling, and delicious, with just a touch of rose, yum!!!!  And this “Shandy” everyone is talking about is really good, not bad at all, I’m not a beer person, but this is delicious too.

I didn’t take photos of the food because we were just too busy eating and I forgot, because I had the grilled brie sandwich with tomato and pesto; I was so busy going “mmmm,” licking dripping brie from the crust, by the time I remembered I had a camera, my sandwich was gone!  On the way out, we noticed, as behooves a place where art reigns number one, the colored pencils and paper available on a table by the door . . . and this darling work of art left behind by someone we never saw by the name of Eleanor Farwell . . . she titled it “Sheep on the Loose.”

After a visit to the gift store at Charleston (oh yes, we brake for gift stores), we knew we weren’t done . . . over hill and dale we drove to the darling town of Alfriston . . . which is a story for another day!  So far, I’ll just tell you, not to keep you guessing, we haven’t bought the pink house, but the idea did cross our minds! 🙂  I know it crossed yours too!  I hope you had a good time today . . .  If you like, here are more views of Charleston…. I hope you put this on your list of places not to miss in this lifetime.  Try for June, when the roses are in bloom!  Your homework for today; to give a corner of your house the Charleston Arts and Crafts look in a really easy way, find the equivalent of some bright English meadow flowers, stuff them into a jug (that’s English for “pitcher”) or jam jar. Put it on top of a stack of old books.  And, have a wonderful day!!!!  xoxo

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267 Responses to Charleston!

  1. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    WOW WOW WOW – is all I can say. I’m speechless!

  2. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Great hat Joe, & Siobhan’s outfit I love too! A beautiful blog today (as are all your blogs)! And, yes, I was considering buying the pink house!! Great home tour, and the fabrics are so interesting, and the paintings, including the walls! The gardens are fabulous! I’m happy now, I can carry on! A kazillion thanks! xoxoxo

  3. Patricia H. says:

    Wow how wonderful! I love those paintings- love the house- love the tea shop- love the tables! Looks like a perfect day out. Thank you for sharing. I’ll have to add it to my list of places to go. It’s another thing to love about England- you could spend the rest of your life there and not see every wonderful thing there is to see. xx

  4. NANCY JO says:

    Hi Susan,
    Well that was fun. I’m looking up everything about England that I can find, probably couldn’t do that in a lifetime, but I’m working on it. Love the oufit and shoes your friend is wearing. Thank you for the nice tour.
    Nancy Jo

  5. Julie says:

    Breathtakingly beautiful-
    in one word…. bucolic !
    Your photos and post are so peaceful & relaxing,
    can only imagine, experiencing it firsthand.
    Thanks for capturing & sharing serenity.

  6. Ann says:

    You know Susan you are visiting all the places I’ve always wanted to – I’m so glad I can accompany you. I adore anything to do with the Bloomsbury Group. Love that spring painting. And I love it that you are visiting all the tea rooms and gift shops – we British are always very put out if there isn’t a tea room to visit on a day out…… luckily there almost always is! If you are going that way I’d recommend David Austin Roses’ tea room and shop. Its heavenly!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve heard that! I adore the fact that you have tea rooms everywhere, and that all the pubs have picnic tables! So civilized!

  7. Mrs.Pettigrew says:

    I am having so much fun traveling with you. It’s like we are there too! Thank you for sharing, look forward to more.

  8. Ellette says:

    thank you for the the tour. I am so looking forward to many more. Making a trip to England is on my bucket list! My maiden name is Upham and I guess there is a town in England named that. Don’t know where it is exactly and am going to look it up as soon as I send this. Happy travels!

  9. Karen P - Wisconsin says:

    Wow! What a fun visit! I love the colorful dotty chair in the first pictures… a rainbow hitting bubbles that are floating in the sky! That must have been such a cheery house in which they lived! When I was scrolling down and saw the tea tables I said “Oh! Cath Kidston oilcloth tablecloths!” and then saw that was your next comment! LOVE Cath Kidston….and Emma mugs….a charming duo, for sure! Can’t wait to see what fun thing “we’ll” be doing next! SOOOOOO much to see and you don’t want to miss a thing! How can it all be fit in?!

  10. Sharon Byars says:

    O MY GOODNESS. ….. What a treat! Loved the photos of the house but especially the art! I am a portrait painter and “in love” with their style. especially Duncan’s Room with a View. I am thinking Virginia was a writer…was there any art by her in the house? Thank you so much for this tour!!

  11. Norma Herrin says:

    I had so much fun today!

  12. BJ says:

    Loved our outing to Charleston. So glad I got to go along. What and amazing place. And then such a yummy tea afterwards. The lemonade sounds delightfully refreshing.

  13. Susan in Texas says:

    I know you have lots of smiles as you look at your photos! They make me smile too!!!!

  14. Nellie says:

    Absolutely wonderful way to spend a Wednesday! I just loved all of it! Thank you again for letting us join you.

    xoxo Nellie

  15. Jean says:

    Great photos and comments. I can’t wait til Alfriston and hope you and Joe made it to “Much Ado” Bookshop. It moved from Marblehead MA several years ago and is still wonderful.

  16. Rachel says:

    I confuse people here when I refer to everything as a jug 🙂 But I can’t help it!
    These posts are making me feel homesick!

  17. Pam Woods says:

    Oh, my GOODNESS…. It’s more than I imagined it would be… every place that I would like to visit were I to visit the UK…. Thank you, thank you, thank you… So grateful for technology that we can be part of your adventures!!! Have great fun and looking forward to the next days of surprises!! All the best, Pam

  18. Linda Pintarell says:

    WOW – I love Charlston because I LOVE whimsical. My imagination runnith over thinking of the joyous times they must have had putting that all together! What fun! My utmost gratitude for taking us on this trip with you.

  19. Joe looks too darn cute in that hat! And good thing he keeps you on schedule, because if we had missed any of today’s adventure I would be sad. I love everything about this house/cottage. Can’t wait to visit. Thank you for sharing the photos. Makes one realize that clutter, whimsical decorating, refurbished worn furniture and creative painting all done with an artistic touch can be sheer magic. Now if I tried that……..You must have been in heaven visiting Charleston. Now don’t get any ideas about moving there unless you intend to take all of us.

  20. Robin in New Jersey says:

    Beautiful! Oh the loveliness!

    You do know how blessed you are to have a husband like Joe? My husband would be sitting outside somewhere waiting for me to come out so we could head to the next place.

    Have a great day!

  21. Jack says:

    Now you’re loggin . . . er, I mean bloggin’– interesting flowers in Vanessa’s painting — two Artichoke blossoms! Siobhan’s total outfit was so British, wool plaid dress with heavy cotton stockings and high top shoes! That girl isn’t going to get cold! And love Joe in his traditional Beanie. Anyway, a very good outing and portrayed that bohemian lifestyle very well. Any ideas as to how they earned their income in that day and age? With all they had going on in every room it appeared they lived in very cluttered spaces! How was the Kitchen?

    • sbranch says:

      We didn’t get to see the kitchen! We asked, but it wasn’t on the tour that day. They earned their livings by selling paintings, selling their talents as house decorators; also Virginia had some money, so she helped them.

  22. karen says:

    I’m drooling over your sandwich!! YUM.. and that lovely bohemian house!.. such gifted free spirits!.. the world needs more of them.

  23. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Good Day Sweet Sue…I think you just “Missed” Me On Twitter 🙂 I was Flying around & Poof! There You were! Just for a Moment!… 🙂 Ok I am Doing The Charlston! (always have My Dancing Shoes On!) 🙂 ok These Photos are Beyond Gorgeous! Joe & His Beret!… very British 🙂 Herbster would Love sipping on a Shandy…& I think I would Be Addicted to Your Rose Lemonade…Scrumptious!…ok I’ve Hopped into The Volvo… Your Magical “Time~Machine” My Seat Belt is On…I am ready….Here We Go…I’m so Happy You are Having The Time of Your Life Sweet Sue…Pretty British Pixie~Dust Everywhere! Yay! Love & Huge Hugzzzzzzzzzz My Friend! xoxo Poof!✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*.✫*¨*.

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Angie, yes I’m definitely not hanging around the house as much these days! 🙂 Nice to hear from you!

      • Angie(Tink!) says:

        Hello Sweet Sue….We had a Rainy Day Yesterday & I Imagined it was British~Rain…Delightful! 🙂 Have Fun! 🙂 xoxo Poof!✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*.✫*¨*.

  24. Carol Divis says:

    How wonderful that you are sharing all the lovely discoveries you are making on your trip. Certainly encourages further investigation on the sites you show.
    Hope you will be in England long enough to enjoy the beautiful roses as they bloom. Nothing prettier than a blooming climbing rose surrounding a doorway.
    Thanks again, Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      I think we will, we’re here until the last week of June, we should get some roses by then if the sun gets a little warmmer (and stays out!).

  25. mari says:

    Susan !!!!! This trip just keeps getting better and better!!!! Now I really know it’s true that there are so many lovely English villages still remaining – your pictures are just wonderful – I am so enjoying this!!!!! Sweet you to include us and put in the work of blogging and photos and links to all the sweetness and food and beauty of England – looking forward to each new day ahead!!! ♥♥♥

  26. Fran Sigdestad says:

    Thank you! What a wonderful day! Since I can’t hug you in person, I send them via email to you and Joe. I agree I think Duncan has the happy gene. I always love paintings with paths because I can dream about where I think they might go. Did you see any kitties on your travel yesterday? How are Jack and Girl Kitty doing? Wouldn’t it be fun to sit in that garden with a kitty playing by your feet? xoxo

  27. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Loved seeing the house and gardens–I’ve read about the Bloomsbury group before, so was fascinating to see. The tea rooms sound like fun–how civilized! Sounds like you are having fun–look forward to seeing the next “installation”!

  28. Jenny says:

    This post was so inspiring — I feel like painting my walls today! And buying some of that oilcloth for my table! And planting more forget-me-nots! Thanks you so much, Susan, for taking the time to tell us about your travels. This is really so fun for me. What a gift, that I can sit at my desk here in Montana and see all the sights of England with you!

  29. Pamela Jewett says:

    Hi Susan,
    I am in a swoon! Love Siobhan’s outfit and Joe’s beret and all of the wonderful art work. I will delve into the Bloomsbury Group and Charleston more deeply.
    What a treat.
    xoxo Pam

  30. sbranch says:

    Love hearing from you!!! Now, guess what? I’m going out to look closer in those shoe stores here in Tenterden! Cute ones! So byeee, for now … I’ll put up more comments when I get back! xoxo

  31. Sherry Kennedy says:

    What a lovely way to start my day! I think I happily have sensory overload after experiencing Charleston. It’s so inspiring to see the beautiful painted walls and furniture. What a treat! Thank you and Joe for including us girlfriends in your daily jaunts. xoxoxo

  32. Ann says:

    I love Vanessa! What a perfect day you had. And what a gift you have for making us all feel like we were along on the visit as well. I have to thank you again for being so good to us girlfriends.

  33. Regina Brown says:

    Wow, Susan, Thank-you so much for sharing your trip!!! Loved their house!! Love everything about England!!

  34. Rosanne from Oregon says:

    The photos of the house and garden remind me of a Monet Painting, yet are so very English. After the lovely tour, I need to wander into the SB gift shop and buy myself a souvenir – perhaps a new Emma mug! Loving this vacation!

  35. Debby Gibbs says:

    OHHH, what a way to start the day! I feel like I just visited a place in my heart….it speaks to every part of me. The colors , pictures , flowers, house, tea, gift shop…if I could twitch my nose and make a dream come true—-that’s where I’d be! Thank you so much…….

  36. Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

    Hi Darling Susan, Volvo—Excellent choice!!! More later, xoxo, kathy

  37. Martha Ellen says:

    The Bloomsbury Group sounds very intriguing–have to do more research! The gardens are quite lovely. Thank you so much for all you share with us. Love having a chaffeur! xoxo ♥

  38. Stacey says:

    Oh, Susan! What an exquisite day! Absolutely frabjous! When I was blessed to visit England about 6 years ago, I commented to our lovely tour guide I hoped they (all Brits) realized how blessed they were to live in such a lovely environment…gardens everywhere, whimsical cottages, rolling, fertile countryside dotted with lambs and hedgerows, and on and on. You can hardly swing a cat (!) and not hit an historical or literary spot of import and interest. I know they, too, have their slums and industrial blight but even what I saw of that was somehow brightened by a patch of garden or a tea shop slipped in a wee corner. Thank you so much for sharing so much of your valuable time there including us in the joy! I’m off to explore the link to more pictures. Anon!

  39. Rebecca L. says:

    Loved absolutely everything about that home. Thank you very, very much!

    I want to see inside that cute pink house. When I visited England I wanted to tour peoples homes, wanted to walk up to the door and knock, but was afraid someone would call the police. 🙂

  40. cj says:

    Isn’t Charleston perfect! To imagine Forster, Virginia and Vanessa, Leonard, Lytton, all sitting around talking in that dining room, well, I wish we all could have been there. Thanks for the beautiful blog.

  41. Susan,

    Love this post. I have the book Bohemian Style and these rooms are featured in it as some of the first example of the bohemian look. I would love to paint every inch of my home. I have a few pieces and wall done, but so much more to go!

    Thanks for sharing this special part of your trip!


    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure that it was the doing of it over the years that added a lot to the specialness of it!

  42. Vicki b says:

    ah what a gorgeous post.. so interesting to see what local sights you have been to.. looks like your having an amazing time and cramming as much in as possible! I really need to get out more and see all these stunning places that are right on my doorstep! i havent even been to sissinghurst castle even though i drive through sissinghurst most days .. shame on me!! (hangs head) hope you and joe continue to have an amazing time while your here .. il pray that the weather brightens up for us all 🙂 xx vicki xx

    • sbranch says:

      You could have your choice of times to go, when there are less people around, too, or maybe during the holidays. You are so lucky to live here . . . but you see this beauty all day long, I can understand why you wouldn’t go into a place specifically for more! You probably make your own here in the “Garden of England!”

  43. Jack says:

    Wondering if you see any Artichoke plants during you garden treks …….they are a weed and quite prolific given the right environment ….liking misty mornings and warm afternoons best ….

    • sbranch says:

      I know they grow them here. They could certainly get the misty mornings, but the warm afternoons are still hard to come by!

    • Dawn from Minnesota says:

      Call me crazy Mr. Jack….I always thought they grew in the dessert/
      really hot climates!!! Haha….here in Minnesota they usually come frozen
      or in a jar!!!

      • Dawn from Minnesota says:

        WHOOPS!!!! DESERT !!!!!Right? 🙂

        • Jack - the other one says:

          Dawn ….. from Minnesota — Artichokes will grow in the desert – given the attention
          they need ….However the Artichoke growing capital of the world is directly adjacent to Sue`s place in California namely — Santa Maria . They prefer cool nights and warm days , sorta like grapes and people …..

  44. Jayne says:

    Loving the trip. I want some of Cath Kidston’s wallpaper to put on the back wall of some shelves in my bedroom. It’s only $240 a roll.

  45. Jack says:

    PS….do you how it comes by the name/ title” Charlston ?”

    • sbranch says:

      Noooo, very good question, no one asked it!! All the houses have names here, perhaps this one came with it!

  46. Holly says:

    I 2nd it — Wow, Wow, Wow… So much delightful, sensory inspiration, just from the photos. I’m ready to go paint right now! This is a trip to take my daughter (with a degree in Old English) on in real life! It’s going in my dream book right now! You know, the Bloomsbury Group and other’s who lived in the last period of time where there was silence, no radio, no tv, they made their own entertainment, their own beauty, their creativity had time to emerge. Much to be said for
    silence and a slower life.

  47. Dinahsoar says:

    Oh Susan–what a perfectly wonderful day! Can it get any better?…I loved it all but the tea room–oh my gosh…loved the charm and simplicity of it. The Emma cups, the Cath Kidson oilcloth…the flowers in the jug…the light and airiness ….who needs food? Just to sit there and take it in is enough. But of course I’d have the food…I could not resist, nor would I want to. Can’t wait to see what is around the next bend!…from the suitcase via the hills of TN.

  48. Jeanette says:

    Susan, This adventure is just too fabulous for words!!!! Oh my goodness, I’m drinking every little detail in, amazing. Thank you from the bitty bottom of my heart for bringing us along. Can’t wait for the next installment. Sweet dreams…xoox, Jeanette

  49. Linda P. Bakersfield, CA says:

    All I can say is WONDERFUL WONDERFUL.

  50. Michele says:

    Oh, Susan, Thank You!!!! I am just loving “our” trip :0)

  51. Doris Petersen says:

    Oh Susan, this post was such a treat! It gets my creative juices flowing just by seeing the pictures and hearing about it from you… I can imagine what you must have experienced by being there and seeing it all in person. Thank you so much for bringing us with you on this trip… and thank you Siobhan for telling you (& us) about Charleston Farmhouse and Bloomsbury Group! Loved it all!!!! xxx, 😀

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, thank you Siobhan!! And all of you for coming along and making it even more fun!

  52. Rosemary says:

    So, so fascinating. Did not know of the Bloomsbury Group. Will have to get onto that…the colorful art I loved…the eclectic furnishings. THE GARDEN…forget-me-nots by the ton. This is probably the most fun trip I have ever had. Talking to travel agent Tues. We are deciding how much to plan on our own and still use agent for some things. I think we may want to do too much. So far, I have loved everything you have done and seen and having such nice friends already there! Quite a treat! Thank you again, Susan Branch. THE Book will be so fun. We like to journal as we go so we can remember what we saw to go with the pics we take. Yours will be 100 times more interesting! Some watercolors involved?!

  53. Anne says:

    I wake up each morning now and so anticipate your blog seeing where you will take us today ! Your pictures are soo beautiful and it makes me want to venture over there too. This is soo special for me to see the countryside,the flowers, the
    countryside, everything !.
    Thank you for taking us along with you and Joe on your enchanting trip.
    It is just so lovely !!!

  54. Vickie in Olympia says:

    Oh THANK YOU so much for today’s tour! It’s a place I wouldn’t have thought to visit. You’ve opened a whole new world. The picture of Vanessa’s art studio had me wondering is this a painting or a photo. Then it dawned on me these people where living IN their paintings. A three dimensional life on canvas of their rooms. A whole new perspective for me!

  55. Lorie Hartsig says:

    I did it! I took some of my climbing roses and put them is a jam jar….placed that on top of a stack of books next to my reading chair. Now I have “the look”!

  56. Kate says:

    Now I know why I have always wanted to go to England. My heart sings while reading your posts and seeing all the beautiful places. Going there is at the top of my bucket list. To think there is such a wonderful place in this world.

    • sbranch says:

      You would be really surprised (as we are) to see that the beauty is around every corner, every bend in the road!

  57. Kimi says:

    Hey Susan

    I tell you the beautiful History you are showing here I love it! Just looking at all the art and the history about Virginia Woolf and her artist sister Vanessa her paintings are lovely. Susan its just amazes me that everything was left in place like a time capsule I loving the history here, and looking at the flowers along the house I could never be tired of them! Sue you said “If you can dream it you can make it so” I try everyday to do just that! and live it… xo Thanks for the tour!

  58. Mary S. says:

    OMGoodness!! I am overwhelmed! What gorgeous places you are visiting!
    Viginia and her sister were so beautiful – look at their eyes!! And I adore what they did to the house, and the paintings….!!!
    Joe and Siobhan both look great! I love Joe’s hat, and Siobhan’s stockings and shoes, in particular!
    We ARE having more fun!!! THANK YOU!!
    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

  59. Cyndi in NC says:

    Bless Eleanor Farwellfor her darling sheep and you for bringing us along. I feel right at home, like I should be coming out of any of the houses or the tea room. If I were to start a business it probably would be a bakery or a tea room. Your sandwich sounded yummy, I don’t blame you for not taking a picture of it. *L* The first order of business at the time was to devour that sandwich!! Siobhan looks like a real sweetie and I love her coat or is it a dress? In any case I love it. Enjoy!

  60. Laura says:

    Omg Susan….I hope that you will include recipes in your England Diary book! The fresh haddock with the creamed leeks and chives with the Parmesan crusted potatoes and a toasted Brie, pesto and tomato sandwich…delicious, deliciousness!!! You always make me hungry:)

    P.s..”Sheep on the Loose”…..LOL. Xoxoxoxoyou sweetheart youxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

    • Laura says:

      P.s…Virginia and Vanessa look kind of sad in their pictures….beautiful, but sad

      • sbranch says:

        They both suffered from depression (no vitamin D in those days, no help for depression) and if you remember, Virginia loaded her pockets with stones, walked into a river, and sadly, committed suicide. There was never a dull moment with these people.

      • sbranch says:

        They both suffered from depression (no vitamin B in those days) and if you remember, Virginia loaded her pockets with stones, walked into a river, and sadly, committed suicide. There was never a dull moment with these people.

    • sbranch says:


      • Laura says:

        I followed the link you gave and read that they were also both sexually abused as children….how awful for them. Hopefully this home and being surrounded by friends helped a little. Love heals.

        • sbranch says:

          I didn’t realize that. So very sad and unfair. Children! They certainly loved one another, lucky sisters to have such a close relationship.

          • Laura says:

            I was just remembering a very beautiful film about Virgia Woolf called “The Hours”…..I think we may watch it again this weekend.

          • sbranch says:

            I was looking at that too. With fresh (er) eyes. The way V. loaded her pockets with stones and walked into the water to commit suicide! How terrible …

  61. Lisa says:

    This is so awesome! The entire trip looks like so much fun! Jealous!!

  62. Georgie says:

    Susan, you have outdone yourself with blogging about yesterday’s wonderful adventure, stepping through the looking glass into the years of yesterday! My eyes didn’t know where to look first. I felt like a sponge, soaking up all of the sights, sounds and tastes! Boy was that cake scrumptious… Now I am on a mission to find Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade. That sounds like a perfect “sit by the summer herb garden” beverage.

    Oh! And I found Blackboard Garden Labels, a Seed Pot Maker and Garden String Holder… Did you see the Queen Mary Lounge Fabric designed by Duncan???

    What a wonderful time! Thank-You! We Girlfriends are loving this trip! I will do my homework tonight!

    • sbranch says:

      I saw it! Isn’t it wonderful, I was going to put that up, and sort of ran out of “space!” Maybe I will next time!

  63. Lynn McMahon says:

    Good Afternoon~
    What a post!
    So many beautiful things to look at my brain is almost on overload!!
    The flowers~(were those Forget~Me~ Nots)~ too pretty for words~ The rose lemonade~looks delicious~ out in the garden~ save me a spot!
    The still life painting of the flowers~ gorgeous~
    Thank you for sharing with us~ I am having a wonderful time! I am off to snip some of my Yellow roses & Lilies of the Valley~which I cannot believe are in bloom here in sunny Wisconsin!

  64. Kathy in San Diego says:

    Love every single detail and picture from today’s posting! Did you say you are up for hire to come and decorate my home here in southern California when you return?!! How I wish…. :). Thank you again for all you do each and every day to bring joy to our hearts! Joe is a lucky man…
    Have fun!

  65. CarolK (central NJ) says:

    You are my special angel, sent from up above. lalalalalala I just finished reading an autobiography about V. Wolff and family and by your visiting Charleston and showing us those fantastic pictures ~ well that put a special spin on the story. What a colorful life those people lived waaay back then. Just can’t wait to see Sissinghurst because Vita Sackville-West is on my ‘must read about’ list. I’m so thrilled you’re taking us on this trip words cannot express how happy that makes me. Fuzzy hugs to you and Joe

  66. Hollace says:

    Thank you for taking us with you on your vacation! It may not be as ‘carefree’ to have us as tag-alongs, but seeing everything and learning about what you know we would love is a great treat. You are generous with your time.
    I can’t understand why they don’t allow photos in the house. Even the National Gallery of Art does. They say the problem with picture taking in the old days was the blue bulb flashes, but now with the kind of cameras we have there is no danger to the art work. Anyway, I’m glad you posted the internet pictures or we would have died of curiousity. I’m already thinking about how to start painting my walls…

    • sbranch says:

      I think it’s because it’s so small in the rooms, and intimate, and the woman speaking wouldn’t like to hear the click of the cameras — because you’re right, everywhere else (so far) has let us … as long as we don’t use a flash.

  67. Paula B. says:

    Loved the tour today and the tea room, oh, and the pub you visited. I remember Shandy from visiting in Ireland (and needing something to drink). Dare I say that this group of turn of the century artists seems to have been “copied” by a current commercial venture, MacKenzie Childs? You are certainly packing a lot into each day, thanks for taking us along. To stay in the swing of things I rewatched part of Downton today and then a BBC documentary on a seventeenth century home!

  68. Brenda says:

    Swoon! I want to be there in person. How wonderful that Joe will join you in gift shops and tea rooms. My hubs prefers to find a seat outside and wait. Having the best time following on your coat tails.

  69. Marie says:

    Susan, and Anglophile Girlfriends, I just finished reading “Messenger of Truth,” by Jacqueline Winspear. You won’t believe this, but one of the towns mentioned in the book is Tenterden, and one of the homes described belongs to a family of artists who painted and stenciled all their interior rooms. I’m sure the author had today’s house in mind, no doubt from a personal visit. “Small world,” I’d say. I need to point out that this is Book 4 in a series about a young woman who is a private investigator in the 1920s and 1930s, set mostly in London and Kent. Book 1 is “Maisie Dobbs.”
    Marie in Valencia, CA

  70. Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

    Goodness, goodness, goodness, how I’m enjoying this!! I’ve completed my homework assignment–my Mother’s Day bouquet had some daisies and pink carnations in it, so I pulled them out of the vase, trimmed the stems, substituted them for English meadow flowers, popped them into my sweet Emma zinnia mug, (which substitutes for a jug) and sat in on top of a stack of six of your books–perfect!

  71. Peggy Cooper from Pueblo, CO says:

    Delightful! That’s the word that comes to mind as I read these posts and puruse the pictures. Love Siobhan’s outfit, and Joe’s as well. So very British. Definitely adding this to my list of dream places to go.

  72. Billie K says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Both girls look a lot like Ricky Nelson’s daughter Tracy. Hmmmmm…..wonder if they were related.

    • Dawn says:

      Wow! I am so glad someone else has noticed the resemblance to Tracy Nelson! I really can’t believe how much Tracy looks like Virginia Woolf—I’ve always though so. If Tracy Nelson wants to know what she will look like when she’s older, all she has to do is look at a picture of V. Woolf in her later years! The resemblance is astounding, I think.

  73. Karen P - Wisconsin says:

    Just had to tell you that as I was opening your webpage to check on today’s adventure a hummingbird stopped mid-flight and hovered in front of my face on his way to my window feeder when he heard your bird chirping! Soooo cute!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s pretty darn wonderful!

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      Lucky you Karen!
      You must live in the “right” place in Wisconsin!
      I’m in the SE part and rarely see even one~ I do what they (experts) tell me to to no avail!

      • Karen P - Wisconsin says:

        They come every year….sometimes I see them early, even before I have time to put out the feeders! I have one right here on my window above my computer desk and have gotten some very “up-close-and-personal” pictures! Sometimes the orioles come to the feeders and suck them dry! Silly things!

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          Thanks Karen!
          I will put them out tomorrow! My friends parents live about 3 hrs north of me ( Mauston) & he said he had 9 feeders full!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Lynn, you have to get the feeders out early in the season as they kind of establish places of habitat when they first come through in the spring… We’re in south-central Minnesota and we get them. The worst thing is that the feeders attract wasps…

  74. Dawn from Minnesota says:

    “Oh my” Susan !!! I hold my inspiration cup up to you everday and it is filling up
    ever-so-fast!!! You are opening up a whole new world to me! My “England”
    kind of consists of…Beatrix Potter, the Beatles, Paddingtion Bear, Tea Parties,
    Hayley Mills, Laura Ashley, “Werewolves of London”, Big Ben, London Bridge, Historic Castles& Beautiful countrysides…. I am humbled at the beauty and history of England….our world !!! I cannot seem to say it enough, “thank YOU!”
    Excited to read all the links you have shared and the homework assignment
    to do!!! Oh to be a member of the Bloomsbury Group!!!! Sounds so romantical…
    kinda like Gertrude Stein in ” Midnight in Paris”. But…’s Susan Branch…
    and “her world”…and it is more beautiful because is happening right now at this
    very minute!!! Feeling Ever-So Blessed!!! ENjoY!!! XoXDawn

    • sbranch says:

      We here are our own private Bloomsbury! Really, in a way, we are!

      • Dawn from Minnesota says:

        The thought of that feels absolutely wonderful !!!! 🙂

        • Silvia Niomi says:

          Hi Dawn from Minnesota,
          hope your legs are feeling better now that you are out of that suitcase and are using them on land 🙂

      • Silvia Niomi says:

        I had that thought too…. of this somehow being a Bloomsbury Group of sorts. Sorry to hear about Virginia.

        • sbranch says:

          In history, there have been several Bloomsbury-type groups I’ve read about and wished I could be a part of . . . they’re harder to do these days, but why not on line!? I think it can work — all we have to do now is come up with some pithy words of wisdom and we’re there! That will be the easy part with these girls!

          • Dawn from Minnesota says:

            ….Wish NO More !!!! Ummm…..”My grapefruit
            was so full of pith this morning ?! ” I’m sorry…
            I couldn’t resist ! 😉 I just love all of this so
            very much and the unexplainable connection
            those of us feel ….it is quite amazing to me!!! Everybody “cheers” everybody on and we Laugh
            Learn, and Live our lives scattered all over this
            world…Apart but Always Together!!! And it all begins & ends with “YOU” …Susan Branch !!!!!
            YOU are on to something Wonderful !!!!
            XoXDawn :.}

          • sbranch says:

            Yes and that would be YOU.

    • TerrieInAtlanta says:

      Remember, Anne Morrow Lindbergh was part of a “Bloomsbury” group here in the U.S.A. – when her family briefly lived in Michigan, I believe. I can’t quite remember the who / where details, but maybe some of our Michigan girlfriends or fellow English teachers might recall a bit more.

  75. Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

    Susan~just what I needed to see on a cloudy afternoon in Williamsburg. I love the paintings…especially “Spring.” English charm…LOVE IT!

    Joe, you sport that beret so handsomely!

    Continue to enjoy yourselves!

    Marie xo

  76. jeanne hedin says:

    Enchanting and so very interesting. Thank you for taking time to share, explain and include all of us. As you can tell, we are loving it!

  77. Sandi says:

    Susan, Thank you! Wonderful photos and as always your charming way of writing is a delight. A real treat for me who is stick in the Phoenix, AZ heat!


    • sbranch says:

      I’ll blow a cool breeze of misty morning English air your way . . . xo

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Blow some our way, too, as we have predicted 90 degrees here today in Minnesota! I’m wilted, already, and it is just noon! 🙁

  78. Chrissy Thrower says:

    You very lucky lucky girl! Everything everyone has already posted so beautifully and more!
    And lucky us to be able to traipse along with you and the new age Bloomsbury group! Oh, the pictures we have not yet seen! It’s just incredible how much we are learning on this ever romantic journey through England! Get some rest… We’ll be buckled in when you are ready! Send over the rose lemonade if you please, Miss!

  79. Karen (Providence, RI) says:

    Thank you so much for taking us to Charleston! I’ve always been fascinated by
    Vanessa, more so than Virginia. Was sorry to read in the NY Times that Angelica Bell Garnett has just passed away at the age of 93.

    • sbranch says:

      That was sad — and I didn’t get to write about how much the generations have added to the artistic legend of the place!

  80. I love sipping a cup of tea and reading your blog. And the pics are great. Thanks.

    P.S. Where to get the oilcloth?????

  81. Hello Susan…..looks like you are having a lovely trip so far and seeing so many lovely places and I want to say THANKS for sharing this with all of us. I can speak about the Chestnut Tree (Chinese not Horse)… may seem like a neat tree but here are the drawbacks (we have one in our back yard at the farm)….#1 the smell of the bloom so pungent almost sickening…..#2 the outside pod very prickly…..#3 when the pods fall to the grown in the 100’s after they have opened they have to be raked (not easy) because when they dry you can’t walk in the area where they are very painful if you step on one!!! The nuts are similar to the one shown in this blog, and there is a way to prepare them and roast; but, we just left them outside for the squirrels to store for the Winter (can you imagine what a treat/feast they are for them)…..if you don’t slit them open and soak before roasting they become hard as bullets. Just wanted to say hello and share with everyone; think long and hard before planting a Chinese Chestnut in your yards it is alot of work to dispose of the prickly pods. The leaves are quite shiny and lovely though. Enjoy each precious day!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I think you are right about that tree! The ones we’ve been seeing are all in someone else’s yard 🙂 … or along the roadsides. I was given that name Horse-chestnut in one of the gardens we visited. Is this a different tree than the Chinese or just the common name? Thanks Deborah!

      • Susan, I decided to research the difference between Horse/Chinese Chestnut and there is a big difference. The Horse Chestnut is an American Tree and the nut is inedible and they compared it to a Buckeye. We all know that the Chinese Chestnut can be eaten and mainly used in stuffings and of course roasted. There is our lesson for the day. If anyone does have one in their yards (sigh) we found an easier way to rake them without ripping all your grass up…..we lay out a tarp and rake those “pesky prickly pods” (sorry for showing my disdain/disgust) onto it and then carry them off to an area in the woods. I apologize to all the critters who happen to trek across them, and they take forever to rot if ever!!!! I will say one postive because after reading this I feel a need to at least try since I have one….it has lovely leaves and provides wonderful shade.
        At least until they fall and have to be raked!!! UGH I’m headed to therapy.

        • sbranch says:

          Thank you Deborah! :-)!

        • Dawn from Minnesota says:

          “UFFda!!!” 🙂

          • Hi Dawn, I was wondering where you have been haven’t heard much from you since we were cramped in that suitcase on the ship?? I hope you spend your time wisely and get all the walking in that you can….I must have a connection with MN because I keep running into you “UFFDA” gals!!! My good fortune…have a great weekend!

          • Dawn from Minnesota says:

            Hi Deborah! I am here 🙂 !!! I just read that
            your daughter will be studying abroad soon….my daughter just came home from Rome!! Jan.-May
            It was like you said, “A trip of a lifetime!!!”
            As for money…..we set up a seperate bank
            account/ATM ….we could funnel money into
            it for her and if by chance it got stolen or lost
            nobody would have access to All of our money
            in the entire account. It worked well for her.
            She notified the bank when she would be
            traveling to a different country…so they didn’t
            think the card was stolen. Your bank will let
            you know their procedures and suggestions too.
            And……I was nervous too!!!! And so excited!!!!!
            Saying “Goodbye” is the hardest part but know
            that you can “SKYPE!” 🙂 If you are
            interested, she did a blog of her trip….
            It’s called… la bella vita….and if you start with
            January….you will see…her nervous-to-happy-to
            it’s already time to go home?
            It’s ALL GOOD…..traveling,traveling,traveling…
            Let me know how it goes !!! And I will be
            thinking of you!!!!!! Hang in There kiddo!!!

          • Thanks Dawn, we were leaning toward using our bank and Angela already has a card from them that she can use as a debit card. Did your daughter have any problems with a restaurant or shoppe only wanting cash and not accepting her card?? She has heard so many suggestions I just want it to be uneventful for her. I would think having a debit card which is actually cash would be the right card. Angela has a blog already in place and everytime she updates we get a notice. Once she gets started I will send you her link and you can go on it from time to time to see what she is up to. I will go on your daughters blog later I’m headed to Church soon. Angela is coming to visit and say “good bye” tomorrow and we are going to get everything done from this end. I’m excited for her and I’m going into the suitcase when I get these “Mama Blues”….my little birdie flew the nest years ago…she has always been the most independent, self assured young lady and for that I am so happy. I want to give you her website so you can hear her wonderful voice…she is studying Opera and that is her dream to someday work for an Opera House in Europe. Her website is: I hope you can see this, and she would be mortified that I am bragging online?? Let me know if you could hear her Arias….I’m her biggest fan!!!!

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      Don’t they stain (things like hands!) too?

      • Hello Lynn, I believe you are thinking of Black Walnuts? Now, when my Dad was a toddler (he will be 92 on June 30th), my Grandmother used that stain on his blond curls, can you imagine that?? Chestnuts are very pretty, they are brown, shiny, and large. I just could never understand why something so wonderful is protected by this prickly vile pod! When it is time for the nuts to fall to the ground the pod opens flat and eventually falls to the ground and the FUN (NOT) begins……Oh no here I go again….nice chatting!!!!

        • Dawn from Minnesota says:

          Hi Deborah….Just listened to an Angel!!!! VISA or cash works best, may need a 5 digit pin (not starting with 0 or 1, I believe)…as there machines don’t use a 4 digit pin. Have the international phone # for your bank handy for her. Italy may have been different though.
          Good Luck, God Bless, and you Should be very Proud!!!
          “You did Good, Mom !!!!!!” (thanks Susan 🙂 )

          • Thanks Dawn for all the helpful suggestions; I just spoke to her about this and she said there isn’t anyway around the conversion fees because she will need Euros which the ATM’S will give. I know she will figure it out. I wish I could take credit for her gift; but, it is just that a Gift from God.

        • TerrieInAtlanta says:

          An “angel,” indeed! Your darling daughter is both beautiful and talented, Deborah ~ thank you for that little side note. Hope you have plans to visit while she’s in Italia? The “Girlfriends” are ready to hop in your suitcase!

          • Hello Terrie….Thank you and so happy you went to Angela’s website (she went on last night and reloaded some of her videos so they sound better now…I was amazed to see where her Arias on YouTube are being viewed with lovely comments. Angela will be studying Opera in Austria, and then making two side trips to Munich, Germany and Paris….she is so excited so I am for her!!! I will be staying home and reading her adventures on her Blog and Skypeing when she has time (I sent my “trip” money with her)…..nice chatting.

  82. Linda says:

    This has been an interesting journey so far….not exactly how I had planned on seeing Jolly Olde England but a pinch this will do. You do know that you are probably one of the only women on the planet blessed with a husband that would do this and actually enjoy it? Rare indeed……. As a Realtor, I would love to know the price of the pink house……or country cottages in general. The sign caught my eye before the printed page caught up so was happy you mentioned it……any idea as to home prices there? Well, thank you so much for this wonderful adventure and I will stay tuned for the future installments of SB and adoring hubby!!!

    • sbranch says:

      One really good place to check that out are in issues of British Country Living Magazine. They always have a page of house photos with prices. (The magazine is wonderful anyway!!) It really depends so much on where you want to be. I’ll try to take a photo of the real estate office window here on the High Street.

  83. OH goodness! So much eye candy and the way you’ve written about it is fabulous! The house seems to be so **happy**; love the cheerful colors, fabrics, etc. in it as well as the Emma cups and Cath Kidson oilcloth. I have one of her books, with fabric cover, and adore going through it again and again. I’m not sure if I want my next trip to England to be in summer or autumn…there’s a lot to be said for harvest and fetes.
    Decisions, decisions. You’re doing a great job, Susan, as a travel writer; well done!

  84. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan..such a lovely tour today….i, like you, researched Virginia,Vanessa and the Bloomsbury Group so that I would know what you were showing us…not disappointed….thinking about all of these going-ons during that time period..can’t you just imagine the talk about town?!?! They were very pretty women and talented..liked their paintings very love love Siobhan’s plaid outfit, tights and shoes….so good-looking…and joe too..very man-of-the English manor looking….off to find the flowers…..nice touch!!! love, cindy

    • Cindy Maulin says:

      p.s. that polka-dot Emma mug is just like mine!!! mine says “GRANNY” love it!! tea anyone?? xo

    • sbranch says:

      I thought the same thing, the talk about town. But they were invited to do their work on the local church too! So I don’t know??? We went to the church, beautiful, will show photos soon.

  85. Pam G. says:

    WOW that’s all I can say…almost. I never knew a thing about V. Wolfe’s sis but of course heard of the Bloomsbury group but now I have to research it too. What aan enthralling home-those people were at least 100 years ahead of their time. Thank you thank you Susan for the tour.

  86. Kathy Seeman says:

    Hi Susan-

    I just received an email from a friend that showed that Christopher Robin’s house is for sale in England….Loving the beautiful tour..thank you so much!!!


  87. Lisa G. says:

    I’m drooling at your experiences. Wow.

    Thanks for sharing so generously.

  88. Karen C says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are like a big sis to all of us, so happy you took us along with you on your adventure. Can’t do the homework assignment til tomorrow, it’s too dark outside right now, hope a tall iced tea glass will be okay to hold the flowers. The books are already stacked and waiting! Hope the 18th is wonderful day for you and Joe. It is, and will always be my favorite day, since it’s my birthday! Yeah for me, 🙂 I have to work, but I am glad that I still have a job. I will eat a piece of cake for you and all of you girlfriends out there. Happy Friday!!!

  89. I’ve read some of the volumes of Virginia Woolf’s letters. They are wonderful. She had quite a life. I’m enjoying our trip to England so much. Thank you!

  90. Paulie says:

    OMGosh……..everyone said it all………ditto ditto ditto…………..I LOOOOVE IT ALL……PICTURES ARE BREATHTAKING, LOVE THE HOUSE, LOVE THE FLOWERS AND THE PAINTINGS, EVERYTHING. It is all so breathtaking. With so many greens and so many flowers, the air must have a wonderful aroma…..what a day this has been ………thank you Susan, thank you.

  91. kathleen dohack says:

    Iam just loving this trip with you, I have always wanted to visit England but haven’t had the opportunity. Thank you ever so much.

  92. Bonnie L says:

    Just absolutely wonderful!!!
    I should have been taking notes….so will be anxious for the book 🙂
    Find myself so unsure when decorating or even purchasing gifts, just need to do it because it comes from my heart, yes! This is so inspiring……thank you for taking us along.
    Note to Brenda: we own a Betty Boop tea pot because my husband agreed to go to lunch in a tea room with his friend and me…..a funny story really, but won’t go into it here….so anyway tea rooms haven’t been on his list of things to do since then! But he does like tea, which we are enjoying as I write this.

  93. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Your pictures of your day are beautiful and inspiring!!! I couldn’t breathe….so breathtaking…..all at once!!! So many details for one time….these will be a keeper to view again and again with my humble cup of tea!!! (And my daily dose of dark chocolate on the side!) You must wake up every morning “excited” to explore this lovely land of England!!!!! (I love the powder blue tables in the Tea Room!!!!!!) What are the orange flowers on the table? So pretty!!!! Thank you for your blogging your travels……it is truly a treasure — truly appreciated!!!!!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      You are so right, it’s still last night I think for you, but here, it’s just after 5 am, getting light through the trees outside the window … and I’m thinking “What adventure for today?”

  94. Colleen says:

    Major O M G … all of my life I have wanted to go to Vita’s house ! Thank you SO much ~ Susan ~ for showing it.

  95. Colleen says:

    And Cath Kidston! I am going to faint over here in the states! And Susan, Siobahn jumper is to die for. Also Joe is SO cute in his beret. How ever do you sleep .. with So much to see and do.. It’s all So beautifull !!

    Thank you Thank you Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s not easy! I wake up, look out the window, that’s England out there!

    • Karen P - Wisconsin says:

      Colleen! You are too cute! Those are the EXACT things I was thinking as I looked at those pictures of Siobhan and Joe and Cath Kidston and Emma Bridgewater! It’s just all too much that we’re missing, isn’t it?!

  96. Colleen says:

    OMG .. and Siobahn’s stockings ! I SO love everything British ! Imagine so much artistic beauty ! I was born in the wrong country. Thank you a million for sharing ~

  97. Ginny Sargent - New England says:

    I love the house! It reminds me a bit about the couple who illustrated the first “The Little Train that Could” (which was one of my favorite books as a child. Their son married my husbands aunt. They had this darling home beside the sea in Scituate Massachusetts. The fire place has tiles that surround the opening are illustrations of Alice and Wonderland. There were lovely quilts, a hand made wooden Noah’s Arc, needlework galore and nooks and crannies everywhere! I fell in love with the home. We still get to visit (the house and the aunt) and inside you can just feel the presence of this talented couple and their darling home.

  98. Elizabeth in Montana says:

    Lovely post, I shared it with my mom, who like me has visited England five times. I’m reading the first volume of Virginia Woolf’s letters, brilliant and fascinating woman but rather a tragic life. SO enjoying your trip!

    • sbranch says:

      Depression in the family. We’re so lucky to have help with that these days.

      • TerrieInAtlanta says:

        Yes ~ so much sadness and tragedy that newcomers don’t know about. To share, or not to share? Perhaps it’s better to focus on the brightly colored paintings, the gardens, etc., than to talk about the clinical depression, long bouts in hospital, the sad and lonely life of her loyal husband, Leonard…and the stories behind Vita-Sackville West, husband Harold Nicolson and THAT marriage, including their two neglected sons, Benedict and Nigel. Nigel’s publication of the letters between his mum and Virginia Woolf (Morrow, 1985) gives a very clear, first-hand look into the people of Bloomsbury ~ and then some. (*SB: publication of this comment left to your own discretion!)

        • sbranch says:

          They definitely suffered from a lack of the kind of resources available to us today; understanding of mental health issues, how to raise children; and of course, they were the product of their own parents and that culture. I can’t say I understand their complicated relationships, each of the characters seemed to have their own reasons for the choices they made; certainly they were of their time; and clearly, real true love was in all of it. I think the women were very interested in defying rigid conventions; they were trying to break away from the generations that had lived under the yoke for so long. But there had to be a lot of joy too, for what they created that lives on. We met Vita and Harold’s grandchild Adam Nicolson when he came to Martha’s Vineyard … he still lives at Sissinghurst and is a vital part there, focusing his energy on his family, the gardens, and his life as an author. He seemed happy!

          Wouldn’t this be a fascinating discussion for a book group?

  99. Colleen says:

    In my excitement I made a major mistake ! I do know the difference between Vita’s Sissinghurst and Bloomsbury Charleston House, Iv’e been a fan and avid reader of this forever and a day.

    Again a million thank you’s and gratitude for sharing this splendid trip with us~amazing!

    When do you think we will be able to have the book? I know each one takes some time. Can’t help myself for asking, it’s going to be one of my all time favorites~ I just know it. : )

  100. This is really neat how everything seems to connect together. Ever since you mentioned Elizabeth and Her German Garden I’ve been reading her books and biography. She was connected by association to the Bloomsbury group in several ways. Her cousin was Katherine Mansfield, her children’s tutor was E.M. Forster, her second husband’s brother was Bertrand Russell, and they lived on the same block in London where the Bloomsbury group met. Elizabeth’s Swiss Chalet was often a meeting place for the literary people of her day, including H.G. Wells. And when she moved to Cannes she was near H.G. Wells again (they’d been lovers for 3 years after her first husband died and remained friends). Once Elizabeth moved to America because of the Nazi’s she was bereft of the intellectual company she’d become accustomed to. I think she lost the will to live (her journal entries seem to indicate) and succumbed to pneumonia less than 2 years later.

    • sbranch says:

      Everyone seems connected, it’s true, and one thing leads to another! Originally, it was Vita Sackville-West I found, which led me to England and that led to Virginia Woolfe, and so on and so forth! Then Elizabeth von Arnim, which led to EM Forester!

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