Explore the country retreat of the novelist Virginia Woolf, where she wrote many of most celebrated novels. Leonard and Virginia's personalities saturate the house and it should feel as if they have just stepped out for a walk. You can explore the house at your own speed and there are always room guides on hand to help you to bring the house alive.
Leonard and Virginia Woolf bought Monk's House in 1919 as somewhere to write in the tranquility and beauty of the Sussex Downs, far from the constant interruptions of London. In the beginning, Virginia noted that there were "no buses, no water, no gas or electricity". Though the Woolfs improved the house over their 50 years here, its rustic simplicity and charm remains.
"This place has great charms" Virginia Woolf
Monk's House is filled with the Woolfs impressive art collection as well as personal items from their time here. The unique charcter of the house is saturated with the spirit of not only the Woolfs but of the Bloomsbury Group and the many artists, writers and thinkers who visited. The walls and furnishings are covered in artwork by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, added to later on by Trekkie Ritchie.
"Sunk below the level for the garden and dim and green like a fish pond" Angelica Garnett
In the sitting room, you can see the matching table and chairs which Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant painted for Virginia with her initials painted into the design. Stephen Tomlin's bust of Virginia Woolf sits on the windowsill - it took over 6 years and was never finished. You will also find Leonard's desk, covered with political letters. He was a writer, socialist and journalist. He was brought up in Reform Judaism, but became an atheist in his teens.
"A good dinner is of great importance to good talk" A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
Transfigured from a spare bedroom, the dining room displays the best known portrait of Virginia Woolf, painted by her sister Vanessa, as well as Trekkie Ritchie's sympathetic portrait of Leonard. The Woolfs' set of bowls can also be found here. Leonard was an extensive record keeper and, in 1940, had won 259 of their 335 games.
"The kitchen a success I think, but then I'm not a cook" Virginia Woolf
Though the Woolfs did not generally cook for themselves, Virginia did make jams and bread frequently. See if you can find the strange Glazebrook portraits and the cabinet Trekkie Richie painted whilst waiting for the potatoes to boil.
"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction" A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
As Virginia wrote her seminal feminist essay A Room of One's Own, she was having her own bedroom built at Monk's House. Her "room of one's own" has no indoor link to the rest of the house and is filled with artwork by her sister, Vanessa Bell, and neice, Angelica Garnett. The full collection of Shakespeare books that Virginia hand-covered still sit in the corner.
" There is little ceremony or precision at Monk's House. It is an unpretending house... a house of many doors"