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“Amazing art as a way of life”
Review of Charleston

Charleston
Ranked #2 of 41 things to do in Lewes
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Charleston was the home and country meeting place for the writers, painters and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury group. The interior was painted by the artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, and together with their collection forms a unique example of their decorative style.Charleston is open in 2014 from Wednesday 26 March - Sunday 2 November. During the winter months, the house museum is closed for its annual programme of conservation work.The house museum is open to the public Wednesdays - Sundays at these times:Wednesday - Saturday: 1pm - 6pm, last entry 5pm (12 noon - 6pm July - September). Entry is by timed guided tour in small groups.Sunday & Bank Holiday Mondays: 1pm - 5.30pm, last entry 4.30pm. Entry is timed but free-flow; visit the house at your own pace. (N.B. during the Charleston Festival, entry to the house on these days will be by guided tour only.)Charleston welcomes group bookings outside of its public opening hours, Wednesday - Saturday. Please see our website for more details.
Newcastle upon Tyne UK
Level Contributor
25 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Amazing art as a way of life”
Reviewed 10 May 2014

Whether you have an interest in the Bloomsbury set or not, to visit Vanessa Bell's house is an inspiration. The artwork is naive and evocative of a freedom of spirit. Tours inside the house last approx. one hour. The guide was very well informed and readily answered any questions; her love of and interest in both the house and its previous residents was palpable. (The entrance fee is a little costly but as this is a fully charity based concern understandable).
The staff in the gift shop were also helpful, however the stock was rather expensive with only a few articles priced to suit the less affluent visitor!
Being May the garden was not in full bloom but it was already showing promise of what is to come.
Mention must be made of the small restaurant, again not particularly cheap but the food was outstanding. Not being able to decide upon what to have my sister and I asked for two different items to share - this was no problem and was beautifully served - a home made soup and stilton and leek tartlets. A feast for the eyes as well as the taste-buds.
Would def. visit again: would like to see it in summer.
(Not really appropriate for young children)

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
Thank Catherine021
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CharlestonTrust, Assistant Visitor Manager at Charleston, responded to this review, 7 June 2014
Thank you for taking the time to review your recent visit to Charleston. I am very glad to hear you enjoyed your time here and I agree that the house is very inspirational. The garden is also looking increasingly beautiful, with vibrant colours and delicate scents wafting about, as it comes into full bloom.

We really appreciate your feedback about the guides, shop staff and café staff. Our front of house team work very hard to ensure visitors enjoy their time at Charleston and I am very glad to hear you experienced this.

I do hope you consider returning to Charleston soon to see the garden in all its glory.

Katharine Majer
Assistant Visitor Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Harlow, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
17 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Charleston”
Reviewed 5 May 2014 via mobile

Not worth the entrance fee. The garden was nice but only took a few minutes to see. Very overpriced and not worth visiting.

Helpful?
Thank SueCurtisEvans
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CharlestonTrust, Visitor Manager at Charleston, responded to this review, 7 May 2014
Not worth the entrance fee. The garden was nice but only took a few minutes to see. Very overpriced and not worth visiting.

Thank you for taking the time to review your recent visit to Charleston, although I am very sorry to see you don't feel we were worth visiting. As an independent charitable trust, we do not receive any government or public funding for our running costs - the entrance fees are, therefore, a vital way through which we can keep Charleston open to the public and help to preserve it for the future. We offer a two-tiered pricing structure too - ticket prices without a voluntary Gift Aid donation, or those with. The prices including the Gift Aid donation help us even more, as we can claim back 25% of the entire ticket price, not just the extra amount paid. We also want to accurately 'price' what we offer on a visit to Charleston - either an hour-long guided tour, Wednesdays to Saturdays, or the chance to wander the house at your leisure for as long as you like on a Sunday.
I hope that, when exploring the garden, you also took the time to visit the orchard and the area around the pond? We find many visitors enjoy just spending a peaceful time in the gardens - indeed, in the summer, they are a popular space for families to congregate and for friends to extend their enjoyment of their visit.
I hope you will consider visiting again in the future.
Clare Gauntlett, Visitor Manager
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Level Contributor
96 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Wonderful tour of house and garden but dreadful jobs worthies in shop and cafe”
Reviewed 29 April 2014 via mobile

We dropped in Charleston last Thursday morning knowing that the shop and cafe opened at 12 from when tickets could be bought for the house at 1. Although only 11.45 the shop had the 'open' sign up as there was a private coach party tour. However despite the fact that there were at least 2 staff and no one waiting to be served, Miss Jobsworth insisted that I wait until exactly 12 before selling me tickets.
The same applied in the cafe, and here we had the slowest, most expensive two slices of cheese on toast and cup of coffee ever! £18.50 and a wait of almost 25 minutes in an empty cafe, manned by two men and a girl for a snack which would take most of us 5-7 minutes to prepare!
Luckily the house visit with Lyn the guide was mind blowing! You could feel the presence of the famed residents in every room and Lyn's fantastic commentary and knowledge made for a wonderful hour

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Joofsh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CharlestonTrust, Visitor Manager at Charleston, responded to this review, 7 May 2014
Thank you for your review of your recent visit to Charleston. I am sorry to hear you did not have a wholly satisfactory visit.
We welcome private groups outside of our public opening hours and we can arrange for the shop to open early for them once their tours have concluded, as part of the group visit offer. Whilst we welcome other visitors coming in to the shop earlier, to browse or watch the introductory film, as we advertise that tickets are not available for sale until 12 noon when the shop opens to the public – something you have mentioned knowing about in your review - we do stick to this even if the shop has opened early for a group.
I am sorry that you did not enjoy your experience in our café. The café staff take great pride in the food they offer and are often praised by visitors for the quality of the food and service. It is a shame that this was not the case this time.
Finally, I am very pleased that you enjoyed the tour of the house. Our guides have a wealth of knowledge and passion for the house and its occupants, which really enhance a tour of Charleston.
I do hope you will visit us again soon. Our online ticket booking facility will hopefully soon be live and will help you be able to plan ahead for your visit.
Clare Gauntlett, Visitor Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Eastbourne, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
98 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“Second visit”
Reviewed 20 April 2014

Guides are very competent and learnt a little more. It is worth noting tours get booked quickly and maybe worth going the day (or two) before to book. The gardens are fabulous and a riot of colour. The café is ok if a little slow but hey what is the rush??? I will most certainly be going back for more visits!

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
Thank MMW72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CharlestonTrust, Visitor Manager at Charleston, responded to this review, 7 May 2014
Thank you for your lovely review of Charleston. I agree that the garden is beautiful and well worth a visit. I’m also pleased to read you learnt more about Charleston and the Bloomsbury group on this visit – it’s always great to go away knowing something new.
One thing to note, particularly for others who may read the above review: currently, we do not sell any advance tickets for the House and Gardens, visitors can only buy tickets onsite on the day of their visit. We hope to have online booking up and running soon but in the meantime we recommend coming early and booking onto a tour as soon as possible to ensure your visit runs smoothly. Tours run 1 - 5 pm until July and tickets can be bought from the shop from 12 noon.
I hope we welcome you back to Charleston very soon!
Clare Gauntlett, Visitor Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chicago Suburbs
Level Contributor
34 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Beyond Fabulous”
Reviewed 18 April 2014

Touring this important Bloomsbury home was a highpoint of our trip. We went a week after they had opened for the season and it was not overly crowded. The docents really know their stories and the hour long tour let us in most of the rooms in the house. It is not like a museum--but more like Vanness Bell and Duncan Grant have just stepped out for a moment and you are in their home. Original furnishings and of course all those lovely painted pieces. We had a delicious lunch in the cafe--welsh rarebit was divine and the crumpet with honey was bliss. The gift shop is well stocked--small gifts as well as more expensive. We had plenty of time to wander around the grounds and garden. A real treat.

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
Thank sellinglikecrazy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CharlestonTrust, Assistant Visitor Manager at Charleston, responded to this review, 24 April 2014
Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a review about your recent visit to Charleston. I am really pleased to see you enjoyed your time and felt it was a highlight of your trip.

The house really does feel like the occupants have just popped out for a moment and our guides do enhance this with their excellent knowledge of Charleston and the Bloomsbury group.

If you do visit us again, it may be worth coming on a Sunday when there is a free-flow system in place, allowing you to spend as much time in each room as you would like.

I will be sure to pass on your lovely comments to the Visitor Manager, guides, café and shop staff.

Katharine Majer, Assistant Visitor Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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