House Crazy Sarah would be remiss if she didn’t do a feature on Monk’s House – Virginia Woof’s former English country home and gardens.
There’s something special in common about early twentieth century female writers: they had to have their bucolic county escapes – Beatrix Potter, Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Virginia Woolf was part of this club as well. Monk’s House is a 16th-century weatherboard cottage in the village of Rodmell, three miles south of Lewes, in East Sussex, England.
Virginia and her husband Leonard Woolf went here to escape the hustle and bustle of London life, and also to garden and to entertain friends.
The couple bought the house at auction on July 1st, 1919 for 700 pounds. Their frequent guests included literary folks connected to the Bloomsbury Group, including T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry, and Lytton Strachey.
Here is the street-side view of the home:
The National Trust now operates the building as a writer’s house museum.
During the Woolfs’ early years here, Monk’s House was smaller with three-quarters of an acre of gardens including an orchard and some outbuildings.
But throughout the duration of their ownership, the Woolf’s made many alterations and additions, including: improvements to the kitchen; the installation of an indoor bathroom; and a two-storey extension in 1929. In 1928 they purchased an adjoining field to preserve the beautiful views from the garden.
Have a look inside the main house…
Virginia said that with each of her published books, she was able to afford do fixes or renovations to her country home.
The historic home is furnished with period pieces and many of the Woolf’s own belongings.
Gorgeous exposed beams and original tile-brick floors. It’s so sweet and old-world charm-y; you can just tell that writers lived here!
The Woolfs spent an increasing amount of time at Monk’s House and eventually ended up living there full-time from 1940 on when their flat in Mecklenburgh Square, Bloomsbury, London, was damaged during a Second World War air raid.
Virginia wrote many of her best known novels while staying here such as: Mrs Dalloway (1925), To The Lighthouse (1927), Orlando (1928), The Waves (1931), The Years (1937) and Between The Acts (1941).
Unfortunately Virginia’s creative demons got the best of her and in true tragic writer fashion, she committed suicide by drowning herself in the nearby River Ouse in March of 1941.
Her husband Leonard continued to live at Monk’s House until his death in 1969.
After Leonard’s death the house was bequeathed to his close friend, the artist Trekkie Parsons, who subsequently sold it to the University of Sussex in 1972. It was eventually turned over to the National Trust in 1980, and was opened to the public as a museum and tribute to the literary couple.
The entire ground floor, including sitting room, dining room, kitchen and Virginia’s bedroom, is on display.
Have a look inside Virginia’s bedroom:
House Crazy Sarah loves how Virginia was married but had her own bedroom.
Look at all the beautiful books!
Notice the vintage sink and herringbone wood floors? Delightful!
There are hardly any photos of the kitchen at Monk’s house, but House Crazy Sarah did find a couple:
The kitchen door leading out to the marvelously lush garden…
Mind Your Head!
The Monk’s House gardens were – and still are – beautifully maintained.
Virginia loved the respite at Monk’s House from the tumult of London and the war. She claimed a small wooden cabin at the bottom of the garden to be her quiet writing cottage.
It still stands today and is set up just as Virginia left it.
Isn’t it splendid?
No need for electricity here. Just fresh air, open windows and pen and paper.
House Crazy Sarah can feel Virginia’s gentle ghost watching over this lovely place. 🙂