S1, Ep 12: Did Virginia pass this way?
Join Annabelle and Gillian for the last episode in Season 1, as they ramble across the South Downs in Sussex to the home of English authors Virginia and Leonard Woolf.
Gillian and I arrived in Lewes, Sussex - a beautiful village in the South Downs area - with one aim. We would walk from the Lewes train station to the village of Rodmell, and specifically to Monks House in the village of Rodmell, where Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard had lived.
I, having no prior knowledge of rambling and British public rights of way laws, was somewhat alarmed when Gillian set off through someone's wheat crop on the outskirts of Lewes. But after assuring me it was all legit, and that no-one would come at us with a pitchfork, I got right into walking through these beautiful farms in the south downs, an incredible privilege really, as we made our way to Monks House.
We had planned to walk to Virginia Woolf's sister's house, Charleston, near the village of Firle, but we had got a bit carried away at Monks House and time was not on our side. We ordered a taxi (the ladies in the shop at Monks House were very helpful) and beelined it straight to Charleston, the former home of Vanessa Bell, and Clive Bell, Duncan Grant and David Garnett, to get a glimpse of Bloomsbury HQ before it closed for the day.
May you learn from our mistake: book a tour if you want to see the house. Which I am sure you do. I peeked in desperately through the windows to catch a glimpse of the gorgeous interiors, but we missed out on actually going inside. And get there before 4pm, which is when the last house tour starts. Never mind, the gardens were gorgeous. And the following hour-and-a-half walk from Charleston to the village of Glynde (a one-stop train ride away from Lewes) in the late afternoon sunshine was spectacular.
Virginia's utterly moving handwritten suicide note here
If you haven't read Mrs Dalloway, check out Meg Mason's piece she wrote for the Dispatcher's Digest - it will bring you great comfort!
A map for walking from Lewes to the village of Rodmell, where Monks House is.
For other walking inspiration check out the National Trails website
Caroline Zoob used to live in Monks House and wrote a brilliant book about the garden