Intended primary for my Creative Inquiry on Woolf and Place (2012-2013)
and my capstone seminar on Virginia Woolf (Fall 2010),
this blog also contains an account of our Woolf trip in May 2012
as well as posts about flowers and gardens in the life and work of Virginia Woolf.

*Photo of Monk's House Garden taken from door of Woolf's bedroom*

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 5 -- Sussex: Monk’s and Charleston

Day 5—Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Woolf's Writing Studio
Got up fairly early to catch the train at Victoria for Lewes. Arrived around 10:30 and took two cabs down to the tiny hamlet of Rodmell, where we strolled down The Street to Monk’s House, admiring the wisteria.  Walked up the little lane to the church and church school and cut through the graveyard to peer over the walls into the back of the garden.  Thinks looking quite cleared out; someone was turning soil in the vegetable garden, lawn chairs were set up outside Virginia’s writing studio.  

We walked around to see the views of the downs, and met a couple of gardeners who took our pictures looking north toward Firle BeaconI noticed that the scarred area where the cement plant used to be on the site of the Woolf’s country home at Asham was beginning to heal in, turning green.

In an effort to be fully authentic, we set off on a path that led out from the back gate of the garden at Monk’s, which turned into a broad grassy set of tire tracks, but became increasingly more narrow.  We tromped through the water meadows, admiring the shaggy ponies across the road we should have taken, separated from us by a culvert too wide and deep to jump.  In true Virginia fashion, I tripped in a very large hole and fell down into the grasses, about 18 inches high—enough to give the girls a scare when I suddenly disappeared from sight. But the bog was both soft and relatively dry, so no harm done.  The things I am willing to do for verisimilitude.  Eventually we came to some narrow brick piers, which hop scotched us across another culvert to a locked gate leading back to the public footpath. Here we struck up a conversation with a rider on a horse, who advised us the climb the gate.. .which we all did, including me.  I hear there are photos….

Arriving at the bank leading up to the river Ouse, we found a group of environmental engineers, self defined as “river-men” who were replacing the old wooden fences and gates on the footpath that runs along the top of the bank.  The tide was nearly full out, so about fifteen feet of muddy, salt-smelling bank was exposed. The river-men were full of information, explaining that the cement works had been closed down and pointing out the new methane plant across the river which is producing a good deal of electrical power for the surrounding country.  When I remarked that I wished we were doing more such energy reclamation in the US, we were treated to a lecture of the methane recycling at the BMW plant at Spartenberg – have to come to UK to find out what is going out at home.

London Girls at the River Ouse

Monk's House Sitting Room
Walked back to Monk’s by the proper road – the whole circle was about 3 miles, we reckoned.  When we arrived we discovered that the old tenants, the Zoobs, had moved on and that the National Trust had taken over operations.  Monk’s is now open seven days a week (I think), and there are many beneficial changes, some made possible by more staff.  For one thing, you are now allowed to take photos throughout the whole property, not just in the garden.  There are also quite a few more pictures on the walls and some other artifacts that have been recovered; the box of bowls, an arrangement of British butterflies and moths rescued form the attic, and Virginia’s own set of Shakespeare’s works, rebounded and recovered by her.

The garden at Monk’s has also been thoroughly cleaned up—lots of brush has been cut away, so the view across the water meadows to Mr. Caburn is now clear, and the lawn around the dew pond where they used to play bowls has been mowed and one suspects rolled into a condition recalling Leonard’s careful grooming.  The garden was in early spring bloom: Wisteria and, early clematis covering walls and trees, purple tulips blown out by the recent rains, bluebells and forget-me-nots peeking out, apple trees blooming in the orchard.
Dew  Pond and Terrace Lawn at Monk's House

By 2:30 we were all starving, so went up to the Aberveganny  Arms where the girls had huge platters of fish and chips—the fresh fish speared a top a mountain of frech fries.  They samples the local beers, whicle I was appy with bangers and mash.

We called the cabs back and they took us over to Charleston (Taking the local buses would have saved money but takes SOOO long—several hours instead of ten minutes as they stop at practically every house—that we wouldn’t have been able to do both houses in one day)where we got our own private tour of the house.  The girls were enchanted by the house, every inch of which was painted by Duncan and Vanessa. We didn’t have enough time to really do the garden before the cabs were back to take us to the train stations.  Arrived home about 8:00 PM, tired but full of information and images.

No comments:

Post a Comment