Charming Charleston - Hurstpierpoint College

Charming Charleston

Lower Sixth Art and Photography students entranced by house history

A group of Lower Sixth Art and Photography students were entranced by their visit to Charleston – not only by the beauty and eclectic tastes of the place but also the history and context of the influential and ground-breaking artists who lived and spent time there.

Associated with the Bloomsbury Group, and steeped in the history of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, Charleston is one of the most fascinating and charming places to visit in Sussex. “Stepping inside the house takes you back in time as if the artists had simply popped out and we quickly sneaked in to see how they lived in their creative world,” Richard Cuerden, Director of Art & Photography

Our students began the tour in the famous dining room, surrounded by 50 hand-painted plates gleaming through the cabinets. These plates were commissioned by Kenneth Clark in 1932 and they were painted by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Moving into the drawing room, the group were struck by the intricate hand-painted patterns on the wall and the fantastic use of clashing colour palettes that for some reason seemed to work. Moving from room to room they were guided expertly by their host through the downstairs rooms and intimate spaces such as the drawing room, Vanessa Bell’s bedroom and finally into the beautiful open plan studio. Everywhere we looked there were original paintings, murals and pottery – and underpinning all of this was the beauty of the gardens.

Richard Cuerden

Student feedback:

“I loved learning about the history of this fascinating group of artists and also being given an insight into the meaning and intention behind certain pieces of furniture” Georgie 

“I found it incredibly interesting to hear about the history behind each art work and I loved the continuity of space throughout the house and garden.” Jessica G

“The garden was sublime with an impressive range of plants inspired by the artist’s original paintings.” Estella J“Visiting Charleston brought home the importance of the Bloomsbury Group and the influence that these artists had on modern day British painting.” Liv T-W