Getting off the Ground

Portrait of Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)                       Above: Virginia Woolf, Wikipedia photoThis is a new website for living, journeys and experiences around Seaford and Sussex.

Above the posts is a shot of Telscombe, which runs at a tangent off the road between Newhaven to Kingston, just before Lewes. There's more to observe on this stretch of road than there is on many a longer one.

Amongst the places you can visit, one important one is Monk's House, once the home of Virginia Woolf, and now a museum - but not at all a deadly one. It is now run by the National Trust.

There's a splendid series of garden 'rooms' and at the bottom of these, a studio was built for Virginia to work in. 

You can see the fields beyond here where she, her husband Leonard, and friends and family used to walk during summer; and also, where Virginia took her life: afraid that she was going mad.

There is now a splendid book available called Virginia Woolf's Garden. This was written by Caroline Zoob, who lived with her husband, Jonathan, at Monk's House for over a decade. 

Zoob gives evocative glimpses of Virginia and Leonard Woolf's lives at Monk's House and the photography by Caroline Arber is enchanting. Interspersed are fragments of archival material, quotes and excerpts which flow together in an absorbing way.

On the way to Monk's House from Seaford, you pass through Newhaven, which lies at the mouth of the River Ouse, in the valley the river has cut through the South Downs.

Over the centuries the river has migrated between Newhaven and Seaford in response to the growth and decay of a shingle spit (shoal) at its mouth.

Seaford Head looking back to Newhaven.
VDuBourdieu©2010
As you drive off the bridge of the River Ouse, there is a strange-looking bird sculpture in the harbour.

You might consider a quick diversion off the the left as you curve around the edge of Newhaven. You can buy fresh fish - the fishing boats drop their cargo here - as you drive around the edge of town towards the exit for Rodmell.

That will also give you a chance to look at the sculpture properly. It sits on a buoy and bobs up and down with the tide. Unfortunately, I can't find the name of the sculptor. Please let me know if you find out.

Once you're on the Lewes Road properly, you pass Piddinghoe, where there is a small marina for sailing enthusiasts, and a surprising amount of rather attractive homes hidden away.

Newhaven harbour sculpture.
VDuBourdieu©2010
The next town along is Rodmell, where Monk's House is sited. After that, if you keep going towards Lewes, there are a number of villages, including the other side of Telscombe, and Southease. 

There are two fishing lakes, again on the right. This is a tranquil spot to pause for a while. And line fishing enthusiasts dig in whatever the weather, in my experience.

It is probably not a good idea to let the dogs out for a run - they might scare the fish, and you're likely to get scowls, if not worse, from the men and women who fish there regularly.

* A nearby museum, Charleston Farm, where Virginia's sister Vanessa lived in an artistic communal setting has, in my opinion, become a parody of what it stood for when they were still alive.

Here are two photos related to Monk's House.

Long path, Monk's House, Rodmell.
VDuBourdieu©2011

Marie Louise Bartholomew,
a volunteer at Monk's House.
Her father was gardener for
Virginia and Leonard Woolf.
VDuBourdieu©2011


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