Art of the Downs
Start your day with a visit to the country home of Bloomsbury Group artists, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant at Charleston. Their evocative house is the last surviving example of a complete Bloomsbury-decorated interior with paintings, ceramics and textiles by Bell, Grant and other 20th century artists.
Wander the enchanting walled garden after your tour of Charleston house, then relax with a locally-sourced light lunch in the café or browse the Bloomsbury-inspired arts, crafts and gifts in the attractive shop. Pick up a free walking map in the shop and explore the surrounding area while you are here.
From Charleston, head towards Berwick Church of St Michael and All Angels, a site of both spiritual and creative inspiration surrounded by magnificent views of the South Downs. Using themselves, friends and locals as models, Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell controversially painted the church during World War II with murals illustrating the life of Christ. A circular trail from Charleston takes over 2 hours to walk. Cycling from Charleston, you can reach Berwick Church in 20 minutes.
As an alternative trail, or combine both if you have energy, visit Firle Place and Firle village where you can pause at the graves of Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Quentin Bell in the Church of Saint Peter. This circular trail takes over an hour to walk, or you can cycle to Firle in around 15 minutes.
|Distance||7 miles from Lewes railway station|
|Duration||All day, but can be done in stages or over a couple of days. The order of attractions visited can be changed to suit your mode of travel.|
|Directions – Train||Regular trains from Lewes to Glynde or Berwick railway station, both about 4 miles from Charleston. To walk from Glynde Station, pick up the directions at point 9, below.|
|Directions – Bus||125 bus from Lewes Bus Station Mon – Sat only. Ask the driver to let you know when to disembark. It’s then a 20 minute walk up a single track lane to Charleston.
The 125 bus is operated by Seaford & District Mon-Fri and by Cuckmere Buses on Sat with stops at Berwick and Firle.
|Directions – Walk||Charleston is 7 miles from Lewes or you can break your journey by taking the train to Glynde or the 125 bus to the track lane leading to Charleston.
|Directions – Cycle||
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Take the 125 bus, or continue your journey by foot or cycle, to the pretty village of Alfriston with its medieval timbered shops and public houses. Here you can visit the first property ever acquired by the National Trust at Clergy House.
EXTEND YOUR VISIT
Enjoy a concert, opera or recital at Gyndebourne. You can take the shuttle bus from Lewes provided by the event organisers.
Visit NT Monk’s House in the pretty village of Rodmell. Find more information on the Literary Heroes Trail.
- Cyclists & Walkers Welcome directory
- Stay Lewes
- Charleston Walks
- Berwick Church of St Michael & All Angels
- Firle Place
- NT Clergy House
- NT Monk’s House