Charleston, a large, remarkable house in East Sussex, England, is reached by a winding farm track, the surrounding fields full of cows. Beyond the parking lot it sits, walls covered in clematis, hollyhocks growing to one side: tall, gangly sprays of pink and white leaning against the gray stone. I have visited it twice now, both times when the garden was blooming. Each visit has felt unexpectedly invigorating, offering not just a temporary step back in time via a series of quietly preserved rooms, but also the pleasure of a place that so strongly reflects the predilections, creations, and inventive verve of its former inhabitants.
When the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant first rented this space in 1916, it was a cold and rather ramshackle farmhouse with no electricity and an overgrown garden. What had initially been a rather ordinary home, described by Bell in a letter to the