This is what a room steward said to me in the sitting room of Monk’s House, the country home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf. She is completely right. The furniture is theirs, exactly as they had it. The letters on Leonard’s desk look about to be read. There is even a period newspaper in the bin. It is an incredible feat of keeping hold of their belongings and rescuing Leonard’s bequests from their subsequent disparate homes. I was standing in Virginia Woolf’s living room, just as she’d had it. It was extraordinary.
An enthusiastic National Trust volunteer took our tickets as we entered.
“You’ve come on a good day.” He said. “It’s Heritage Weekend so we’re having readings in the garden. They’re really good.” *Camp stage whisper.* “I do them!”
So of course we had to listen to a reading. He was right. He is really good. Enthusiastic too. When he broke into a rendition of ‘Anything Goes’ I couldn’t have been more delighted.
I see why the Woolfs loved it there. The house is set in the idyllic village of Rodmell. There is a spectacular view of the Downs beyond the ha-ha (which is a wall in a dip, so as not to interrupt a view, not just an exclamation of mirth). Their garden is an English country labyrinth of golden rod and unexpected ponds before opening into a small orchard and lawn. Virginia Woolf’s writing room is at the end of the garden: a room of her own with an inspiring vista.
The National Trust look after Monk’s House beautifully and all the room guides are extremely knowledgeable. I was consistently fascinated. As if there weren’t enough reasons to visit, books are only £2 in the gift shop.
Have you been to any writers’ homes? Where should I visit next? Comments below please!