Virginia Woolf’s house, also known as Monk’s House, is nestled south of London in Lewes–close enough to the southern coast for beachy air to breeze through town and for sandy white cliffs to be visible from the Woolf’s bowling green. This house was the Woolfs’ countryside escape from London, where they came to spend time with their intellectual circle and where Virginia in particular came to write.
The house that is available for touring feels relatively small since only the ground floor is open to visitors. However, the rooms are beautiful and well-curated. Lovely shelves of books decorate the sitting room, displaying historical and contemporary books that tie into Virginia Woolf’s literary style. Artifacts from the Bloomsbury Group’s press and Leonard Woolf’s critical career are displayed in the sitting room along with furniture and portraits that belonged to the Woolfs. A bust of Virginia Woolf sits in the living room window, casting a silhouette as if Virginia herself stood in the window.
The garden’s gorgeous stonework walls, lush beds and wildflower edges are a picturesque slice of south England cottage gardening. In one corner of the garden, a pair of plaques and busts mark where the Woolfs’ ashes are buried.
The best thing about the house is the way that visitors are allowed to enjoy it. Benches and lawn chairs in the garden and on the bowling green are open to visitors. Sitting in the lawn chairs on the bowling green, looking out toward the pale coastal cliffs in the warm spring sun, visitors can feel connected to the place that Virginia loved so much, to the beautiful natural world that inspired the literary revolutionary who lived and wrote there.