Visiting the Woolf museum

Virginia Woolf’s house from the perspective of the traditional English cottage garden. The garden itself was mostly Leonard Woolf’s passion project and was known to host writers like T. S. Eliot. By Elizabeth Dean/The Miscellany News
Virginia Woolf’s house from the perspective of the traditional English cottage garden. The garden itself was mostly Leonard Woolf’s passion project and was known to host writers like T. S. Eliot. By Elizabeth Dean/The Miscellany News
Virginia Woolf’s house from the perspective of the traditional English cottage garden. The garden
itself was mostly Leonard Woolf’s passion project and was known to host writers like T. S. Eliot. By Elizabeth Dean/The Miscellany News

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.

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