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Group Visit Information

Photograph by Ëpha J. Roe

Charleston was the home and country meeting place for the writers, painters and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury group. The interior was painted by the artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, and together their collection forms a unique example of their decorative style. Situated in East Sussex, the house and gardens are open to the public from March to October each year. Group bookings are welcome outside of public opening hours, Wednesday – Saturday. We can also accommodate groups on Mondays and Tuesdays with an additional private opening fee. Groups of up to 50 people can be accommodated, depending on time and date availability. All private group visits are by guided tour, led by our experienced guides. We offer a choice of tours to share different aspects of Charleston’s unique and fascinating history. Additionally, services such as refreshments on arrival are available. Bespoke schedules can also be arranged including Lectures or Workshops. Our guided tours are consistently rated as excellent, and provide Groups with an especially stimulating and special experience by virtue of the private nature of our Group visit offering.

Tour Options The Charleston Tour An excellent introduction, the tour tells the story of Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and their family and friends, from their arrival at the house in 1916 to the foundation of the Charleston Trust in the 1980s.

Sisters Tour This tour examines the lives of the sisters, Vanessa Bell the painter, and Virginia Woolf the writer, who stood at the centre of the Bloomsbury group. The tour begins in the kitchen, not usually visited in our standard tour. Suitable for small groups of up to 20 Photograph by Ëpha J. Roe

A Day in the Life of Charleston From sunrise to sunset, explore the details of a working day at Charleston. This tour includes a visit to the kitchen where Grace Higgens – Charleston’s housekeeper – would begin her day. Suitable for small groups of up to 20

Centenary Tour This tour explores the arrival of Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and their unusual household at Charleston in 1916. In celebration of Charleston at 100, journey through the trials and triumphs of life at Charleston during World War 1. This tour includes the House Kitchen. Suitable for small groups of up to 20

Evening Tour We can offer the The Charleston Tour, followed by a glass of wine and nibbles in the Charleston shop.

Photograph by Ëpha J. Roe

Group Visit Availability Group Visits occur outside of our public opening times, 1 March – 29 October 2017. This provides an unparalleled opportunity to explore the House in a private capacity at a preferential rate. Please note that due to popularity of Group Visits your preferred date and time may not be available and we recommend you make your enquiry well in advance. We recommend you allocate around 2 hours for your visit to ensure you see all Charleston has to offer.

Wednesday – Saturday Morning Visits are available with Tours before noon (11:00am during July, August and September). If you choose refreshments, we recommend arrival 30 minutes prior to your tour. If you do not choose refreshments, arrival should be 15 minutes prior to your tour time. Evening Visits take place with arrival from 4:00pm depending on group size.

Monday and Tuesday Bespoke visits, subject to £250 private opening fee and availability.

Sunday No group visits.

Additional Options: Curator’s Talks (50 minutes plus questions) While our space for talks is limited until the completion of our Centenary Project, our Head of Curatorial Services, Dr. Darren Clarke, is pleased to offer lectures at your group’s meeting place in advance of your visit.

Photograph by Ëpha J. Roe

Unseen Charleston - The story of the Bloomsbury group at Charleston and how it became the iconic house that it is today

Bloomsbury and World War II - Life at Charleston in WW2 and the different activities that Bell and Grant were involved in

Virginia Woolf and Charleston - An exploration of Charleston and one of literature’s greatest modernists

Workshops Charleston works regularly with artists to put on a range of creative workshops. See our events programme for upcoming workshops at Charleston for a sense of the kind of workshops we run. It may be possible to book something similar for your group or school; please get in touch if you are interested in finding out more and we can liaise with our creative programming team.

About Your Visit When to arrive Please arrive promptly at your agreed arrival time to ensure you have enough time for your tour and to explore the site. If you need to get hold of Charleston on the day of your visit (i.e. if you will be late) please telephone 01323 811626.

Parking There is free onsite parking. Coach parking is available in the main car park, with a drop off point close to the House. Minibuses and cars can park in the main car park. Accessible parking is available for cars. Please contact us if there are any specific access requirements if travelling by coach.

Upon arrival The group leader will need to come to the Charleston office to meet the Visitor Manager or Assistant Visitor Manager, who will come onto the coach to give the group a quick overview of what their visit will entail and to direct them to the right place. We will ask your group to leave any large bags or rucksacks on the coach as we do not allow these into the House.

Accessibility Charleston is a rural site and visitors should be aware that the ground is often uneven. The ground floor of the house is fully accessible, but access to the first floor is via steep stairs with a handrail on the left side (13 steps). All other amenities are fully accessible with ramped access. Due to the domestic scale of the house we are able to accommodate wheelchairs with dimensions less than 115cm (L) X 65cm (W) / 45” (L) X 25” (W). In the garden there are adapted paths and viewing points made from bound earth with lime and gravel. The café, shop and toilet are fully accessible with ramped entrances. We offer a sympathetic hearing scheme. If you are bringing a guide dog to Charleston, please make sure they are wearing their jackets identifying them as such, as no other dogs will be allowed into the house, café, shop or walled garden under any circumstances. Visitor information is available in large print upon request for visitors with visual impairments.

Tour times and sizes Although we can accommodate groups of up to 50 people (subject to availability), the house tours have a maximum of 10 people per guide. If more than one tour is required they will start at the same time but from different points in the house. Please note: tour numbers must include all members of the group, including the tour leader. If you would like the coach driver to join the tour they must be included in the numbers provided to us prior to your visit and only if the numbers do not exceed 50 people. Once the tour is finished the group is free to explore the garden and shop at their own pace. For evening tours, your group is free to explore the garden before the tour. Photograph by Ëpha J. Roe

Refreshments and catering We can provide your group with light refreshments before your morning tour. All catering must be booked in advance. Refreshments can only be offered to the whole group, rather than to only a number of the group. Our refreshment options include: Tea, Coffee and Biscuits – up to 50 Tea, Coffee and Cake; Tea, Coffee and Pastries; Cream Tea – up to 30 If your group is visiting for an evening tour the price includes a glass of wine and nibbles. Refreshments will usually be served in part of the Outer Studio Café. Owing to the nature of Charleston’s spaces, seating is limited. If the weather is fine your group is welcome to take refreshments into the Folly Garden where there is also some seating, however for large groups please bear in mind seating may not be available for everyone. Our café does not provide any further catering for group visits. Please note that the café is very small and so is not able to accommodate large groups after their house tour. Whilst we cannot cater for group lunches, we are able to recommend local pubs that are happy to cater for groups visiting Charleston.

Shop Charleston’s shop stocks a delightful range of Bloomsbury-inspired books, cards, hand crafted ceramics, lamps, fabrics designed by Duncan Grant, and much more. We can organise for the Charleston shop to open early to allow your group to browse and buy following your tour.

If you require any more information please contact:

Group Rates 2016 Price per person

Minimum charge

The Charleston Tour 1 hour



Sisters Tour & Centenary Tour (up to 20 persons)

80 minutes



A Day in the Life of Charleston (up 20 persons)

70 minutes




Tour length

Evening Tour

1 hour tour, followed by wine and £17.00 £170.00 nibbles There is a group leader discount available for groups of 15 people or more. Please ask the Visitor Manager or Assistant Visitor Manager for more information.

Catering All catering must be booked in advance for the whole group

Price per person

Tea, Coffee and Biscuits (up to 50)


Tea, Coffee and Cake (up to 30)


Tea, Coffee and Pastries (up to 30)


Cream Tea (up to 30)


Additional Options

Time allowed

Flat Rate Charge

50 minutes



On request

Visiting Lecture by Curator Subject to availability, within 30 mile radius of Charleston; additional travel expenses will be required for visits further afield.

Creative Workshops Subject to availability; please enquire.

Booking a Group Visit To book a group visit to Charleston please complete the below form and send to: Post: Group Enquiries, Charleston, Firle, East Sussex BN8 6LL. Email: Phone: 01323 811 626

Our Booking Process is as follows: 1) Group leader sends in Group Visit Enquiry Form (at the end of this document). 2) Charleston confirms receipt of enquiry form, and provisional reservation of tours, services, date and time. 3) Charleston sends deposit invoice and group booking confirmation form. 4) Group leader arranges payment of deposit and return of confirmation form at least one month prior to visit date. 5) Group leader notifies Charleston of any changes in numbers two weeks prior to visit date, after which no changes can be made. Final numbers must include the group leader and coach driver if they intend to join the tour. 6) Charleston produces final balance invoice based on final numbers, payable up to and including the day of your visit.

Photograph by Ă‹pha J. Roe

Group Visit Enquiry Form Name of group Name of group leader(s) Telephone number(s) Mobile number that can be used on the day of your visit (if different from above)

Contact email address(es) Contact address(es)

Suggested date of visit Suggested time of visit Number in group (please give an estimate if final numbers are not yet known)

Tour option Refreshments

Tea, coffee, biscuits

(please circle)

Tea, coffee, cake Tea, coffee, pastries Cream Tea