Charleston Saved 1979–1989 tells the remarkable story of how the home of key members of the Bloomsbury set was brought back from ruin and lovingly restored to life.
When the painter Duncan Grant died in 1978, the house in East Sussex that he and Vanessa Bell had rented since the First World War was in a very sorry state. Amazingly, the original designs and decor the couple had created over the years were still in place – the wall surfaces, the furniture, the wood panels, the ceramics, the fabrics, the paintings and, of course, the garden – but damp, dirt and neglect had reduced all of these to a most wretched state. The nation risked losing a house of real historical, cultural and artistic significance.
This reissue tells how Deborah Gage, a determined young woman in her twenties, set about saving this house by galvanizing support, raising money and masterminding the project. With the help of many individuals and despite setbacks, the restoration was a success. This account discusses the work in detail, giving a fascinating insight into the restoration of an historic building and gardens.
Today, Charleston is open to the public – an extraordinary achievement, carried out with passion and conviction, and truly a fitting celebration of the lives of those who lived there.