‘A Room of One’s Own’ by Virginia Woolf.
“In 1919 the Woolf’s bough Monk’s House in the village of Rodmell. This was a small weather-boarded house (now owned by the National Trust) which they used principally for summer holidays until they were bombed out of their flat in Mecklenburgh Square, London in 1940 when it became their home.” (source)
I visited Monk’s House about 6 years ago whilst working on a photography shoot for Country Living Magazine. It is a sweet, low-ceiling little house with an amazing yet modest conservatory and very much felt like a peaceful retreat from city life. Now owned by the National Trust, it was being looked after at the time by the designer Caroline Zoob who kindly welcomed us that day.
We saw the annexe room that Virginia Woolf had built on the side of the original house (which had it’s own entrance and that she used as her bedroom and retreat, defining her own personal space within her home and marriage) which perhaps, alongside the writing lodge that she also commissioned at the end of the garden, contributed to the creation of her extended essay ‘A Room Of One’s Own’.
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” she famously wrote.
We are very proud to say that our ‘Virginia Woolf – A Room Of One’s Own’ cushion, remade from a penguin books cover tea towel, has been stocked in the shop at the prestigious National Portrait Gallery (Trafalgar Square, in the heart of London) to coincide with their major Virginia Woolf exhibition. Unfortunately, they have now completely sold out – as limited edition things tend to do.
When in the garden that day with my friend and colleague, I asked her what had made Virginia leave Monk’s House, as it was so peaceful and tranquil there. She told me that Virginia had filled her pockets with stones, walked down to the river at the end of this very garden and drowned herself. It was a chilling moment. And now, these few years later, that very friend of mine is no longer with me, tormented by the same demons.
Anyway, it is a beautiful location and worth a visit when the season begins again in the spring. If travelling from London then just the journey over the wonderfully undulant South Downs landscape is a welcome joy.