Monday, June 22, 2015

Two Day Trips Out of London

Even though it's a bit of a drive, a great day trip out of London is Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex, the country home of the Bloomsbury Group. If you go to lunch at a charming pub along the way, the drive doesn't seem so bad.

That is exactly what we did a couple of weeks ago when we stopped at The Rose Cottage Inn on our way to Charleston. This is a wonderful spot for lunch, with traditional pub food such as Ploughman's Lunch and fish and chips.

The ambiance is cozy, casual, and old English

We arrived at Charleston and were grateful we had made the drive. The house looked beautiful with  climbing roses and vines all in bloom covering the front facade. I could only imagine what the garden must look like. That would be later; first we would be having a tour of the house.

We were scheduled for a 2:00 pm tour and had arrived a bit early which gave us some time to explore the fabulous gift store. Years ago I purchased some fabric and made two Bloomsbury pillows for my library at home. They always remind me of Charleston. This time I was tempted by the lampshades. Isn't this one gorgeous? The gift store at Charleston has to be one of the best gift stores around.

We had a fabulous tour of the house and heard some new stories. (Photos of the inside are not allowed.) I loved picturing the members of the group gathered together in this cozy place for country weekends filled with work in the mornings, relaxation in the afternoons, and dinners and long conversations into the nights. My favorite new story was learning that Quentin Bell wrote his landmark biography of his aunt Virginia Woolf in his father's (Clive Bell) bedroom. I kept imagining what that must have been like. Surrounded by his father's things as well as the ghosts of the other members of the Bloomsbury Group, he must have found plenty of inspiration.

As you exit Duncan Grant's studio you arrive at the garden. This time we spent a lot of time there. Lush, loose, and beautiful, this is truly an English country garden. It was easy to picture the garden parties that were held out here. As well as the plein-air paintings that were done by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. You can imagine them setting up their canvases in this lovely environment and painting to their hearts' content.

We wandered through, walking along paths and admiring the flowers

The borders were beautiful

I loved the old stone wall with its climbing plants

And its sturdy garden gate

This is a great view of the back of the house through the garden; Duncan Grant's studio is on the right with all the windows.

 More paths bordered by country flowers 

This is a great walking garden; evening strolls in the summer would be lovely.

After completing our walk through the garden we got on the road back to London. It was a wonderful visit and a great day trip out of the city into the Sussex countryside.


Another fun day trip to take out of London is Richmond, about 30 minutes away, where you can visit Kew Gardens and Petersham Nurseries. Because of the rain we had to skip Kew that day, but we had a wonderful time at Petersham.You would be surprised at how much there is to do at this multi-faceted garden center!

Welcome to Petersham Nurseries

If you dream of having garden parties, everything you could possibly need is at Petersham. And unlike any other nursery I've been to, they have an award-winning restaurant with gourmet food and the prettiest ambiance I've ever seen. Not quite sure what I like best about Petersham -- their vast selection of plants, their indoor spaces with beautiful garden-themed decor for sale, or their glorious restaurant. Here is a look at all three.

There are many outdoor and indoor areas with plant material for sale --

I love these rustic wooden flower supports; you see them in gardens all over England and this is a great place to buy them!

It's fun to see what's available at Petersham's

This place is a treasure trove for gardeners

Roses on another wooden frame

So much inspiration here 

The beautiful seed room

Then there are the indoor spaces with everything you could want for garden decor --

Dream of hosting a garden party? You'll find everything you need here to create a magical outdoor setting.

And after a little shopping, you can have lunch at the glorious restaurant--

Dining under a canopy of flowers, trees and vines

The perfect setting for a summer meal

Surrounded by nature

With one beautiful vignette after another to gaze upon

If you are a garden-lover, don't miss Petersham Nurseries next time you are in London. It is filled with beauty and inspiration. Make a reservation for lunch and you will have the perfect afternoon out of the city.


  1. Sunday, This post is filled with spectacular eye candy! The gardens at Charleston are absolutely gorgeous.What a great trip!

  2. Two such beautiful places. I want my garden to be like the ones at Charleston! I love the rustic wooden flowers supports - have you ever seen them anywhere here? They add so much charm.

    1. Kathy, I agree about the beauty of Charleston. I know you can get those flower supports at Petersham. I would try their website. I've never seen them any other place.
      xx Sunday

  3. Having spent four days in London, my biggest regret was that we didn't venture afar.

  4. Your photos are glorious! What a wonderful visit. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  5. I learn so MUCH from YOU!I will contact you BEFORE I GO TO LONDON for CERTAIn as you can tell me where to go!I save your POSTS to READ so I do not have to rush through them..................
    IT all sounds MAGICAL.......can I ask do you drive yourself or hire a car?I do not think I can do it as far as the driving would be on the other side of the road!THat has SLOWED me down...........and to hire a car would get very costly I would imagine...............I have got to get to some of theses HOMES> MANORS>ESTATES!!

    1. I would be happy to help you plan your trip! You would love Charleston and so many of the historic homes in the English countryside.

  6. Sunday, thank you so much for sharing this. We are kindred spirits. I'm going to Charleston and Monk House on our UK holiday in I have a pub to go too!!! Your photos are a dream xx Anita

  7. Loved this post, particularly Charleston, which is my #1 destination out of town if and when I get to London--maybe 2016. In fact, I might spend the night in that area just so I can take my time and not miss a thing.

    1. Judy, that would be the best thing to do. Spending the night would eliminate all the driving as well as give you an opportunity to see other things in the area, such as Berwick Church. Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant decorated the interior with a series of murals. I've never been but always wanted to go. I'm sure there are other charming pubs and beautiful gardens in the area as well. It would be so nice not to be rushed!

  8. The gardens and stone buildings are heavenly, and the garden center too, with its restaurant right there.

  9. All such gorgeous photos! Charleston garden is so special, and it is lovely to think of Vanessa and Duncan painting to their heart's content outside. Petersham is always a favourite place of mine to visit, and there's always something new and beautiful to discover. It was such a shame it rained so much that day - I hope you get a trip to Kew another time! Miranda xxx

  10. Amazing Blog..!! All the pictures you shared are really beautiful. Nature don't need any captions for describing anything. Hope you enjoyed your trip a lot. Please keep sharing.

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  11. Photos and information you shared in this blog is really amazing and interesting to read . Thanks for sharing your experience and photos with us.keep posting like this.