I first visited Charleston in 1989, only three years after it had officially opened its doors to the public. What consumed me then was the beauty and history of the place, its unique decorative interiors, and the collection, but also the landscape and sense of place that had inspired Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant since their arrival in 1916. I returned many times over subsequent years, on every occasion hearing more about the artists, writers and thinkers known as the Bloomsbury group who occupied Charleston and had themselves been inspired by the surrounding downland scenery. Their values and ideals resonated with me, from the first books I read about the Bloomsbury group prior to visiting Charleston and I am very proud to be able to help Charleston to continue to inspire visitors to our house, gardens and year-round activities.
As an independent charity which relies on generating its own income, Charleston has continued to thrive, testament to the hard work of its staff and volunteers and with the encouragement of its many visitors, Friends, supporters and stakeholders. As we approach the centenary of Bell and Grant’s arrival at Charleston, in October 1916, it is ever more important that we secure Charleston’s future for new generations of visitors via the Charleston Centenary Project.