#secretsMW – Behind the Scenes at Charleston
Left: CHA-P-617-173, lists and notes made by Vanessa Bell. Right: CHA-P-712-R. Letter from Vanessa Bell to an unknown recipient discussing her household staff. Photographs © The Charleston Trust
While Charleston is best known for its role as a creative retreat for artists and writers, it is important to remember that it was also a domestic environment. From the start, Vanessa Bell assumed her role as head of the household. She worked tirelessly alongside hired staff to ensure life was as comfortable as possible in the face of World War I food rationing and problems associated with living in an old, rural house. The Angelica Garnett Gift is littered with reminders of her matriarchal role: from shopping lists and accounts jotted on the backs of sketches, to extracts of letters discussing the household staff slipped into sketchbooks.
You can read more about domestic life at Charleston here.