Create, reconnect and unwind in Charleston’s garden

‘…the garden here was not a gentleman’s garden or a gardener’s garden, it was always an artist’s garden’ – Angelica Garnett

Charleston’s beautiful walled garden is opening as a place of creativity and wellbeing from Saturday 18 July. Pre-booking is essential.

The garden at Charleston was a canvas, a studio, a prop store, a stage, a sanctuary, and is absolutely central to the intense creativity of the place. Whether you’d like to put pen to paper; find a scene to paint; enjoy a picnic with friends; strike a chord (or two); or simply get away from it all, the garden is yours!

We can’t wait to see Charleston come alive again – share your photos with us on Instagram using #agardenofonesown and tag us @charlestontrust.

Angelica Garnett (far left) with Duncan Grant, Virginia Woolf and Lydia Lopokova having tea in the Charleston garden in the 1930s. Photo © The Charleston Trust.

How to book

  • To ensure a safe and relaxing experience, we’ve set up timed slots for visitors to book a private visit to the garden. You can book a slot for yourself, your household, or for a group of up to six people – don’t forget to tell us how you would like to use the garden!
  • You only need to book one ticket for your group of up to six people. Due to limited spaces, we’re asking that you only book once to allow others a chance to visit.
  • The garden is open Wednesday-Sunday with three time slots to choose from: 9.30am-11.30am, 12-2pm, and 2.30-4.30pm.
  • Two weeks of bookings will be open at a time, and we’ll release booking slots for the following two weeks at 12pm every other Friday. The next slots covering 29 August – 11 September will be released on Friday 21 August. Bookings close at 11:59pm the day before.
  • Slots are available to book for free, or with a suggested donation to support Charleston’s Emergency Appeal

BOOK NOW       

Useful information

  • We’ll send your booking confirmation and tickets by email. You’ll need to show your tickets on a device, or printed, when you arrive.
  • We ask that you kindly keep to the arrival time you have booked, and leave promptly at the end of your 2-hour slot.
  • The rest of Charleston, including the café and toilets, remains closed.
  • Most of the time, Charleston’s gardener and up to 3 volunteers will be working in the garden. They’re a friendly bunch but please remember to maintain social distancing.
  • It’s the perfect place for a picnic but barbecues are a fire risk and aren’t permitted.
  • From paint pots, books and instruments to picnicking chairs and blankets, bring whatever you would like to feel at home in the garden.
  • Help protect the flower beds by keeping to the lawn, gravel and piazza only.
  • Please use the hand sanitiser that is available at the entrance to the garden.
  • Please remember to take your litter home.
  • Visitor advice regarding Covid-19 will be updated on the website as necessary. For the latest information and advice, please consult Government guidance.
  • Find out more about the history of Charleston’s garden here.

Getting to Charleston

Charleston is sign-posted off the A27 Brighton to Eastbourne road, 7 miles east of Lewes, between the villages of Firle and Selmeston.

The access road to Charleston from the A27 is a narrow rural road belonging to the Firle Estate. The road is uneven and has deep ditches on either sides; please take care and use the regular passing points if you encounter oncoming traffic.

There is free parking at Charleston.

All cars and coaches should follow the signs to the main car park which is approximately a 200 metre walk from the House entrance.  There are dedicated accessible spaces in the top car park which is approximately a 50 metre walk from the House entrance.

Post code: BN8 6LL – Please be aware that some Sat Navs may misdirect you if using postcode alone. Please consult our directions above.

There is a regular service from London Victoria to Lewes which is 7 miles from Charleston.
Lewes is a major station where taxis are usually available on a rank. Advance booking is not normally necessary, unless arriving early in the morning or late at night. See here for National Rail onward travel information for Lewes station, including taxi numbers. Taxi journeys are usually calculated by meter, and you can expect a cost in the region of £20 one way.

The nearest station is Berwick, approximately 4 miles from Charleston. There is no taxi rank at this station. If walking from Berwick station, please be aware that some routes will lead you along the busy A27. It is advisable to carry an ordnance survey map of the area.

Travel by bus to Charleston is limited and we strongly recommend you plan your journey in advance. 

Monday-Saturday

Bus services calling at Charleston run from the bus station in Lewes to Eastbourne Monday-Saturday. Call 01323 870 920 or click here for more timetable details.

Please ask the driver to let you know where along the A27 to disembark for Charleston. It is a 15 minute walk up a single track lane to get to the site from the bus stop.

Charleston is situated in the heart of the South Downs National Park, an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ (AONB). If you are walking or cycling to Charleston, we recommend using an ordnance survey map. Find Charleston on Ordnance Survey Landranger maps 198 and 199, and on Ordnance Survey Explorer maps 122 and 123.

View Larger Map (opens in new tab)

Access at Charleston 

Accessible parking is available in the Accessible car park, signposted from the main car park.  To reach the designated bays, drive forward to the end of the Accessible car park and you will find two designated bays on your right hand side; these are approximately 50 metres from the House entrance. The main car park is approximately 250 metres from the House entrance.
Charleston is a rural site and the grounds are uneven. There are gravel paths which are a historical feature of Charleston.
The garden and grounds are partially accessible with pathways and viewing points made from bound earth with lime and gravel. Due to the historic nature of the garden design, some pathways are narrow and irregular and the ground can be uneven. Wheelchairs and mobility scooters can be used in the gardens,
Guide and assistance dogs are welcome in the garden and throughout the site. No other dogs are permitted, so please ensure your dog is wearing its identifying jacket.

Visitor Safety

The landscape and grounds of Charleston are maintained to reflect its history. Charleston is a rural site and the grounds are uneven and can be slippery when wet.

In the garden, there are areas of deep open water without barriers. A lifebuoy is situated by the main pond for emergency use. Due to open water, there is a possibility of water borne infections.

We ask visitors take appropriate care during their time at Charleston with particular awareness to keep children and vulnerable people safe from these risks.

There is always a trained first aider on duty. First Aid kits are available for trained staff to use and a defibrillator is available.

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