Pretty Picknicking: The Garden at Charleston, near Lewes


We went to Charleston today to do some scribbling with artist Chris Gilvan-Cartwright. It was part of the Small Wonder short story festival that was celebrating its tenth anniversary.

Anyone who read my last post will know that Little Lewes was asked to partner Chris’s event ‘Oodles of Doodles‘. It was a dream for my littlest one particularly. A roll of paper laid out over a long table, with pots of graphite, crayons, waxy pastels and pencils laid out along it.


Everyone got busy. When the paper became full to bursting, Chris just rolled it along again.


Both by boys eventually needed a leg stretch and some sustenance, as they are wont to do. It gave us a fresh chance to wander the aforementioned whimsical garden.


The dahlias (my favourite) were out in full electric-neon bloom. There were GIANT sunflowers. Floaty sunlit anemones. And Charleston’s stone residents peeped above walls and nestled in corners, where trees embraced them.


Here are some things to note about visiting Charleston with children:

  • The house at Charleston – something I’m yet to discover – is shown on a tour-only basis. It’s not recommended for small children (those under six)
  • The garden is very pretty. There is a lawned area within the walled garden that’s perfect for picnicking. There’s also grass by the large pond
  • Be aware there are wonky steps and crumbling walls. They WILL want to walk along/climb these
  • The garden has lots of paths, corners to round and discover (and disappear behind – watch them!)
  • It is full of bees and insects to look out for!
  • There’s also quite a bit of water in the garden – two small ponds within the walled area; then the big pond outside it
  • A little sort of field/paddock/orchard beyond the large pond is great for a run. But be aware that the small paths through the trees lead to the main pond. They WILL want to run down here! There is also access to Charleston’s compost heap from this little field
  • The shop is full of beautiful things. You may or may not choose to keep your children in their buggies or busy them with an ice cream outside in the enclosed entrance area…



Drive: 10 minutes

Address: Firle, Lewes, BN8 6LL

Tel no.: 01323 811265


Hours: Mar-Oct Wed-Sat 1-6pm, last entry 5pm; Sun + bank hols 1-5.30pm, last entry 4.30pm

Price: House + Grounds: Adult £9.95, Child (6-16) £5.95; Garden only: Adult £4, Child £2

For details of tomorrow’s (29 Sept 2013) Small Wonder family activities see my ‘Small Wonder for Your Small Wonders‘ post.

And now for some pictures of today’s event, with images of the garden below. As well as some difficult-not-to-post detail shots from the café…


















Chris Gilvan-Cartwright’s beautiful ‘Miniworld’ paintings of the Downs around us, on sale in the Charleston shop

Disclosure: I was asked to partner with and promote Small Wonder at Charleston in return for links from their site to Little Lewes. It is a wonderful association for Little Lewes because Charleston is one of those places that make our area special. I genuinely think this is a great event for families and it supports the continued preservation of the former home of the Bloomsbury group, which is now a charitable trust. I was offered complimentary tickets to attend the event with my family – this was not to review it, although I took the opportunity to do this picture post about the garden whilst there. It was a beautiful day and, what can I say, I got carried away with taking pictures! I have not been offered, nor have I accepted any other financial compensation for it. We all loved Oodles of Doodles!

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I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

3 thoughts on “Pretty Picknicking: The Garden at Charleston, near Lewes

    1. Thanks for the very kind comment TheBigForest – one of the nicest places to photograph as you can’t go wrong, the pictures will always look nice!

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