This retreats runs three times a year, with each retreat being unique with its own twist.
Midsummer Bloomsbury Retreat
June 25th - 28th
Small Wonder Bloomsbury Retreat
Sept 25th - 28th
Join us for four days of complete immersion in the real lives of the Bloomsbury set, in the South Downs home of Maynard Keynes and Lydia Lopokova. This unique retreat at Tilton House offers a rare opportunity to sleep, eat, breathe, explore, discover and grow exactly as the Bloomsbury set did, in the only Bloomsbury house to offer a residential escape. Walk in their footsteps over the Downs, sleep in their bedrooms, talk until the small hours in their fireside library, and feast on food from their recipe books in the same kitchen that hosted countless candlelit gatherings.
WHATS ON OFFER:-
Your absorption in Bloomsbury life will include special guided tours of Charleston and Monk’s House, a walk along the old coach road to see Bell and Grant’s spectacular murals at Berwick Church, and an invigorating yomp over the Downs to the Rodmell home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf. We will visit Duncan and Vanessa’s graves at Firle Church, admire the John Piper stained glasswork, and find Virginia’s first cottage, Little Talland.
Discover Tilton’s stories and secrets from the rarely-explored archive as you become an official ‘Tiltonian’, as associates of the House were called. You will have some time to yourself each day to bask in the stillness and magic of the beautiful grounds. Explore Lydia’s garden, scribble away in the writing shed, relax in the hammocks and outdoor sauna, stretch out in the secret yurt or enjoy a knockabout on the tennis courts where Tiltonians played with gusto (but by Lydia’s account, very little skill).
Your stay will conclude with a special torchlit procession as the sun sets over the Downs, past the winding chalk paths where Keynes’ ashes were spread, and up to the top of Firle Beacon, where breathtaking views and a candlelit banquet awaits. We’ll wind up the gramophone as the stars come out, share food, wine and stories, and end the night learning Tilton’s very own ‘Keyne Keyne’ dance.
Exploring the importance of community and friendship is at the heart of this retreat, as we celebrate and learn from the creativity and nourishment the Bloomsbury set gained from the rich kinship of their network.
Run by the Department of Wellbeing, the Bloomsbury Retreat is designed to invigorate and inspire every aspect of our physical, intellectual, creative and social selves. As the still centre where Lydia’s restless physicality and Keynes’ world-changing intellect found balance with one another, Tilton House is the perfect place to get your body and mind working together. You will leave this immersive experience with fresh air in your lungs, new ideas in your notebook, and with insights into the Bloomsbury group that few have had before.
Three nights accommodation including all vegetarian meals
Arrival cream tea
Bloomsbury Ballerina book by Judith Mackerell
Department of Wellbeing goodie bag
Entrance to Charleston Farmhouse for private guided tour
Entrance to Monks House for private guided tour
*Entry to two events at Charleston Small Wonder Festival - purely for Sept event
*Transfers are not included, wine is available at an extra cost.
Early bird twin with shared bathroom £525pp
Twin with shared bathroom from £570pp
Single Supplement with shared bathroom £650pp
Twin/ Double Room with En-suite £790pp
SCHEDULE - guide only
3.00pm Afternoon tea on arrival; settling in and exploring Tilton House and gardens
5.00pm Welcome. We will gather in Maynard’s Library to introduce the plan for the week ahead and explore some of the stories and ideas behind the retreat. Opportunity to share your Bloomsbury journey, interest and questions.
7.00pm Kitchen supper Our suppers will be inspired by recipes and ingredients in the Bloomsbury Cookbook.
8.00pm Conversations in the Library Gather for drinks around the fire in the Library as we read from the letters between Lydia, Maynard and their Bloomsbury friends, discover untold Tilton stories and tell a few of our own stories too.
9.30am Walk in the Bloomsbury footsteps over the fields to Charleston, where you will be treated to a special tour of the house and have free time to explore the gardens.
12.30pm Back to Tilton for lunch
1.30pm Weather allowing, we will walk up the Downs to the top of Firle Beacon, exploring the routes Maynard would take to do his best thing, passing the place where his ashes were scattered, and pointing out sites of Bloomsbury interest. We will explore the role the area played in the creativity and wellbeing of the group, read about this from their diaries and letters, and share our own insights too. If the weather is too inclement to walk, we will enjoy the same discussions in comfort at Tilton.
6.00pm Early supper
7.00pm Dusk walk to Charleston, looking for badgers and barn owls, as we make our way to a night at the Small Wonder Festival.
7.45pm Small Wonder: Stories of Resistance This event, featuring David Constantine, Kit de Waal and Cathy Galvin, reflects on the role of literature and life story in documenting protest and resistance. It is interesting to think about this in the context of the Bloomsbury set at war, from Duncan Grant’s conscientious objection, Woolf’s war-weary suicide, the death of Vanessa Bell’s son and the artwork at Berwick Church.
9.00am Walk to Berwick Church along the old Coach Road, a familiar Bloomsbury route, to discover the murals and artwork painted by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell after the death of her son. Berwick embodies many key themes of this retreat: creativity, wellbeing, collaboration, support, beauty and togetherness. Note: This trip is optional if you would rather have free time at Tilton
12.00pm Lunch at Tilton
1.30pm Travel to Monk’s House in Rodmell, the home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf. We will have a tour of the house, then gather in the gardens by Virginia’s writing shed to read extracts from the diaries and letters about Lydia and Virginia’s friendship.
6.00pm Early supper
7.00pm Dusk walk to Charleston
7.45pm Small Wonder
8.30am Breakfast vacate bedrooms
9.30-11am Conversations in the Library
After leaving Tilton, we recommend exploring the local village of Firle, where you can visit the graves of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, the John Piper window in the Church and find Little Talland, the house where Virginia once lived. You may also enjoy a walk from Firle up to the top of the Beacon and around the Downs.
WHAT TO BRING:-
Good walking shoes/ wellness - the fields around here are now quite wet.
Walking trousers and a raincoat would also be useful.
Comfy footwear to wear indoors.
Any medication for allergies - there are two cats at Tilton.