25th - 28th Sept 2018

Copyright Kirstin Perers



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.



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).

berwick church

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.

..there is no better air than here for work
— John Maynard Keynes

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

*Transfers are not included, wine is available at an extra cost.


Early bird twin room with shared bathroom £495

Twin with shared bathroom from £570pp

Single Supplement with shared bathroom £650pp

Single Supplement with private bathroom £790pp

Twin/ Double Room with Ensuite £790pp



Tilton House provides a beautiful location from which to explore the loves, lives and philosophies of the Bloomsbury Group. There were so many special moments for me - from sittingin Keynes’ candlelit library reading the love letters exchanged between him and Lydia Lopokova in the early days of their courtship to the beautiful walk to see the murals at Berwick Church - painted by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Belll - the latter whilst still grieving the loss of her eldest son and more recently her sister. I gained a much greater understanding of the political, economic and geographical context in which Bloomsbury flourished and a real sense of how relevant their legacy is today withthe challenges we are now facing. I came away feeling nourished and inspired at so many different levels. A truly holistic experience…
Emma Hiwaizi




Tuesday 25th September

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.

Wednesday 26th September

8.30am        Breakfast

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 FirleBeacon, 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.

Thursday 27th September

8.00am    Breakfast

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                       

12.00pmLunch 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: Strange Offsprings This event with Mark Haddon and Alison MacLeod explore the creativity of the Bloomsbury group and celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Hogarth Press. Haddon and Macleod have both written stories in response to Charleston and the Hogarth centenary, which will be available to read at Tilton before the event if you wish.

Friday 28th September

8.30am          Breakfast vacate bedrooms

9.30-11am    Conversations in the Library                                                                                                    

11am             Farewell

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.


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.