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What is it like to grow up in an historic house and return years later to find tourists from all over the world wandering through the spaces you knew and loved as a child? Charleston and Sissinghurst are two of the most iconic houses in England open to the public, although entirely different in scale. Charleston, the former rural home of the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and a meeting place for some of the most influential creators and thinkers of the early part of the 20th century, is a modest Sussex farmhouse and the last surviving example of a complete Bloomsbury-decorated interior. Sissingurst Castle is the former home of the author Vita Sackville-West and the diplomat Harold Nicolson. The glorious garden that they created is one of the most important in the UK and part of the National Trust portfolio. Virginia Nicholson and Juliet Nicolson will discuss sharing their childhood homes with the public, tensions between preservation and embracing new ideas, and the challenges inherent in being seen as “keepers of the flame.” Virginia Nicholson is the granddaughter of Vanessa Bell and a social historian specializing in 20th century women’s lives in the UK. Juliet Nicolson is the granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West. She has written about Vita in her recent memoir, A House Full of Daughters. With a slightly different perspective on historic homes, Carter Hudgins will chair the conversation. Dr. Hudgins is the President and CEO of Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, an organization that safeguards America’s earliest example of fully executed Palladian architecture and the oldest preserved plantation house in the United States still open to the public.
Student tickets: $15 with coupon code STUDENT (valid student ID required)