Duchess of Cornwall opens restored barns and new galleries at Charleston

Writer Virginia Nicholson, granddaughter of painter Vanessa Bell who lived at Charleston, with the Duchess of Cornwall
Writer Virginia Nicholson, granddaughter of painter Vanessa Bell who lived at Charleston, with the Duchess of Cornwall

East Sussex welcomed a royal visitor yesterday (Thursday, May 16) when the Duchess of Cornwall undertook a series of engagements.

As patron of The Charleston Trust, she opened the restored barns and new galleries at the venue near Firle following the completion of the Charleston Centenary Project.

Radiant in blue ... the Duchess of Cornwall arrives at Charleston

Radiant in blue ... the Duchess of Cornwall arrives at Charleston

Her Royal Highness then viewed Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s ‘Famous Women’ dinner service, which Charleston has just acquired following the success of its ‘adopt a plate’ campaign.

The Charleston Centenary Project was launched to safeguard Charleston’s heritage, and marked the centenary of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s arrival there.

It was the home and country meeting place of the Bloomsbury Group.

The Duchess has been patron of the Charleston Trust since 2013 and hosted a tea for the supporters of the Charleston Centenary Project in March 2017. She last visited Charleston in 2011.

The Duchess of Cornwall admires the 'Famous Women' dinner service with Professor Michael Farthing, Chairman of The Charleston Trust

The Duchess of Cornwall admires the 'Famous Women' dinner service with Professor Michael Farthing, Chairman of The Charleston Trust

This year’s visit came on the eve of the 30th Charleston Festival – an annual celebration of books, ideas and creativity. The royal guest met Diana Reich, the Festival’s founder and Artistic Director with 2019 marking Diana’s last Festival.

The Duchess later marked the 10th anniversary of the Jamie’s Farm charity, of which she is also patron, with a visit to its newly opened farm between Offham and East Chiltington - close to her childhood home in Plumpton.

She toured the farm in Allington Lane, learned more about the organisation’s work with vulnerable young people and met the week’s resident school group.

The royal guest next attended the East Sussex Women of the Year Lunch at the American Express Community Stadium, Falmer. The group’s theme this year is raising awareness of loneliness in the community.

Finally the Duchess, who is President of Wine GB, visited the award-winning Ridgeview Wine Estate, a family-run sparkling wine business in Fragbarrow Lane, Ditchling Common.