Rodmell is a small village in the South Downs of Sussex, four miles south of Lewis and a few miles north of the coast at Newhaven. It has many lovely old buildings. The Abergavenny Arms is a traditional family run pub and highly regarded by walkers. St. Peter’s Church is a Grade I listed building with lovely flint walls. It dates back to the 12th century, but underwent restoration in Victorian times. It has a square tower with a pyramidal cap.
The majority of Rodmell’s summer visitors are attracted to Monk’s House, a 17th century weather-boarded cottage associated with Virginia Woolf, the famous novelist and her husband, Leonard. It is a Grade II listed building, now in the care of the National Trust. Virginia and Leonard bought the house in 1919, as a country retreat from their London house in Bloomsbury. It became their permanent home in September 1940, after their London home was destroyed by a bomb in the Blitz. They created a beautiful English country garden and orchard, which have lovely views across the River Ouse, towards the South Downs. Many members of the Bloomsbury Group, an intellectual circle of writers and artists, visited Monk’s House. In the garden, is the wooden Writing Lodge, where Virginia Woolf wrote most of her major works and her diaries. She regarded it as the perfect place to write – peaceful, with incredible views.
Tragically, Virginia Woolf drowned herself in the River Ouse near Monk’s House, on 28th March 1941, after several periods of depression. Her husband, Leonard, continued to live in Monk’s House until his death in 1969. Both their final resting places are in the garden. Her ashes were buried beneath an elm tree, which fell in a storm in 1943. Leonard’s ashes were scattered in the garden. There are commemorative busts of both Virginia and Leonard in the garden.