Friday, 30 July 2010

Following in Virginia Woolf's Footsteps

On a hot day in June this year, My Man and I went to visit a local beauty spot, a seaside village - Manorbier.

I have long been interested in the Bloomsbury Group and
gleefully picked up Virginia Woolf A Biography for 50p at a car boot sale a few months ago. I was delighted to discover that she was a regular summer visitor to Manorbier from 1904.

The image above is of one of two houses in which she is purported to have stayed. At the time it was called Sea View. It was known as Blue Dolphins when Lesley Kenton lived there a few years ago and now it is named Vigilant House after the present owners' boat. Taking a deep breath and grasping my courage in both hands, I knocked on their door to ask permission to photograph the outside of their house.  They very kindly said yes and were incredibly welcoming and helpful...inviting us inside for a brief tour, even though they were preparing a supper for visitors who would be arriving later on that afternoon.

We walked where she may have gently strolled, leaving the faintest of echoes for me to feel her essence, wondering, did she visit the old 12th Century Norman Church.....

fall in love with the simple designs of the brilliantly coloured windows inside.....

gaze in a dream at this view from a wooden bench in the graveyard......

feel how sacred this quiet, peaceful ancient site is......

find paths of enlightenment along the way.....

where her husband may have made her laugh by flirting playfully with her.....

and would she have gasped in delighted awe at the Neolithic 'earth fast' chambered tomb appropriately called King's Quoit, for where better place for a King to set his bones so his spirit may fly free

From this vantage point, I wonder if gazing down, she saw a wave such as this and was inspired, as has been mentioned in her biography, to write The Waves.

I found 'The Waves' in another car boot sale last weekend and the first paragraph makes me swoon!

'The sun had not yet risen. The sea was indistinguishable from the sky, except that the sea was slightly creased as if a cloth had wrinkles in it. Gradually as the sky whitened a dark line lay on the horizon dividing the sea from the sky and the grey cloth became barred with thick strokes moving, one after another, beneath the surface, following each other, pursuing each other, perpetually.'

We so enjoyed this day and will visit again soon as we did not get to see the castle or the thirteenth century dovecote and I really fancy visiting the little coffee shop for another sparkling Elderflower cordial, and lemon cheesecake.


  1. Oh the color of those beautiful, beautiful waves. What a wonderful post. It was so nice to have traveled with you today.

  2. Oh my god. I'm speechless right now. Well, I'm a little overdramatic at times. But, certain thoughts have been leading me in certain directions lately. And it's like you have been reading my thoughts! Or we've been floating on the same cloud!
    First, you said those lovely words about our richly diverse and ancient land on my blog, after I have been digging into the depths of my feelings about 'Englishness' for the last few weeks.
    Then, I came here, and you've written about Virginia Woolf, the Bloomsbury Group, and this holiday house of theirs, which I desperately want to visit.
    The word 'Bohemian' has been floating around in my imagination for weeks now, and gives me a sense of understanding what I'm trying to create with my own life.
    I'm sorry, I know this must sound a bit garbled and ridiculous. Thanks for being on the same wavelength tonight.
    Bright Blessings.

  3. Well this is nearly a year late!

    Thank you so much Relyn and Sam :~)

    blessed be ~