Did Virginia Woolf Live in a Haunted House?

Between the years 1912 until 1919, Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard spent their weekends and holidays in a rented country house in East Sussex called Asheham house.

Virginia rented the home (which is sometimes spelled Asham) with her Bloomsbury Group friends who took turns sharing the house. Virginia and Leonard actually spent their wedding night in the house before leaving for their European honeymoon.

Asheham House

Asheham House

According to the book Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life, Virginia and Leonard often heard strange noises in the house and soon believed it to be haunted. In his diary, Leonard wrote about the ghostly noises in his diary:

“Asham was a strange house. The country people on the farm were convinced that it was haunted, that there was treasure buried in the cellar, and no one would spend the night in it. It is true that at night one often heard extraordinary noises both in the cellars and in the attic. It sounded as if two people were walking from room, opening and shutting doors, sighing, whispering…I have never known a house which had such a strong character, personality of its own – romantic, gentle, melancholy, lovely. It was Asham and its ghostly footsteps and whisperings which gave Virginia the idea for A Haunted House and I can immediately see, hear, and smell the house when I read the opening words:  ‘whatever hour you woke there was a door shutting. From room to room they went, hand in hand, lifting here,  opening there, making sure – a ghostly couple.’”

After Virginia and Leonard were forced to give up the lease on Asheham house in 1919, they bought nearby Monk’s house, which they owned for the rest of their lives.

Despite Virginia’s love for Asheham house during her time there, when she visited the home later that year she decided it was “a little shut in and dismal…but I expect this is one of the devices of the imagination.”

In 1932, the house and the land it sat on was sold to a cement company who allowed the home to become rundown and dilapidated.

Although the house was listed as a historical building, the company demolished it in 1994, after features of the home were preserved.

Sources:
The Asham Award: The Woolfs at Asham: http://www.ashamaward.com/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=71
“Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life”; Julia Briggs; 2005

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About Rebecca Beatrice Brooks

Rebecca Beatrice Brooks is a freelance writer and history lover who got her start in journalism working for small-town newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Rebecca graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in Journalism in 2001.

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