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Got £3.5 million? If you do, you can buy Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s home in Richmond. The site where they founded the Hogarth Press in 1917 is up for sale again, but this time at a lower price.

In the fall of 2017, the refurbished home, where the Woolfs lived from 1915-1924, was on the market for a price of £4.4 million. It sold in 2019 for £2.95 million, property records show.

Before the redo

Emma Woolf in front of a vine-covered Hogarth House in Richmond in 2016.

The Woolfs’ former home on The Green wasn’t always pristine. Back in June of 2016, when I visited it with Emma Woolf, the Woolfs’ great-niece and the daughter of publisher Cecil Woolf, the front was covered with thick, overgrown vine that nearly obscured the blue plaque marking it as an historic site.

At that time, unpainted plywood covered the main entrance and a list of “Site Safety” cautions was plastered to the front door of the Georgian brick home in south west London.

A lot has changed since then, as you will see when you take a look at the recent stories picturing the luxurious new state of the Paradise Road home.

A bit of Hogarth House history

I wrote about the Woolfs in Richmond back in 2010, as follows.

According to Julia Briggs in Virginia Woolf an Inner Life (2005), the Woolfs took the lease on the property on Virginia’s 33rd birthday. Hogarth House was part of the present Suffield House, which at that time was divided into two separate homes. The Woolfs occupied half of the Georgian brick home, moving there in early March of 1915.

One of England’s famous blue plaques, added in 1976, is affixed to the house to commemorate the Woolfs’ residency. The plaque is one of 15 in Richmond.

Richmond, Woolf’s writing, and the Great War

The Hogarth Press began publishing at Hogarth House in July 1917. Woolf published Two Stories, Kew Gardens, Monday or Tuesday and Jacob’s Room between 1917 and 1924. Interestingly enough, Woolf could see Kew Gardens from the rear windows of Hogarth House.

When German air raids during World War I disturbed the sleep and the safety of the Woolfs and their servants, they moved to the basement at night. And when peace came, Woolf celebrated along with other Richmond residents.

On July 20, 1919, she wrote her diary entry about the “peace” celebrations:

After sitting through the procession and the peace bells unmoved, I began after dinner to feel that if something was going on, perhaps one had better be in it…The doors of the public house at the corner were open and the room crowded; couples waltzing; songs being shouted, waveringly, as if one must be drunk to sing. A troop of little boys with lanterns were parading the Green, beating sticks. Not many shops went to the expense of electric light. A woman of the upper classes was supported dead drunk between two men partially drunk. We followed a moderate stream flowing up the Hill.

Richmond makes its way into Woolf’s later novels as well. In The Waves (1931), for example, the reunion dinner at the end takes place at Hampton Court, which is located in Richmond. In the novel, Bernard calls it the  “meeting-place” for the group of six longtime friends.

Likes and dislikes

Like most things in life, though, Woolf wavered between liking and disliking Richmond. Briggs says that even though Woolf described Hogarth House in one of her diaries as “a perfect house, if ever there was one,” by June of 1923 she was anxious to move back to London. In a diary entry that month, she wrote, “we must leave Richmond and set up in London.”

In March of 1924, the Woolfs left Richmond to move back to London. They set up housekeeping and publishing at 52 Tavistock Square.

More on Virginia Woolf in Richmond

For an in-depth look at Woolf and Richmond, read Peter Fullager’s 2018 book Virginia Woolf in Richmond. Published by Aurora Metro Books, it provides an overview of the 10 years that Virginia and Leonard spent in Richmond, just a 15-minute train trip from central London.

In it, Fullagar explores Virginia’s diaries and letters, along with Leonard’s autobiography, to reveal how Richmond influenced Virginia’s personal life, as well as her writing life, from 1914-1924.

Hogarth House in June of 2016, overgrown with vines and with its front entrance boarded up and papered with “Site Safety’ cautions.

The blue plaque noting the historical significance of the Woolfs’ residency in Hogarth House was nearly obscured by overgrown vines in June of 2016.

Sign directing visitors to parking for Paradise Road, the location of Hogarth House.

Booth in the train station welcoming visitors to Richmond.

Richmond train station

 

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