I'm also a Friend of Charleston. I joined last year after several years of disappointment when trying to book tickets for the annual Charleston Festival. There is priority booking for Friends (it also means you can get into the house for free) and, sure enough, it worked; I managed to get two tickets for the Annie Leibovitz event yesterday (and two more for another event later this week).
I always enjoy visiting Charleston. Although it's something of a shrine to the Bloomsbury group (an aspect which can sometimes make me feel uncomfortable), it's a place of great creativity and inspiration, and the guides who take you round the house are wonderfully informative and often suitably Bloomsberryish.
I particularly like the garden which is a mix of formal lines and wildly informal planting. It has evolved, but is maintained as an artist's garden, as well as an inviting sitting-outside-and-reading and family garden.
AL was there to talk about her book Pilgrimage, which is the anitithesis of her usual high-concept celebrity potraiture: no assignment, no people, no artificial lighting, and the photos are taken with a small digital SLR camera. So different are the photographs, my friend managed to walk round the exhibition of in the Charleston Gallery without even realising they were the photos we'd come to hear about (and I suspect there were a lot of people in the audience who thought they'd be treated to stories about celebritities and extravagant shoots).
Annie Leibovitz spoke well, showed a huge number of images from the book, and was very persuasive when discussing her 'pilgrimage' to small, historical museums and famous writers'/artists' houses in the US and England. But I just couldn't be persuaded by the photos themselves. And if the photographs can't persuade without a commentary, I'm not sure they are achieving their objective.