Staff and Trustees


Anne Olivier Bell

AO Bell

Anne Olivier Bell trained as an art historian (Courtauld, 1930s). She worked at the end of the war as part of a special international unit to repatriate works of art displaced by war.  In 1952 she married Quentin Bell and knew Charleston from this period onwards.  She is an acknowledged expert on Bloomsbury and on Charleston’s original collection and interiors. She has received honorary doctorates from Sussex and York Universities for her work editing the five volumes of Virginia Woolf’s diaries. Anne Olivier Bell was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List in 2014 for her services to the arts and literature.




Full team

The Charleston Team, January 2015 (c) Paul Harding


Alistair Burtenshaw, Director

Alistair Burtenshaw

  • Providing a strategic overview and leadership for the Charleston Trust and Charleston Enterprises
  • Development and delivery of the Charleston Centenary Project and fundraising for the £7 million that is required for the project.
  • Development of Charleston’s organisational capacity in the lead up to the completion of the Centenary Project.

Alistair joined Charleston in January 2013, becoming Director in March that year. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, he is also Chair of the Trustees at Arvon Foundation, the UK’s leading creative writing charity and Industry Advisory Board Member of the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies at Oxford Brookes University. Previous roles include Chair of the Trustees of Booktrust, the UK’s leading independent reading charity, President of Honour of the 2013 Paris Cookbook Fair, Director of Books and Publishing Worldwide at Reed Exhibitions and Director of The London Book Fair from 2001 to 2012. He was also formerly a Trustee of English PEN and BTBS The Book Trade Charity. Follow Alistair on Twitter on

Works: Tuesday – Friday


Direct line: 01323 815159


Carolyn Chinn, Head of Public Programmes and Learning

  • Developing and delivering Charleston’s two literary festivals, The Charleston Festival and Small Wonder, as well as the rolling public programme of events, workshops, walks and talks
  • Developing a new Schools and Community engagement programme in line with Charleston’s 5-year Forward Plan and within other areas of relevant activity, such as the festivals.

Carolyn has 20 years of experience working in museums in England, Scotland and Canada. She graduated with a Masters degree in Museum Studies from the University of Toronto, and acquired two BAs from Concordia University (Classics and Communication Studies) in her home town of Montreal. Since moving to the UK 18 years ago, she has completed an NVQ in Cultural Heritage Management (Level 3) and an Associateship of the Museums Association (AMA). Before starting with Charleston in 2014, Carolyn managed the Learning Department at the V&A Museum of Childhood for 10 years.

She works closely with Melissa Perkins to devise and deliver high quality inspirational and educational programming for Charleston.

Works: Monday – Friday


Direct line: 01323 815142


Dr Darren Clarke, Head of Curatorial Services

Darren Clarke

  • Monitoring the condition of the fabric of the buildings, the environmental conditions in the interior and the condition of the collections
  • Writing all interpretative material for the site, collection and ad hoc events
  • Managing the HLF Curatorial Internships programme

Dr Darren Clarke has been involved with Charleston for over a decade and has worked in many areas of the organisation. His latest incarnation is as the Head of Curatorial Services, looking after the house and collection and interpretation of Charleston as well as ensuring that our visitors get the best experience possible.

He successfully completed an AHRC sponsored Ph.D. in collaboration with the University of Sussex and the Charleston Trust, with a thesis that recontextualises the partnership between the Bloomsbury artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, focusing on geographical and corporeal thresholds. He has also lectured extensively on Bell and Grant and Bloomsbury’s queer heritage.

Works: Monday – Friday


Direct line: 01323 815146


Sarah Higson (ACA), Head of Finance

Sarah Higson

  • Financial management of The Charleston Trust and Charleston Enterprises; including all accounts, financial reporting to trustees, cash management, VAT and Gift Aid
  • Contributing to funding applications and completing the financial part of Heritage Lottery Fund claims

As Head of Finance, Sarah looks after the overall finance function at Charleston; working closely with Charles Rowney who maintains the day-to-day accounts. Sarah started her finance career with Tenon where she trained in general audit before moving over to their film team after qualification. After a career break volunteering and travelling, she entered the charity world as Financial Controller for BAFTA. Since then she had a brief interlude as a trainee teacher before moving back to charity finance and joining Charleston at this exciting time of change.

Works: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday


Direct line: 01323 815165


Janet Anthony, Catering and Hospitality Manager

  • Management of the Charleston catering and hospitality programme including the café, catering for events, festivals, workshops and cultivation events with stakeholders and supporters.Janet Anthony

To work at Charleston is an opportunity Janet has grasped with enthusiasm and delight after a career in education. After taking up the post of café supervisor in the summer of 2014, Janet has now taken on this strategic role of catering and hospitality for the organisation.

Works: 3 days a week (which vary to meet the needs of the organisation)


Direct line: 01323 811626


Belinda Da Silva, Retail Manager and Buyer

Belinda Da Silva

  • Managing the day to day running of the shop including the smooth running of ticket sales for house and gardens visitors, the supervision of shop staff and managing online shop sales
  • Business development for the shop including identifying and developing new lines

Belinda attended Lucy Clayton’s College of Dress Making & Design where she gained her diploma. She then attended the London College of Fashion gaining a diploma in ‘Men’s Bespoke Tailoring’. From this, Belinda then worked as a coat maker for Harrods.

Works: Wednesday – Sunday and Bank Holidays March – December; Monday – Friday January – March


Direct line: 01323 815158


Mark Divall, Head Gardener

Mark Divall by Penny Fewster

  • Maintaining and managing Charleston’s garden, grounds and pond, including public areas such as the car park, orchard and festival site

Mark started work for Brighton Parks and Gardens in 1969, on a 3 year City and Guilds course, going on to a 1 year course in Landscape construction in 1973. He then worked in Wiltshire/Somerset as a landscape foreman from 1978-1980.

In 1980, he moved to Clifton Nurseries in London as a peripatetic gardener on the Soft Landscaping gang. Mark came to Charleston in 1986 and then moved to France in 1990, working as a self employed gardener in the Luberon area of Provence until 2006, when he moved back to Charleston.



Anna Easthope, Marketing and Communications Manager

Anna Easthope

  • Marketing and communicating all areas of Charleston’s activities
  • Maintaining and developing the Charleston brand and developing new audiences
  • Managing all press related issues, requests and relationships with regional arts organisations

Anna studied BA (Hons) in Business Studies & Marketing and has postgraduate marketing qualifications with the CIM and IDM. Anna has worked in sports marketing for most of her career, including the renowned Oval cricket ground with Surrey Cricket, and as Senior Marketing Manager for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club for the last 7 years, covering brand development, digital marketing, event marketing and strategy.

Works: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday


Direct line: 01323 815141


Rebecca Lewry-Gray, Visitor Manager

Rebecca Lewry-Grayon Maternity leave until December 2015

Becca studied History of Art at Sussex University, graduating in 2008. After working as a freelance production assistant and in retail for a number of years Becca started at Charleston as an intern, becoming Assistant Visitor Manager in 2011 and Visitor Manager in 2012.



Katharine Majer, Visitor Manager (Maternity cover)

Katharine Majer

  • Managing the day to day running of the house for visitors, including managing Charleston’s team of guides and volunteer stewards
  • Managing the structure, content and development of the Charleston website


Katharine has a BA in History from Cardiff University and an MA in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester. She has worked and volunteered in many museums and heritage organisations, including National Museum Wales, the National Trust and the Cardiff Story Museum. Katharine became Assistant Visitor Manager at Charleston in March 2014 and took over as Operational Development Manager (maternity cover) in December the same year.

Works: Wednesday-Sunday


Direct line: 01323 815164


Jane Noble, Facilities and Membership Manager

  • Managing the Charleston office facilities such as telephones, IT, photocopier; waste collection and utilities for the site
  • Administration of the Friends of Charleston membership scheme and Omega group, Charleston’s patron membership group
  • Venue hire

With a BA in Arts Management, Jane has over eight year’s experience working within administration and office management, predominantly within the arts and public sector. With a keen interest in visual arts, Jane has worked specifically with organisations specialising in photography for over six years, beginning as Digital Arts & Photography Administrator for City College Brighton & Hove, before spending four years as General Manager at Photoworks. Jane has also been involved with Brighton Photo Fringe since 2008 and project managed their biennial festival in 2012.

Works: Monday – Friday


Direct line: 01323 815143


Melissa Perkins, Public Programmes and Learning Coordinator

  • Working with and supporting the Head of Public Programmes and Learning in the delivery of all logistical aspects of the two annual literary festivals and programme of events, workshops, talks and walks
  • Supporting the delivery of a new Schools and Community engagement programme

Melissa has a background in Festivals, having worked for the Brighton, Edinburgh and New Zealand Festivals.  She also has experience in working with schools, and community engagement.

Works: Monday – Friday


Direct line: 01323 815144


Nick Rose, Capital Appeals Manager

  • Nick Rose croppedFundraising for the £7million Centenary Project
  • Identifying and pursuing new partnership and fundraising opportunities in the UK and USA
  • Assisting with core costs targets through trusts and foundations application writing

Works: Monday – Friday


Direct line: 01323 815141

More details coming soon


Charles Rowney, Finance Manager

Charlie Rowney cropped

  • Day to day running of the accounts department; first point of contact with our Bankers, Charity Commission and Companies House.

Charles originally studied for a biology degree at Imperial College before joining KPMG where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant. Since then he has worked in financial roles within a range of organisations including a pharmaceutical research organisation in Belgium, an environmental consultancy in Newbury and Middle Farm near Firle.

Works: Monday – Friday


Direct line: 01323 815157


Kristina Sekyere, Operational Development Manager

  • Managing and scheduling meetings with the Director, staff, trustees and key stakeholders.
  • Regularly reviewing and updating Charleston’s policies in line with Charity Commission best practice, Charleston’s Forward Plan and Director’s vision.
  • Recommending and implementing changes for the development of Charleston, its staff and governance
  • Leading on staff recruitment, HR and inductions
  • First point of contact for the architects, contractors, project managers, quantity surveyors, consultants and advisors for the Centenary Project

Kristina Sekyere

Kristina previously worked for the University of Reading coordinating their programme of musical activities. On returning to her East Sussex roots, she worked for 6 years for Creative Partnerships, a government funded scheme working with children, young people and creative practitioners.

Works: Tuesday- Friday


Direct line: 01323 815160


Susie Tempest, Fundraising Manager

Susie Tempest

  • Fundraising for the organisation to support core costs from trusts and foundations, individuals and public sector funders; managing legacies and bequests to the Trust
  • Securing sponsorship and advertising for the May Festival and Small Wonder
  • Recruitment, management and development of the Omega Group, the Trust’s patron scheme

Susie has over 15 years of experience working in the tourism and communications industry. Prior to joining Charleston, Susie worked as the Head of PR and Communications at Hills Balfour in central London. She has worked with international and UK tourist boards, including those for South East England, New York City, Chicago and Hong Kong. At Charleston, she has been able to combine her knowledge and expertise in the tourism sector with her love for the arts and literature, and is responsible for all fundraising needs, including corporate sponsors for the Charleston Festival and Small Wonder, trusts and foundations, major donors, legacies and for the Omega Group.

Works: Monday – Friday


Direct line: 01323 815161


Maggy Tyhurst, Housekeeper

Maggy Tyhurst by Penelope Fewster

  • Conservation cleaning of the house

Maggy began working for the National Trust in conservation in 1990 at Monk’s House.  In 1993 she was approached to join the Charleston team to provide conservation care and specialist cleaning techniques, working closely with Charleston’s Head of Curatorial Services. Over the last three years she has worked with and trained a small team of collection care volunteers who now help to ‘put the house to bed’ each winter.






Nigel Newton, Chairman of the Trustees

Nigel Newton is the founder and Chief Executive of BloomsburyPublishing.  He was born and raised in San Francisco. He read English at Selwyn College,Cambridge.  After working at Macmillan Publishers, he joined Sidgwick & Jackson.  He left Sidgwick in 1986 to start Bloomsbury. Bloomsbury floated on The London Stock Exchange in 1994. Bloomsbury publishes 2000 books a year and employs 500 people. Bloomsbury authors include JK Rowling, David Guterson, Margaret Atwood, William Boyd, Daniel Goleman, Ben McIntyre, Kate Summerscale, Elizabeth Gilbert, Heston Blumenthal, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Khaled Hosseini.

Nigel Newton serves as Chairman of The British Library Trust, President of Book Aid International, Chairman of The Charleston Trust, Member of the Man Booker Prize Advisory Committee, Trustee of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Member of the Executive Committee of The Churchill Centre (UK) and Chair of Rescue The Cuckmere Valley.


Virginia Nicholson, Deputy Chairman of the Trustees

Virginia Nicholson is a writer and the daughter of Quentin and Anne Olivier Bell. She has chronicled the family in Charleston: A Bloomsbury House and Garden. Her books include Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939, Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men after the First World War and Millions Like Us: Women’s Lives in War and Peace 1939-1949




Venetia Abergavenny

Venetia AbergavennyVenetia Abergavenny is a successful artist (working under the name Venetia Nevill) with exhibitions in New York, London and Sussex.  She is married to Christopher, the VI Marquess of Abergavenny and lives at Eridge Park where she is involved in running music festivals, decorative fairs and charity events.




Dinah Casson

Dinah Casson is an award winning designer and a director of the interior design practice Casson Mann. Established in 1984 in partnership with Roger Mann, this innovative consultancy has set about transforming the world of museums and galleries with its fresh, creative and innovative approach to design. Recent projects have involved the design for the V&A’s Hollywood Costume exhibition and the refurbishment of the V&A’s British Galleries. Currently the studio is working on the World War 1 galleries for the Imperial War Museum and a museum at Lascaux, Montignac. She has many years of experience as a teacher and was course director of Architecture & Interior Design at the Royal College of Art where she is now an external examiner. She divides her time between London and her home in Sussex.


Mark Harwood, Chair of Finance

Mark Harwood resized for webMark Harwood is a partner at Baker Tilly in London and heads up Baker Tilly’s US Desk and the Private Equity Group. Mark has over 25 years of experience in advising companies ranging from well-known multi-national corporations to smaller, entrepreneurial owner-managed businesses. He has previously worked with PwC and EY, as an advisor to government and as CFO of a European retail business which he grew through a number of acquisitions. He has been involved in advising a number of smaller charities through Pilotlight, a programme which links business with the charities sector to mutual benefit. Mark has a degree in Political Economy and studied Keynesian economics at UCL. He lives and works in London but originally comes from Sussex and retains his love of the Sussex countryside and the South Downs. He has an active interest in photography and the Arts generally.


Charles Saumarez Smith

Charles Saumarez Smith is an art historian and museum director. He was Director of the National Portrait Gallery, then the National Gallery, and is now Chief Executive of the Royal Academy.  He is a former president of the Museums Association.




Gillian Wolfe

Gillian Wolfe CBE is Director of Learning and Public Affairs at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Gillian is the author of several art books for children. She is also a freelance education consultant and Specialist Adviser to the Clore Duffield Foundation Grants Programme and Historic House Association. She is Associate Director of The Georgian Theatre Royal, Trustee of Brighton Pavilion and Museums and Arts4Dementia.





For a list of our Emeritus Trustees please click here.