Full team

The Charleston Team, January 2015 (c) Paul Harding


Alistair Burtenshaw, Director

Alistair Burtenshaw

  • Providing a strategic overview and executive leadership of the Charleston Trust and Charleston Enterprises Ltd.
  • Development and delivery of the £8.5m Charleston Centenary Project
  • Development of Charleston’s organisational capacity and resources 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. Formerly Chair of the Trustees of BookTrust, the UK’s leading reader development charity, Director of Books and Publishing Worldwide at Reed Exhibitions and Director of The London Book Fair from 2001 to 2012. He was also formerly President of Honour of the 2013 Paris Cook Book Fair, Industry Advisory Board Member of the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies at Oxford Brookes University, Trustee of English PEN and Trustee of BTBS The Book Trade Charity.

Works: Monday – 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

  • Overseeing the financial management of The Charleston Trust and Charleston Enterprises; including the preparation of management accounts, statutory reporting, treasury management, contracts, VAT and Gift Aid
  • Preparing and monitoring the budget including regular liaison with budget holders
  • 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: Saturday– Wednesday March – October; Monday – Friday January – March


Direct line: 01323 815158


Mark Divall, Head Gardener

Mark Divall by Penny Fewster

  • Keeper of the garden and grounds…

Mark became the Charleston Trust’s first gardener in 1986, when the garden  opened to the public that Spring.

He had initially renovated the garden for Clifton Nurseries in 1985, working closely with Sir Peter Shepheard, who had drawn up a plan extensively researched from paintings, photos and memories.

Over a number of years – with a long interval spent gardening in Provence, for, amongst others, painters Angelica Garnett and Brigitte Riley – Mark has recreated the garden with his planting, nurturing the original ideas of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and capturing the spirit of the place.



Josephine Finn, Marketing and Communications Manager (Maternity Cover)

  • 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

Jo has over 15 years’ marketing communications experience spanning a range of sectors (from children’s books to risk management). She has previously worked for the Wellcome Trust, NCVO, Incisive Media, Egmont Books and a whole host of freelance clients. She is CIM-qualified and was shortlisted for a Women in Marketing Award.

Works: Monday, Thursday and Friday
Direct line: 01323 815143


Rebecca Lewry-Gray, Visitor and Volunteer Manager

Rebecca Lewry-Gray

  • managing the way in which the general public visit Charleston during the open season.
  • the marketing and promotion of the house to visitors
  • recruitment, training and management of the team of Guides and Stewards
  • working with the Curator on the interpretation of the house and collection for visitors
  • working with the Curator on issues relating to preventive conservation and security
  • leading on visitor research and monitoring
  • managing all of Charleston’s volunteers including recruitment, induction and training

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.

Works: Wednesday- Sunday plus Bank Holiday Mondays


Direct line: 01323 815164



Melissa Perkins, Public Programmes and Learning Coordinator

On Maternity leave until June 2016


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.




Grace Towner, Public Programmes and Learning Coordinator (Maternity cover)grace photo

  • Hands on support in the delivery of all logistical aspects of the two annual literary festival public programmes
  • Supporting the delivery of Charleston’s rolling public programme currently consisting of creative and cultural activities such as walks, talks and creative workshops
  • Supporting the delivery of a new Schools and Community engagement programme

Grace has a background in Photography and the arts. Having graduated from the University of Brighton in 2014, with a BA Hons in Photography, she has since freelanced as a Photographer, coordinated arts participation projects and been involved in Education and Learning at the Keep Archives. Grace began working at Charleston in September 2014 as a Fundraising Assistant.

Works: Monday-Friday


Direct line: 01323 815144



Camilla Clark, Assistant Visitor Manager

  • Managing group visits throughout the season
  • Leading on visitor feedback analysis
  • Supporting the Visitor Manager in the day to day management of Charleston

Camilla studied Art History, Literature and Music through the Open University and completed a Masters in the History of Art and Visual Culture at Oxford University, where she wrote on Roland Penrose.  She previously worked at Towner and more recently managed the Oboe Department at a specialist woodwind manufacturer and retailer in London.  She is local to Charleston, growing up and living in nearby Chalvington.

Works: Wednesday-Sunday plus Bank Holiday Mondays


Direct line: 01323 815148



Leah Romaniello, Facilities and Memberships Manager (Maternity cover)

Leah Romaniello

  • the smooth running of the Charleston office facilities such as telephones, IT, photocopier
  • management of the waste collection, heating, electricity of the Charleston site
  • administration of the Friends of Charleston membership scheme and Omega group, Charleston’s patron membership group
  • Venue hire

Leah is currently finishing her masters in art history at the University of Sussex. She has a strong background in arts and education. She worked as a photographer and videographer in Tucson, Arizona and in Serajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2008 she took three months to ride her bicycle across the United States and documented the journey with a Hasselblad camera.

Works: Monday-Friday


Direct line: 01323 815143



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


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



Ed Smith, Finance Manager Ed

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

Born and raised in Lewes, after graduating from Salford University with a degree in Economics and IT in 2000, Ed returned home to Sussex and trained as an accountant in Brighton. After working in a handful of practices across Sussex, Ed worked as HR manager for the catering team at Glyndebourne Opera House for a number of years before coming back to his finance roots here at Charleston.

Works: Monday-Friday


Direct line: 01323 815157


Eleanor Crawforth, Head of Development and Enterprises (Maternity cover) Eleanor-5

  • 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

Eleanor comes to Charleston from a literature background, having long been a fan of Bloomsbury and worked at Small Wonder Festival 2015. She has over ten years’ experience working in literary publishing, including at Carcanet Press in Manchester and Myriad in Brighton. As well as editorial, marketing and publicity roles within arts organisations, Eleanor has worked as a freelance editor, an artistic assessor for Arts Council England and a programmer of literature events. She has an MA in English from the University of Cambridge (during which she completed her dissertation on the art of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell) and a postgraduate degree in twentieth-century and contemporary literature from the University of Manchester. She was shortlisted for the 2012 Kim Scott Walwyn Prize for Women in Publishing.

Works: Monday – Friday


Direct line: 01323 815161



Vashti Ballard, Development and Enterprises Assistant vashtistaffphoto

  • help administer Charleston’s donor circle, the Omega Group, and assisting with arranging exclusive visits for the group throughout the year
  • assist with arrangements for corporate supporters of the Charleston Festival and Small Wonder, including drinks receptions at the two festivals
  • undertake research and draft trust and foundation applications and reports for core funds
  • support the development of corporate partnerships and commercial opportunities

Vashti studied Photography at Falmouth University, where she began her first forays into fundraising, jointly organising a silent print auction as well as being involved in other crowdfunding activities. Since graduating in 2014, she has worked on commissions and her own work and travelled around Canada. With a background in the arts and customer service, she now works in the Development & Enterprises team at Charleston, helping to raise funds for the Trust’s core running costs. This involves compiling applications, researching new funding opportunities and assisting with the administration of Charleston’s donor circle, the Omega group, and its programme of events.

Vashti also looks after the online retail shop at Charleston, including new products and promotion.


Works: Monday- Wednesday




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.



The Charleston Trust also has internship schemes  and currently has a number of interns working in Public Programmes and Learning, Curatorial and Festivals activity. We also have a Digital Media Apprentice and a Garden Apprentice.


The Charleston Trust is also lucky to have a wonderful team of seasonal staff including Guides, Cafe Assistants and Retail Assistants.


We also are grateful for the in kind support of:

Mayer Brown International LLP, legal advice

Beryl Hobson, charity governance expert