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, Rausing Head of Collections, Research and Exhibitions

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 Rausing Head of Collections, Research and Exhibitions, 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


Julia Cooper, 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.

Julia attended  catering college in Brighton and trained for 3 years in both food preparation and restaurant management. After working in many different catering outlets across Sussex she decided to return to education to study Interior Design and this is where she fell in love with the Bloomsbury group and the Omega designs. When the opportunity of working at Charleston arose she grasped it with both hands.

Julia says, “Charleston combines my day-to-day job with my love of design and Artistic creativity. I feel inspired every time I’m here by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s bravely original interior design”.

Since coming to Charleston Julia has helped to transform the café menu by using the wonderful home grown produce in the Charleston garden as a core focus of the café menu.

Works: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday


Direct line: 01323 811626


Belinda Da Silva, Retail Manager

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


Fiona Dennis, Head Gardener 

  • Maintenance and management of the historic planting schemes
  • Developing garden policies and programmes that support an organic garden and Charleston’s environmental sustainability aims
  • Responsibility for garden contractors, staff,  interns, apprentices and volunteers

Fiona joined Charleston in March 2017. Formerly from English Heritage where she managed the Historic and Botanic Garden Bursary Scheme (HBGBS), a garden traineeship program for gardeners developing a career in historic gardens. Fiona worked with gardens all over the UK and is a passionate supporter of practical training for new horticulturists coming into the profession.

Fiona trained at Merrist Wood College, Surrey and began her career as a gardener with the Royal Parks. She became Propagator (Alpine and Herbaceous) at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and during this time gained her Masters in Horticulture. She has extensive overseas experience working with Botanic Gardens Conservation International, in support of which she attained an MSc in Plant Conservation Genetics. Previously an Advisor for the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley and now sits on the Royal Horticultural Society Bursaries Committee.

Works: Monday-Friday


Direct line: 07512624557 (mobile) or 01323 811626 (main office)



Tina Morris, Marketing and Communications Manager

  • 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

Works: Monday- Friday (9.30am-1.45pm)
Direct line: 01323 815143



Will Kemp,  Bookings and Online Retail Assistant

  • Coordinating the Box Office function for the May Festival and Small Wonder Short Story Festival and Public Programme of events and workshops, uploading bookings and events information onto the online ticketing system and website.
  • Actively manage the online shop site, ensuring that it is up-to-date in relation to stock levels and information.
  • Working with the Retail Manager and Marketing and Communications Manager on potential promotions and offers and ‘special occasion days’ purchases.
  • Organising and dispatching customer orders.
  • Assisting in receiving and booking in of new stock.

Will studied English and Comparative Literature and holds a masters from Goldsmith College, London, in Modern Literary Movements, where he focused on 20th century writers including Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka and Virginia Woolf. He has since produced arts and educational events in the Sussex area with MOOT – music of our time, Canto Song School, and worked for a season at Glyndebourne in their front-of-house team. Prior to joining Charleston, Will was a Programme Coordinator in the British Council’s Literature team, where he helped programme a range of international arts and festival events relating to Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary in 2016. He is a keen amateur violinist and writes poetry in his spare time.

Works: Monday- Thursday (9.30am-5.30pm)


Direct line: 01323 815152



Leah Romaniello, Visitor and Volunteer Manager

  • 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

Works: Wednesday- Sunday plus Bank Holiday Mondays


Direct line: 01323 815164



Melissa Perkins, Public Programmes and Learning Coordinator Melissa-3-e1410432049553-150x150

  • 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

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


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



Marilyn Chandler, Facilities Manager

  • The smooth running of the Charleston office facilities such as telephones, IT, photocopier
  • Management of the waste collection, heating, electricity of the Charleston site
  • Venue hire
  • Liaising with contractors, in particular for the Centenary Project

Marilyn has a degree in Design History from Brighton University, where she first became interested in Charleston, and considers it a privilege to work in such an inspiring place.

Works: Monday-Thursday (9am-2.30pm)


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



Charles Rowney, Temporary Finance Manager

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

Works: Monday-Friday


Direct line: 01323 815157


Judy Mackerras, Accounts Assistant

More details to follow…




Eleanor Crawforth, Head of  Enterprises  

  • Managing individual giving
  • Managing the Annual Fund
  • Managing  legacies
  • Strategic overview of the Charleston Enterprises including shop, online shop and café.

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 and Thursday


Direct line: 01323 815161


Susie Tempest, Head of Development

  • Fundraising for Charleston Festival and Small Wonder via corporates, sponsorship, individuals, advertising and trusts and foundations
  • Core fundraising via trusts and foundations (with the exception of learning and community applications
  • Management of the Omega Group
  • Overall strategic management of Friends membership


Susie has over 15 years of experience working in the tourism and communications industry, building key skills and competencies needed for effective fundraising. Prior to joining Charleston, Susie spent three years as the Head of PR and Communications at a tourism PR and marketing consultancy, 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 or the arts and literature.

Susie is a big fan of the diversity of Charleston and its House, Garden and Collection and the fact that it is so multifaceted. She also enjoys working with the variety of different staff at Charleston. Susie loves the outdoors and hence, the beautiful setting of Charleston in the South Downs National Park. In the summer months, she explores new cycle routes to work from her home in Brighton and she is currently learning how to play beach volleyball.


Works: Tuesday-Thursday


Direct line: 01323 815161




Vashti Ballard, Development and Memberships Coordinatorvashtistaffphoto


  • administration of the Friends of Charleston membership scheme and Omega group, Charleston’s patron membership group
  • 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, the Friends memberships group and its programme of events.

Works: Monday- Friday




Hilary Masters, Conservation Assistant

  • Taking an active role in monitoring the environmental control of the showrooms and the condition of all items
  • Maintaining records of conservation work
  • Supervising and mentoring Conservation Volunteers.
  • Assisting specialist conservation staff and other house staff with the packing up of the contents for reasons of re-display, maintenance or security and assist in the unpacking and re-instatement of the contents afterwards
  • Invigilating photoshoots in the house


Hilary went to Farnham Art College where Quentin Crisp was the ‘life model’ and David Hockney was a guest lecturer. After training as a secondary school ceramics teacher she went on to work at ‘Biba’ in Kensington High Street until it closed down.

After returning to teaching as a primary school teacher, Hilary then gained qualifications as a dyslexia specialist, going on to head a unit for dyslexic primary children and training teachers across Brighton & Hove. After some years as a primary school Senior Leader, Hilary left teaching to return to her artistic roots. Hilary has worked as a volunteer steward at Charleston before gaining the post of Conservation Assistant.

Works: Monday and Tuesday 9am-4pm, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 9am-12pm




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 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