The Charleston Trust

Background and history to Charleston and what we do now.

Charleston is a seventeenth century Sussex farmhouse that, from 1916, was the home of two of the most important, influential artists of the twentieth century – Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.  It was the country retreat of the group of individuals known as Bloomsbury which included Vanessa Bell’s sister Virginia Woolf and husband Leonard Woolf, the economist John Maynard Keynes, the art critics Roger Fry and Clive Bell and the biographer Lytton Strachey.

After Duncan Grant’s death in 1978 the house fell into disrepair with many of its unique interior paintings and decorations deteriorating badly. The Charleston Trust, a registered charity formed in 1980, raised over  £1,000,000 to restore the house and in 1986 it opened its doors to the public.

Today, The Charleston Trust continues to manage and conserve Charleston for the benefit of the public and opens every year between April and November to around 35,000 Visitors.

Alongside this Charleston  runs a public programme of workshops, talks, walks and events as well as two literary Festivals, one in May and a short story festival in September.

The Charleston Trust does not receive any public funding and relies on the support it receives through the Friends of Charleston, Omega Group, and through continuous fundraising.


HRH The Duchess of Cornwall became the Trust’s first Patron in May 2013.


Charleston became an Arts Council England Accredited Museum in December 2013.


Charleston has been awarded;

TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2014

Visit England, Quality Rose 2014

Visit England, Hidden Gem 2014

Lewes District Business Award 2014 – ‘Best Place to Visit’ award


The Future of Charleston

Charleston is aiming to secure its future through the Charleston Centenary Project  providing its visitors with much needed additional facilities including an auditorium and extended café in the Grade II listed barns, a newly built Collections Store and Exhibition Gallery, a new road and car park taking traffic away from the heart of Charleston and a new Creative Learning Studio in the rebuilt Granary.


The Charleston Trust’s Plans for 2013-2017

Please download the Executive Summary of the Forward plan