The Bloomsbury group included some of the twentieth century’s most pioneering artists, writers and thinkers – people who believed in debate, creativity, beauty, innovation and truth and whose work was guided by a sense of fun, freedom and irreverence. At Charleston we aim to further the Bloomsbury group’s experimentalism, internationalism and anti-establishment approach, their new ideals for living and belief that the arts and freedom of expression are fundamental.
A visit to Charleston is a liberating experience. The presence of Charleston’s Bloomsbury group occupants is still palpable today, as is their art, and the ideas that, from the rural tranquillity of the South Downs, helped to shape our society.
The decorated interiors and artists’ garden are more than a museum. Charleston’s entire cultural programme remains true to its origins whilst encouraging contemporary creativity.
We offer a haven for curious minds to immerse themselves in new ideas and provide an open door to explore personal freedoms and engage in Charleston’s multi-faceted heritage. Our world-leading collection of Bloomsbury art and archives is a beacon of excellence in conservation and interpretation that is open to everyone. Today Charleston is both daring and accessible.
Our talented staff and volunteers use their own creativity and experience to make Charleston a living experience for all. We support community learning and engagement; we commission contemporary artists, writers and thinkers to share new ideas in the spirit of Charleston’s Bloomsbury group inhabitants; and we aim to provide a life-enhancing environment for debate, creativity and excitement.
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 to help them learn about Charleston and Bloomsbury. The house opens every year between March 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, The Charleston Festival in May and Small Wonder – 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. Find out more about The Charleston Trust.
Charleston became an Arts Council England Accredited Museum in December 2013.
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. Find out more about Charleston Centenary Project.