Open today 11:30am–5:30pm
Buy tickets

Nathaniel Hepburn is appointed as the new Director of Charleston

Nathaniel Hepburn - Director of Charleston

Nathaniel Hepburn – Director of Charleston

The Charleston Trust has today announced that Nathaniel Hepburn has been appointed to the position of Director (Chief Executive) of Charleston, succeeding Alistair Burtenshaw after almost 5-years of leadership. We would like to thank Alistair for his tireless efforts in bringing to fruition the long-awaited Centenary Project, and we wish him well in his new role as Director of Watts Gallery Trust in Surrey. Nathaniel will take up his new position in October 2017.

Professor Michael Farthing, Chair of Trustees at Charleston, said:
“We are delighted that Nathaniel will be joining us at Charleston in October. He is an experienced museum director and curator and has already worked closely with Charleston in the collaboration, Sussex Modernism, earlier this year. The Trustees were confident during the appointment process that Nathaniel has the vision, ambition and energy to take Charleston to the next exciting stage of its development.” 

In his three years as Director of Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, and previous 10 years as Curator of Mascalls Gallery in Kent, Nathaniel Hepburn has established a reputation for programming a diverse range of high-quality exhibitions developing a specialism in Modern British Art. Nathaniel has curated over 50 exhibitions which have been shown at some of the best museums and galleries across the country including Barbara Hepworth: The Hospital Drawings (with The Hepworth Wakefield and Pallant House Gallery), William Gear (with Towner, Eastbourne and City Art Centre, Edinburgh) and Cedric Morris & Christopher Wood (with Norwich Castle Museum and Falmouth Art Gallery). At Ditchling, this has extended beyond exhibitions to include developing the exciting Big Steam Print and The Village of Type programme, introducing a programme of residencies for artists, makers, designers and writers, as well as leading the nine Sussex museums and galleries, including Charleston, in bringing Sussex Modernism to Two Temple Place.

Nathaniel also was the recipient of the ‘Businessperson of the Year’ at the Lewes District Business Awards 2017 last night.

Nathaniel Hepburn said:
“Charleston is one of the world’s most important artists’ homes and, in itself, a real work of art. I am honoured to take up the baton to work with Charleston’s staff and Trustee team to preserve and share this treasure. I am similarly thrilled to have the opportunity the new buildings offer us to develop a wide-ranging and world-class programme of exhibitions, talks, events and residencies, as well as a learning programme which shares Charleston with future generations who will love and be inspired by this remarkable Bloomsbury home in the way that I and so many others do.”
During 2018, Charleston will open the latest phase of the ambitious Centenary Project with a large and flexible barn for diverse artistic, literary and arts programming, a new 80-100 seater café and restaurant and beautiful purpose-built new galleries, collection store and archives by Jamie Fobert Architects. The final stage of the capital development, the development of a purpose-built Learning Studio as well as refurbishment of offices and retail spaces, will be completed in the coming years subject to funding.
Notes to editors
Situated in the heart of the South Downs, Charleston was the home of Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Pioneers of early 20th century British art, Bell and Grant created a hub of artistic and intellectual activity at Charleston with visitors including Virginia and Leonard Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E.M. Forster and many others. Charleston is a unique example of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s decorative style within a domestic context and represents the fruition of over sixty years of artistic creativity, from 1916 to 1978.Media Enquiries:
Tina Morris
Marketing and Communications Manager
+44 (0) 1323 815152

Julian Fellowes guest of honour

Julian Fellowes guest of honour to mark collaboration with Charleston Library Society (South Carolina)

Press Release : Famed ‘Downton Abbey’ Creator Julian Fellowes Coming to Charleston in January for Charleston Library Society Special Event Series


 Marks launch of international collaboration between Charleston Library Society and Charleston Trust U.K.

 CHARLESTON, S.C., Dec. X, 2016 – The Charleston Library Society and The Charleston Trust U.K. will host Oscar and Emmy-winning writer Julian Fellowes, the creator of “Downton Abbey” and a best selling novelist as the guest of honor at a series of special events in January.

 An Evening with Julian Fellowes will be held at the historic Dock Street Theatre on January 11 from 6 – 8 p.m. during which Lord Fellowes will be interviewed onstage by former PBS president Ervin Duggan, a South Carolinian with deep family roots in Charleston. All proceeds from the evening will help fund the future Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival, a new cultural attraction debuting November 2017, modeled on and formed in collaboration with Charleston, Sussex, home to the Charleston Festival, one of England’s premier literary events.

“We are thrilled to welcome Julian Fellowes to Charleston, and to kick off our partnership with the Charleston Trust,” said Anne Cleveland, executive director of the Charleston Library Society. “This special event series leading up to the debut of the Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival supports the Library Society’s mission of advancing cultural and literary initiatives while providing a setting for likeminded individuals to connect and engage with literature, history, culture and music in Charleston.”

A Literary Luncheon and Intimate Conversation with Julian Fellowes & William Nicholson will be held the following afternoon at the Charleston Library Society at 12:30 p.m. Fellowes will be joined by William Nicholson, a British screenwriter, playwright and novelist who has been nominated twice for an Oscar. The two will discuss past and future works while being interviewed by Michael Farthing, Chair of the Charleston Trust U.K. Fellowes and Nicholson both attended Cambridge at the end of the 1960s.

Event Details

An Evening with Julian Fellowes

  • Wednesday, January 11, 2017
  • 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Dock Street Theatre
  • For tickets, click here or call 843-723-9912

Literary Luncheon with Julian Fellowes & William Nicholson

  • Thursday, January 12, 2017
  • 12:30 – 2 p.m.
  • The Charleston Library Society
  • For tickets, click here or call 843-723-9912

About the Charleston Library Society

The Charleston Library Society is the South’s oldest cultural institution and the second oldest circulating library in the United States. Since its founding in 1748, the Library Society has been a private lending library and is currently one of 16 such libraries in the country. The Library Society is a cultural institution for life-long learning, serving its members, the Lowcountry community and scholars through access to its rich collection of books, manuscripts and archival material and programs promoting discussion and understanding of the ideas they contain. For more information, visit


Julian Fellowes  is creator, sole writer, and executive producer of the worldwide television series Downton Abbey, which has received 69 Emmy Award nominations; winning 15, including writing and Outstanding Miniseries or Movie for Fellowes.  His theatre writing credits are School of Rock – The Musical (Broadway/Tony Award nominee, Best Book, West End), Mary Poppins (West End, Broadway/Drama Desk nominee, Best Book), Half a Sixpence (Chichester Festival Theatre, West End), The Wind in the Willows (UK Fall 2016, West End opening June 2017).  His film writing credits are Gosford Park (Academy Award winner, Original Screenplay), Vanity Fair, Piccadilly Jim, Separate Lies (National Board of Review Directorial Debut Award), From Time to Time (Directed, Best Picture – Chicago Children’s Film Festival and Fiuggi Family Festival in Rome, Youth Jury Award – Seattle International Film Festival, Young Jury Award – Cinemagic in Belfast), The Young Victoria, The Tourist and Romeo & Juliet. His television writing credits include Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Prince and the Pauper, Titanic (miniseries), Doctor Thorne (miniseries).   He has authored the international bestselling novels Snobs, Past Imperfect and most recently Belgravia; the children’s book The Curious Adventures of the Abandoned Toys and Downton Abbey scripts. Fellowes is also a screen and stage actor.  He and his wife, Emma, live in London and Dorset, England.  They have a son, Peregrine


Media Contact

Hannah Nuccio

Lou Hammond Group

Charleston’s Iconic Painted Surfaces – Saved!

Three months ago we set out to raise £25,000, money that would help restore some of Charleston’s wonderful painted interiors. Thanks to generosity of all of our donors we achieved 130% of our target, an incredible £32,554.

In conjunction with the Art Fund and their #arthappens crowd funding platform, several levels of donation ranging from £5 to £995 were available. In return, supporters will receive rewards which range from postcard sets with Charleston’s iconic design motifs to mounted fragments of wallpaper from the Library to an exclusive patterned scarf and tote bag designed by Cressida Bell. Vanessa Bell’s granddaughter.

The key restoration work can now be carried out by March 2016 and will include the paintwork around the window in the Spare Room, the wallpaper in the Library and the Vanessa Bell painted doors in the House Kitchen.  The additional money will all go to ensuring that the restoration, decorations and collection are kept in the best possible condition by the installation of a new state-of-the-art climate control and monitoring system.

Alistair Burtenshaw, Director of The Charleston Trust said

“The Art Fund were tremendously supportive, and we are delighted that the Charleston campaign was their most successful to date, with the largest number of donors and largest percentage of target exceeded to date on the Art Happens platform.  Proving that Charleston and its appeal is as relevant as ever.”

Nigel Newton, Chairman of The Charleston Trust said

“This crowd funding campaign in conjunction with the Art Fund was a new initiative to find new supporters for Charleston. We are thrilled that the campaign exceeded its target. I am particularly grateful to Margaret Atwood for pointing us in the direction of crowdfunding in a conversation we had following her event at the Small Wonder Short Story Festival at Charleston a year ago. We hope to continue to inspire visitors to Charleston with its fine art for generations to come, particularly in our centenary year of 2016 when this restoration work will be completed.”

Carolyn Young, Director of Marketing, the Art Fund, said

Charleston were fantastic to work with on this project and we are over the moon that they not only smashed their target so impressively, but also were able to raise extra funds towards further protecting the building’s extraordinary painted surfaces.  The demand and interest in the project is testament to how crowdfunding can be an excellent fundraising tool for museums, and a huge thank you must go to Charleston’s supporters, and other art-loving members of the public who all so generously supported this campaign.”

Fashion label Burberry credits Charleston as the inspiration behind its autumn/winter 2014 collection, the Bloomsbury Girls, and this summer, BBC2 broadcast a three-part series, Life in Squares. Filmed partly at Charleston, Life in Squares tells the story of Vanessa Bell and her sister, the writer Virginia Woolf, and has brought record numbers of visitors to Charleston this summer.

The Charleston Trust would also like to thank the broadcaster Jon Snow who helped Charleston and the Art Fund launch the crowd funding campaign in July to help restore these key painted surfaces in the House – the only complete Bloomsbury interior in the world – which are in desperate need of restoration and conservation.

Charleston continues to be a hub of creativity and artistic inspiration for the thousands of visitors and contributors each year.  The House and Gardens are open to the public until 1 November 2015 and re-open to the public on the 23 March 2016 for its centenary year, when the restored decorated interiors will be on full display.

For more details on the project, rewards and the restoration project updates this winter – visit:

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall hosts reception for Charleston guests

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall hosted a reception for supporters of Charleston Trust’s Centenary Appeal at her London home, Clarence House, on the evening of Tuesday 27 January.

Guests included Hannah Rothschild, Dame Eileen Atkins, The Marques & Marchioness of Abergavenny, Jane Ashley, Earl & Countess De La Warr, Viscount & Viscountess Gage and writers Juliet Nicolson and Henrietta Garnett, together with the Trust’s Chairman, Nigel Newton, Founder and CEO of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc and Virginia Nicholson, social historian and granddaughter of Vanessa Bell, who is Deputy Chairman of the Trust.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and Virginia Nicholson with Still Life with Matisse, 1971 by Duncan Grant from the Clarence House private collection  (c) Ian Jones Photography

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and Virginia Nicholson with Still Life with Matisse, 1971 by Duncan Grant from the Clarence House private collection (c) Ian Jones Photography

 Charleston guests at Clarence House (c) Ian Jones Photography

Charleston guests at Clarence House (c) Ian Jones Photography

The reception was in aid of The Charleston Centenary Project, which next year celebrates the 100th anniversary of artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell’s arrival at Charleston in 1916. The appeal aims to raise £7m to help protect Charleston, an award winning independent museum based in East Sussex, which is the last known complete Bloomsbury interior. The appeal will also allow for enhanced facilities for Charleston’s existing activities including the building of a new exhibition gallery, an auditorium and performance space in the restored barns, a creative learning studio in the reconstructed Granary and much needed new visitor facilities.

In his speech, Nigel Newton, Chairman of The Charleston Trust said I would like to thank Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, for hosting this wonderful evening for us. We are thrilled Her Royal Highness agreed to become the first Patron of The Charleston Trust and is championing our Centenary Project. This vital £7m development (of which nearly £5m has already been pledged and donated) will see the construction of a new Exhibition Gallery, a Collections Store and a Research Studio. Two Grade II listed barns will be restored and used as versatile performance spaces, and an old granary will be rebuilt to house our Creative Learning Studio.The Centenary Project will bring much-needed sustainability to Charleston, allow us to be more self-sufficient and help Charleston become a living artistic environment; one that is dedicated to originality in art, colour and design.”

 HRH The Duchess of Cornwall with Charleston guests (c) Ian Jones Photography

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall with Charleston guests (c) Ian Jones Photography

St Paul’s Cathedral, 1947 by Duncan Grant from the Clarence House private collection. © Ian Jones Photography

St Paul’s Cathedral, 1947 by Duncan Grant from the Clarence House private collection. © Ian Jones Photography

Speaking about the event, Alistair Burtenshaw, Director at The Charleston Trust said “We are grateful to HRH The Duchess of Cornwall for so kindly hosting this wonderful reception which so perfectly brought together friends and supporters of Charleston from around the world.”

How to read a Short Story : Olivia Williams

Olivia Williams read at our Small Wonder festival on 2014 – read her thoughts on the art of reading a short story out loud…  [Telegraph, 12.10.14]


Jonathan Coe in The Argus for Small Wonder Festival

Click on the image below to read more…

Rob Ryan exhibition in Prima

Our Rob Ryan exhibition in the Charleston Gallery is number one “brilliant” thing to do this month according to Prima

Annie Leibovitz in the Observer

Annie Leibovitz at Charleston Festival and Gallery in the Observer – New Review

Charleston in Artists & Illustrators Magazine

Click here to read the full article…

Beautiful items from the Charleston Shop in Ideal Home magazine

Quentin Bell, Rob Ryan and Staffordshire in the Decorative Arts Journal

Click here to read the full article in the Decorative Arts Journal…

Charleston Festival in The Week

Click here to read about the Charleston Festival in The Week…

Forthcoming auction at Gorringes in Lewes

Sale of Private Collection of Bloomsbury Paintings at Gorringes aims to raise over £11,000 in support of Charleston

A private collection of Bloomsbury paintings is to be sold on behalf of the Charleston Trust at Gorringes Auctioneers on 8th September. Featuring works by Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Roger Fry and Angelica Garnett, the pictures have been donated to the Trust to raise funds for the ongoing conservation and running of the house museum as it embarks on a major development project.


American Vogue features Bloomsbury stationery

page from American VogueCrop of American Vogue feature on Bloomsbury Stationery by Anna Fewster

Charleston Director interviewed

Falmer Magazine Interview with Director Colin McKenzie:

Country Living Editor picks Charleston

Country Living’s Editor Susy Smith picks Charleston as her special place:’s-special-places/event

Ravilious exhibition mention

Our Ravilious exhibition mentioned in Sussex Life: