Community Engagement Projects

New Queer Tour of the House 

Based on feedback we had from the LGBTQ+ community on our outreach projects, we created a new queer tour of the House at Charleston. Written and researched by experts and trialled by members of the LGBTQ+ Older People’s Project at Switchboard, the tour launched at Charleston on Saturday the 8th June at a Queer Bloomsbury event. Additional celebratory activities included a Bloomsbury-Group-inspired dressing up area with costumes from Gladrags in Brighton, a Wish Tree where people could tell us their queer wishes for Charleston, singing from Hannah Brackenbury and a panel-led conversation with Kathrine Smith, Nando Messias and KUCHENGA. This event was planned and delivered by Charleston’s LGBTQ+ Focus Group. 

Queer tours of the House are now available for group bookings

Charleston’s LGBTQ+ Focus Group
We recruited a group of 10 people from the LGBTQ+ outreach work that we have been doing. This group meets regularly. It’s purpose is to ensure that a queer voice informs everything we do here.

Charleston Drama Project

During April and May 2019, we returned to the Hillcrest Centre in Newhaven to deliver another Drama Project for people with learning disabilities. We used the paintings from Charleston’s collection as starting points to create short pieces of drama and dance. Some of the participants favourite paintings included “Queue at Lewes” by Vanessa Bell and “The Policeman” by George Bergen.

Please visit our blog to see what we got up too.

Black Gender Fluidity and Freedom

In February 2019 we held an immersive conversation at Charleston around the Coco Table in the new Threshing Barn, in partnership with Take The Space.

With guest speakers KUCHENGA and Bee Tajudeen, Zanele Muholi’s photographic exhibition ‘Faces and Phases’ was the backdrop to our conversation exploring blackness, gender fluidity and freedom of voice.

This is our Event record


Unexpected Delights

A group of 13 local LGBTQ+ people worked together at Charleston to explore the House, Garden, and surrounding South Downs landscape with photography and words. They created a beautifully imagined Zine. Participants worked together, facilitated by Mark Richardson, to draw inspiration from Charleston’s Small Wonder short story festival, the history of the Bloomsbury Group at Charleston and Orlando at the present time – the first exhibition in our newly-built galleries. They worked with invited queer writers Juliet Jacques, Shivanee Ramlochan and Neil Bartlett who talked about their creative processes. Please click on this link to read the Zine: Unexpected Delights Zine

Unexpected Delights Zine


Some members of this group will be joining others from the local LGBTQ+ community to create a new LGBTQ+ Forum that will advise Charleston on future planning and programming, to ensure that a queer voice is present and visible across all of our work here. Our first meeting will be in December 2018 in Lewes. Please contact Mark Richardson (details below) if you would like further information or would like to join this group.


The Stories of the Statues in the Garden

During October 2018, we worked with a group of 10 people with learning disabilities in Newhaven at The Hillcrest Centre on Thursday afternoons. We used the many statues that are around Charleston’s garden to create stories that we brought to life using dance and drama. The project culminated in a visit to Charleston, with a celebratory tea in the newly restored Threshing Barn.

Click here to see films and photographs from the project on our blog


Discover Charleston events

We have worked with groups from Brighton and Newhaven, offering them a Charleston visitor experience and asking them the question “How can Charleston be useful to you and your community?”. We have worked with the Older People’s Group from LGBT Switchboard in Brighton,  SEN Parent and Carers Support Network in Newhaven and Allsorts Youth Project in Brighton.

Switchboard’s Older People’s Project with Community Engagement Officer Mark Richardson

Past Community Engagement Projects at Charleston include:

  • Small Wonder Creative Writing – a project with hard to reach young people from Eastbourne funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England (2017)
  • Painted Furniture – a project with older people in Lewes funded by Garfield Weston Foundation (2016)
  • Ceramics in Nature – a ceramics project with isolated women from East Sussex funded by Garfield Weston Foundation (2016)
  • Healthy Walking – a walking and poetry project with people on low incomes from East Sussex funded by Garfield Weston Foundation (2016)
  • Painted Cows – a ceramics project with East Sussex Young Carers funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (2015)
  • Natural Garden Structures – a sculpture project with school children and members of the public attending Charleston (2015)

What's on

12 JulWorkshop
Planting a classic cottage garden

Award-winning designer Juliet Sargeant leads an inspirational day of planting design at Charleston.

01 AugMusic
CROWLINK | Shirley Collins

2021. Legendary folk singer Shirley Collins in a unique collaboration with Brian Catling and Matthew Shaw.

16 AugWorkshop
Planting and gardening on chalk

Join Juliet Sargeant to learn about all the chalk-loving plants at Charleston.

06 SepWorkshop
Painting in the Garden | Autumn

Join artist Julian Le Bas for a day’s intensive painting, and lose yourself in the atmosphere of the walled garden.

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