Looking towards the future

Last week the government announced that museums can open again on 4 July; but there is a long way to go before Charleston can reopen, and significant funds still to raise.

The intimate experience of exploring the house’s interiors is something visitors normally cherish; but small, heavily furnished rooms make it impossible to create a socially distanced experience that would be safe and enjoyable for our staff, volunteers, and visitors. We have explored all other options, including just opening our galleries, café and shop, but with significantly reduced visitor numbers we simply cannot afford to reopen this year.

Charleston has survived this crisis thanks to thousands of donations from around the world to our Emergency Appeal, grants from Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, everyone who donated their Charleston Festival Tickets, and the extraordinary endeavours of artist Emily Maude who has raised over £55,000 through an artists’ auction on Instagram. The decision to remain closed has not been an easy one, but will enable us to build a stronger, more beautiful, more resilient, and more sustainable Charleston for the future. 

While our doors are closed, we will continue to share Charleston’s house, garden and collections with our audiences digitally, and our online shop will remain open. Following the success of Charleston Festival at Home, we will deliver more digital programmes including a weekend of talks and events to mark Small Wonder Festival, 25-27 September 2020. We are also working to open our beautiful garden in July as a place of creativity and wellbeing. We will share the full details shortly so please keep an eye on our social feeds, website, and e-newsletter.   

Thank you for your continued support and patience as we continue to navigate these challenging times.


Nathaniel Hepburn

Director and Chief Executive, The Charleston Trust

A Garden of One’s Own

By Charleston’s Gardener, Harry Hoblyn

The walled garden in flower this summer. Photo © Harry Hoblyn.

The first weeks of June have finally brought us some rain; the sky undulating between an ominous spectral grey, and that bright-eyed, azure clarity so generous throughout the previous months. All this time I have been gardening in privileged, paradisiacal isolation, left for the most part to my own devices, nurturing a sanctuary that has seen few visitors.



At Charleston we’re thrilled to be named among the UK’s top places to visit by Lonely Planet in their #UltimateUKTravelist of the most memorable, beautiful, surprising and compelling experiences to be had across Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. 

Duncan Grant’s studio at Charleston © Electric Egg

The only complete preserved Bloomsbury interior in the world, Charleston’s individually designed and hand-painted rooms were inspired by Italian fresco painting and the Post-Impressionists. Visitors can take a tour around the unique spaces and explore the stories and lives of the artists, writers and thinkers who made it their home. Alongside the house, Charleston runs a programme of exhibitions, workshops, talks and events throughout the year, as well as a portfolio of literary festivals.

Charleston is one of just 34 attractions from the South East of England to make the Lonely Planet’s ‘Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist’.

The UK’s four constituent countries and countless small islands comprise a powerhouse of history, culture and intrigue. Now for the first time, Lonely Planet’s community of travel experts have chosen the best sights and experiences and ranked them in order of their brilliance in Lonely Planet’s ‘Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist’.

Lonely Planet’s VP of Experience, Tom Hall, said:

“Lonely Planet’s ‘Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist’ brings together the UK’s most compelling sights and experiences, ranging from world-class museums and giant cathedrals to rollicking festivals, inky lochs and tiny pubs.”

To create Lonely Planet’s ‘Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist’, the Lonely Planet team compiled every highlight from the Lonely Planet guidebooks for Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Every sight, attraction and experience that had caught their writers’ attention over the years were included. Everyone in Lonely Planet’s London office, plus 20 leading figures in the country’s travel sector, were then asked to reveal their favourite spots and experiences before the voting began. Everybody in Lonely Planet’s UK community was asked to vote for their top 20 experiences. With hundreds of votes cast, Lonely Planet ended up with a score for each of the 500 experiences in the book.