Charleston: "We simply cannot afford to reopen this year”

Charleston’s director and chief executive Nathaniel Hepburn has warned there is still a long way to go before Charleston can reopen – and significant funds still to raise.

Tuesday, 7th July 2020, 11:55 am

The government allowed museums to open again on July 4; but Charleston won’t be joining them yet.

“The intimate experience of exploring the house’s interiors is something visitors normally cherish,” Nathaniel said.

“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.”

Nathaniel added: “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.”

Charleston is a house, garden and art gallery situated in the South Downs National Park.

From 1916, it was the home of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, who were key members of the Bloomsbury group.

Despite closure, the work will go on, as Nathaniel explains.

“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, September 25-27 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.”

CROWLINK with folk singer Shirley Collins, artist and writer Brian Catling, and sound artist Matthew Shaw will now take place on July 31 and August 1 2021.

Tickets are valid for the rescheduled dates, and all other event details remain the same.

For further details about the venue, visit