Charlton House transferred to new Heritage Trust

Charlton House
Charlton House

Yesterday brought an announcement from the council confirming that a number of local assets – including Charlton House – have been transferred into a new Heritage Trust.


The Royal Borough of Greenwich Heritage Trust has officially transferred services from the council and has begun its work to ensure the borough’s much-loved assets continue to be protected and enhanced for the benefit of residents.

The Trust has also officially registered with the Charity Commission.

Royal Greenwich has a wealth of heritage assets, ranging from buildings of great historical interest to war memorials. The not for profit trust will make it easier for residents to have a greater say in the futures of these buildings.

The Trust has been set up specifically to look after the buildings under its care. It will also make it easier to access different types of funding to help maintain and enhance the buildings. The Trust will be led by a Board of Trustees who have been recruited from various fields in Heritage and Architecture.

Some of the borough’s treasures will now be under the care of the trust including Charlton House, the Greenwich Heritage Centre and The Tudor Barn in Eltham.

The Trust will also take on a Custodian role in relation to some of the war memorials of Royal Greenwich, which means they will be first point of contact for enquiries relating to these.

Local war memorials are currently undergoing a programme of conservation and repair during the period of commemoration of the Great War. The programme will take place throughout 2014-2018.

Councillor Miranda Williams, Royal Borough of Greenwich cabinet member for Culture and Creative industries said:

“We are extremely proud of our historic and heritage legacy here in the Royal Borough. Not only are we honoured to have such a rich selection of historical buildings and memorials here, we know they are a huge asset to the borough in terms of attracting visitors from around the world.

“We welcome the establishment of a Heritage Trust which has been shown to work well in other parts of the country.

It should also make it easier to access different types of funding to help maintain and enhance our buildings.

We look forward to working with the Trust to both protect and enrich our heritage and to enable the local community to play an increased role in looking after and learning more about these historical buildings.”

Heritage Trust Trustee, Jonathan Louth said: “We would hope, there will be little change to the services people enjoy and we are keen to engage with the local community as we develop, as we believe their support is essential to our success”.

Trust Chief Executive, Tracy Stringfellow said: “As a Charity, fundraising will become easier and that is vital to the sustainability of heritage services like ours in these times of reduced central funding.”

A list of the trustees (which include Charlton ward councillors Miranda Williams and Gary Parker) can be found on the Charity Commission’s website.

After a period of uncertainty (and, in Charlton House’s case, dashed hopes of a stand-alone heritage trust), it’s good that this move is now out in the open. Few people would argue that Charlton House has been managed to its potential in recent years, and it’s possible to see that a change of management could be a very positive development (even if the council’s press release hardly zips with excitement).

Plenty of questions remain, though:
– exactly which assets are included in the Trust?
– what is the role of Greenwich Heritage Trading Ltd (company registration no. 09021486, incorporated 1 May 2014) in relation to the Trust?
– how will the Trust be scrutinised?
– who was included in the consultation (we understand that the Charlton Society weren’t involved, for example)?
– how exactly will residents ‘have a greater say in the futures of these buildings’?

Cllr Parker has indicated on Twitter that a new consultation will commence soon:

Hopefully the details of this process will be clear soon, and some answers to the questions above will emerge.

For Charlton House in particular it will be interesting to find out what will change day-to-day: what is the new management’s vision? Will there be better engagement with local residents? Can we look forward to an invigorated programme of events, a regularly updated website – or maybe even weekend opening for the tea rooms?

(Charlton House’s Twitter followers may have been bemused to see the account recently singing the praises of a ‘magical community venue for Sunday morning coffee’…in Dalston).

What direction would you like to see the Heritage Trust take with Charlton House? Let us know in the comments below (and we’ll pass on any details of the Trust’s consultation process as soon as we have them!).

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