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0333 700 4001

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Firle, Lewes, West Sussex

Charleston Trust

Project Objective


Appointed Civil Engineer, the Stilwell Partnership was pleased to have the opportunity to make a major contribution towards the success of the Centenary Project.

Our civil engineering services provided:

  • Detailed Highway Design
  • The design of the new access road to the new car park
  • The design of culverting work to the watercourse
  • A Flood Risk Assessment
  • Drainage design for new auditorium and building improvements
  • The assessment and specification of highway repairs to the existing concrete access road from the A27
  • The design of additional passing places to the existing concrete access road
  • The reinforcement of the embankment of the existing stream (using gabion structures) to accommodate the new passing places
  • The design of new car park for 70 cars
  • The design of a reinforced overflow car park on the existing field for a further 80 cars
  • The design of the new drainage system and drainage alterations associated with the above works

And included regular site attendance, supervision and negotiations with the contractors


Charleston is a 17th century Sussex farmhouse and the only surviving example of complete interiors by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, part of the Bloomsbury group. Following Grant’s death in 1978, the house fell into disrepair.

The Charleston Trust was established to restore the house to its original condition. In 2011 the Trust launched the £8.5m Centenary Project to safeguard the future of Charleston House.

By improving access and parking for an increased number of visitors, the civil engineering improvements would establish a sustainable future for Charleston House whilst reinstating the integrity of its distinctive setting within the South Downs.

Project Description:

The Centenary Project included the restoration of two Grade II listed barns to provide a new auditorium and public space together with improvements to the café, office and toilets.

The Stilwell Partnership were appointed Civil Engineer by the Trust to engineer sympathetic design solutions for the site.

The existing site access was narrow, in very poor condition and the proximity to the adjacent watercourse limited the available passing places. The watercourse would require bridging for a new access road which would divert traffic away from the centre of the site to a new car park, hidden from view.

An overflow car park would also be provided, discretely, in a field nearby. Geotechnical conditions required careful consideration to develop sustainable drainage solutions for the site. The improvements would also need to satisfy the requirements of the Highway Authority and the Environment Agency.


  • Charleston Trust


Firle, Lewes, West Sussex

Project completed:

Due for completion in late December/ early January 2017

Contact Us:

0333 700 4001