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Thu 30 Apr 2020
Burton Constable Hall & Grounds - A Charity of Their Own
Joel Peart // Marketing & Events Manager
A closer insight to how, when & why Burton Constable became a charitable organisation.

It may come as a surprise to learn that Burton Constable Hall & Grounds are a charity. This is probably due to the association of grand Elizabethan stately homes and their many acres of surrounding parkland and lakes being directly linked with vast wealth. Such assumptions would be largely accurate...200 years ago. Nowadays, it’s not as affluent.


A Family Home 


Burton Constable has been home for the Constable family for over 700 years. It operated as a family home right up until the early 90s. Understandably, people, cultures and priorities change over time and it became clear that it was no longer viable for the family to maintain the property alone. 


Although the Constable family still own the surrounding agricultural estate and continue to live in the south wing of the house, it was clear a new sustainable future was required. 

Burton Constable’s Long-Term Future

After some decades of uncertainty, it was recognised that the future of Burton Constable would require significant support, along with a new vision. 

As a result, The Burton Constable Foundation was established in 1992, following negotiations between the Chichester-Constable family, the National Heritage Memorial Fund (which purchased the property and provided a generous endowment) and Leeds City Council (where the museum staff had many years of experience in looking after country houses with their collections). 

The Foundation would now run this large Elizabethan mansion and its surrounding parkland as a museum, with the mission to safeguard it for future generations. Burton Constable was  awarded Registered Museum status in 1995. 

The Aims of The Burton Constable Foundation 

From the outset, the purpose of the foundation was clear:

‘To nurture the cultural heritage of Burton Constable to promote learning, engagement and enjoyment for present and future generations.’

To fulfil this statement of purpose, a certain criteria was drawn up by the trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. 

  • The conservation & restoration of the house, contents and park.

  • Management of the house so that it can be an attractive and worthwhile place to visit.

  • To conserve the interiors and preserve the layers of history they represent rather than carry out wholesale refurbishment.

  • To maintain the connection of the Chichester-Constable family with the house. In particular showing the house as a home rather than a museum.

To achieve the above aims, the Burton Constable Foundation would have to increase public engagement, enhance its reputation and inspire staff and volunteers to work there. 

Fast forward almost 30 years and Burton Constable has welcomed thousands of visitors, held numerous magical events and created a community of members, workers and volunteers all immersed in the long-term ambition of keeping the doors open for many years to come. 

Is Burton Constable a Foundation or a Charity? 

By law, a charitable establishment must fall within the descriptions of the Charitable Act and be for the benefit of the public. 

A private foundation is a non-profit charity benefiting from grants whereas a public charity uses publicly-collected funds to directly support its initiatives. Burton Constable now falls under both of these remits, since the launch of the ‘Friends of Burton Constable’. 

The Burton Constable Foundation is a charitable trust, registered number 1010121. The Friends of Burton Constable are registered as a charity with the number 1079829.

Friends of Burton Constable 

In 1995, the Friends of Burton Constable registered charity was formed to support the Burton Constable Foundation in its development of Burton Constable Hall as a Country House Museum. 

One of the key fundamentals was, where appropriate and feasible, to offer financial assistance towards the funding of special projects or the purchase of particular artifacts significant to the Museum’s development. In turn, helping to stimulate public interest in history, the arts and sciences in relation to the hall and its past. 

Other objectives were outlined surrounding the promotion of cultural and educational events and to engage in or support research publishing, education, advertising and other charitable work. 

Friends Membership

The Burton Constable Friends Membership was initially launched to those actively interested in furthering the society’s objectives through an annual subscription. This included free and unlimited access to the Hall, Stables & Grounds, access to regular updates and newsletters, exclusive invitations to Friends events and the ability to cast votes at meetings regarding the future of the committee and its activities. 

Burton Constable now has gone on to secure over 500 members through the sale of Friends Passes. This, along with other fundraising activities, has contributed to projects such as the Grand Piano restoration, stair lift installation and a Defibrillator machine. These are all key fundamentals that allow Burton Constable to progress.  

Gift Aid

Due to the fact that the Foundation receives no regular funding. Admissions income and donations are essential to sustain and develop the house, grounds and collections. One recent development, in the form of Gift Aid, has helped generate a little extra income for the cause. 

As a registered charity, Burton Constable can claim an additional 25p of every pound donated or contributed to their community. 

Gift Aid does not cost an individual or establishment anything additional, when making a donation. It is claimed from HMRC at the basic rate of the tax donors pay. Simply, Gift Aid increases the value of donations by 25% and gives it back.

Burton Constable the Charity

Highlighting that Burton Constable is a registered charity is important, as it can often get lost and ignored among all of the grandeur.

The sole focus has always been to preserve and restore the precious premises for the general public’s enjoyment. The significance of our buildings and grounds are great heritage value.

The Hall is Grade I listed and there are no less than five other buildings or structures listed at Grade I or II* on the Estate. The park is listed as Grade II* on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. There are extensive areas of ridge and furrow within the parkland and a Deserted Medieval Village within the park is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the upkeep of all of this has its challenges. 

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of those in our communities and beyond who support us and help us to stay afloat!