Our Founding Patron, Dr Sandy Lerner OBE, took the decision late last year to step down from our Board of Trustees, and to cease funding Chawton House Library from 2018 onwards. Dr Lerner’s support through her foundation the Bosack Kruger Foundation has previously funded approximately 65% of our operating costs and, now that this relationship is coming to an end, the organisation is facing significant challenges.
As a result, the Charity is currently undertaking a strategic review, with a clear focus on reshaping the organisation and creating resilience. We are confident that we can become financially self-sustaining in the long term, and have exciting and ambitious plans to achieve this. However, these plans will require major capital funding to expand and improve our facilities, and subsequently we will need to concentrate all of our efforts on planning and fundraising over the next few years.
During this transitional phase, the Charity will need to make hard decisions to ensure the overall survival of the organisation, by cutting back on any activities or programmes which are not a vital part of our mission in going forward. We have loved having Shire horses on our estate, but their upkeep is particularly expensive. The Charity is first and foremost an important historic, cultural and literary landmark, and our priority must be towards securing the house and library for future generations. We have therefore taken the difficult decision to suspend the Shire horse programme, and look to find our four horses excellent homes elsewhere.
Angela MacLaren – our Head Horseman – has been a valued member of the Chawton House Library team for over a decade. Sadly, as a result of the decision to rehome our Shire Horses, Angela’s position – and the position of her assistant horseman Michael Harris – has been made redundant from the end of September. The team are currently working hard to ensure that each horse has the right home to go to, and we wish them all the very best for the future.