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Small Grant Scheme

The Trust operates a modest Small Grants Scheme funded from income from membership and activities. We aim to support the survey, repair, restoration, interpretation and promotion of (and in some circumstances new initiatives in) Sussex’s designed parks, gardens and open spaces.

Our Focus: While our general criteria are not likely to change, our focus from time to time does, to reflect changing needs of Sussex’s park and garden heritage. Currently we are focusing on parks and gardens in public or community ownership or management, particularly in urban areas, as we are acutely aware of the pressures on local authority budgets in parks and recreation or leisure departments.

Value of our grants: We will only be able to help with small sums (our maximum grant is normally £1k, (many are much smaller) but our contribution can be added to other funding resources - or may indeed help to lever them!

Help in kind: We are also able to help in kind with advice and guidance on creating, managing and organising a project and on many aspects of researching park and garden history. We are keen to work in partnership with local authorities, community organisations and charitable trusts as some of the examples in our past projects portfolio show. You can visit the sites when they are open to the public (being open for a minimum of 10 days a year is one of our conditions of grant-aid)

Criteria for applying

Our criteria are designed to invite a wide range of projects related to the health and well-being of Sussex parks and gardens; we would welcome applications which meet the following criteria:

    • Help keep the physical park and garden heritage of Sussex in good repair for future generations to enjoy.
    • Help in undertaking surveys, research and publications related to Sussex parks and gardens that will widen knowledge and understanding of, and inform the repair of, that heritage.
    • Help, through encouraging the interpretation of parks and gardens through educational material and activity, to promote greater public knowledge, understanding, enjoyment and care of that heritage.
    • Assist in the creation of new park and garden features where these will have maximum public benefit.

How to Apply

For full details of eligible works and conditions of grant, download our application form: Application form (Word)  or Application form (pdf)


Details of grants made over the past  15 years are shown at the bottom of this page.

Case Studies

Lancing Sensory Garden


In 2013 we aided a community garden which was also built on a neglected plot of land - in the centre of Lancing. The garden was created, constructed and funded by the local community through workshops. SGT gave a grant of £350 towards the planting and mulching – which included a centrally-planted apple tree (as illustrated).
Lancing Sensory Garden 2         Lancing Sensory Garden


This new urban garden was so successful it won both the South Zone Environment and Culture Category in the ‘Towns Alive’ Awards 2013 and one of the four regional final places in the Society of Garden Designers award in the "Community Design" category. The ‘Towns Alive’ judges commented that “with hyper-local sourcing, real community ownership and a pride in high quality design and delivery this project shows how communities can make ambitious changes to their public realm.”


St Mary's Bramber

St. Mary’s House, Bramber, West Sussex, is a distinguished Grade I medieval pilgrim inn, one of only three in the country, and has officially been described as “the best example of late fifteenth-century timber-framing in Sussex”. It also features in Sir Simon Jenkins recent book England’s Thousand Best Houses, where it is handsomely described as “a shrine to the medieval in Sussex”. One of the most interesting owners of St. Mary’s House was the Hon. Algernon Bourke, second son of the Earl of Mayo, Viceroy of India. He and his wife Gwendolen were the inspiration for the eponymous characters in Oscar Wilde’s witty play The Importance of Being Earnest. It was Algernon Bourke who, in the 1890’s, laid out the Kitchen and Pleasure Gardens; also during their time, a new west wing and the elegant Music Room were built. The gardens would have provided flowers and vegetables for the house.

In 1944, St. Mary’s, threatened with demolition, was rescued at the eleventh hour by Dorothy Ellis, who devoted 35 years of her life to the house. However, financial constraints forced her to sell Bourke’s Victorian Kitchen and Pleasure Gardens. From 1984, the house and the surviving gardens were once again saved and restored for the public to enjoy by the present owners, Peter Thorogood and Roger Linton.

St Marys Bramber - Stove House and pineapple pits after restoration part funded by SGT w325

It had long been the wish of the owners to retrieve these ‘Lost Gardens’ and to return them to St. Mary’s. In 1997, an opportunity arose when the gardens were put up for sale, and thanks to temporary loans, the purchase of Bourke’s old gardens and gardener’s cottage was secured. Following this successful rescue, the owners were faced with a picture of dereliction and neglect. The gardens had remained ‘asleep’ for some fifty years and had become overgrown with an impenetrable jungle of brambles, nettles and saplings. One of the three Victorian glasshouses had survived intact as had the magnificent 140 foot fruit wall, the rare circular orchard, the heated pits with their stove-house, and the Boulton and Paul potting shed with its apple store.

In 2006 the Trust offered small grant funding of £1000 towards the repair of this stove house and associated pits in the Victorian part-walled vegetable garden of St Mary’s, Bramber.

It is rewarding to see that the restoration of the Victorian garden is complete, and many more areas of the whole garden repaired and replanted. Visit St Mary's Bramber to see for yourself! 

Charleston Farmhouse

Charleston Farmhouse pond and tilesIn 2008 the Charleston Trust applied to SGT for funds to help restore this formal pool.

The pool is edged with unique tiles decorated by Quentin Bell and had, for some time, been leaking badly. This meant that the water level regularly fell below the edge of the tiles, and so the pool was in urgent need of relining. At the same time the Trust wanted to produce some facsimile tiles to replace those that had been damaged or broken by frost as well as any that might be harmed as a result of the work to repair the pool itself.

With financial help from SGT, facsimiles of the original tiles were made by the potter Vicki Walton who had worked alongside Quentin Bell as his pottery assistant. Now working in France, Vicki produced a number of trial batches which were carefully compared with the originals. Once a close match was achieved in terms of background colour, glaze and paint handling, she was commissioned to produce a batch for the entire surround.

The pond has now been faithfully restored - find out more by clicking here Charleston Formal Pool

Current Project - Preston Manor Walled Kitchen Garden

Preston Manor Walled Garden - strip w 650 

As you can see from the photos above, the kitchen garden at Preston Manor, Brighton, is in a very poor state of repair. SGT is working to help the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership and other organisations to find a way to restore the garden. More information about this project can be found by downloading this document Preston Manor Walled Kitchen Garden Project.

Small Grant Scheme Awards 2004 to 2019

Year Site

Grant given


Works grant-aided and remarks

Various sites in Sussex asociated with Gertrude Jekyll

Gross grant


less contribtion to SGT restricted to this project


Net grant from unrestricted SGT funds











During 2019, SGT worked in partnership with conservation architect Michael Edwards and the Woodger Trust on a project to create digital copies of original paper documents held in the Getrude Jekyll achive. The achive is held at The Environmental Design Archives (EDA), University of California, Berkeley, USA and the scope of the project included the scanning, indexing of the records and adding them to the EDA website so they can be accessed by the general public. For more information see links below.

Jekyll archive at EDA

article in SGT Newsletter no 75 (Autumn 2019)

2014 Bohemia walled garden, Hastings £1,000 £1k grant given to Friends of Bohemia walled Garden to pay for a marquee structure for education and community events erected Sept 2014
2013 Preston Park Walled Garden £1,000 Survey and conservation statement work to surrounding flint walls to inform repairs; completed July 2013 £1k paid to architect fees
2012 Backlands School Hastings £1,000 Shed for new school garden
2012 Wenceling community garden Worthing £350 Grant given towards community garden planting in late 2012, paid out April 2013
2011 Five Great Sussex gardens £500 Five Great Sussex Gardens and their owners: a new booklet published in 2011 as a collaborative project between five of our great gardens which tells the story of Borde Hill, Nymans, The High Beeches, Leonardslee and Wakehurst Place.
2010 Charleston Farmhouse £350 Towards restoration of the tiling around the pond in the garden; part of overall garden restoration; acknowledgement 
2009 Brunswick Square Gardens £1,000 Replanting elements of the C19 layout. Total cost £10k (BHCC); summary of the historic development of the square and a rationale prepared by SGT.
2008 Chelwood Vachery £1,000 Contribution to management plan for restoration of water gardens. Extensive SGP advice.
2006 St. Mary’s Bramber £1,000 Repair of two structures within the walled garden (stove house and heated frames, which had been in working order until the 1940s) total cost estimate of £4,500.
2005 High Beeches Garden £500 Contribution to souvenir guidebook.
Total   £8,650