Our Purpose

The Gilstrap Charity offers grant aid support to individuals, groups and organisations operating within the area of benefit of the Charity (defined as the town of Newark).

Whilst the Charity has broad charitable objectives it has resolved that priority will be given applications which most closely reflect the original purposes of the charity.

Accordingly applications are unlikely to receive favourable consideration unless they meet the following criteria:-

1.  The applications should promote education and understanding of historic buildings and/or other features of historic interest within the town of Newark and/or further the promotion of education and understanding of the history of Newark generally.


2.  The application should demonstrate a direct benefit to the community of Newark or to a section or sections of that community.

In addition applications are more likely to receive favourable consideration where:

1.  Match funding has already been obtained or is likely to be committed.


2.  Sustainable benefits can be demonstrated.


In 1883 Sir (then Mr.) William Gilstrap gave land in Castle Gate on trust to the Borough of Newark for the purposes of a library. He intended to give further land to the Charity but died before giving effect to that wish.

His successor, Lieutenant Colonel John McRae Gilstrap, subsequently conveyed five parcels of land to the Charity with the intention that the income should be applied to support the library.

Various parcels of land were then sold with a result that the only land remaining in the ownership of the Charity was 1.7 acres of land at Chestnut Avenue, Newark which is currently used as an open space/play area. This land has been allocated for residential development. The Charity is in the process of disposing of this parcel of land and will use the income generated from the capital receipt to further the objectives of the Charity.

In addition to giving Newark a new library, Sir William Gilstrap also gave the Borough of Newark additional land which currently comprises the Castle Grounds.

In 1884 the former Borough of Newark made a “one off” payment to the Charity of £1,200.00 to effectively buy out the Charity and to lay out the Castle Grounds as “public walks and pleasure grounds.” This was agreed and approved by Sir William Gilstrap.

In August 1990, following the relocation of the County Council library to alternative premises, the Charity Commission made a new scheme in respect of the Gilstrap Charity and the District Council was appointed Sole Trustee. The Scheme required that the former library building be used as “an educational centre for the purpose of advancing public knowledge and understanding of features of historic interest in the area of benefit” (the former Borough of Newark) as constituted in 1883.

On 5 March 2013 an amendment was made to the 1990 Scheme which enabled the District Council to sell or lease the building. The new scheme also extended the area of benefit of the charity to the Parish of Newark.

On 1 April 2013 the Charity leased the former library to Nottinghamshire County Council for a term of 7 years without exclusion of Landlord and Tenant Act rights.

It is anticipated that the County Council will seek a further renewal of the lease on the expiry of the existing term.

The Charity has retained possession of the public toilets located at the rear of the building. These are operated and managed by the District Council.


Councillor Mrs Rita Crowe

Mrs Rita Crowe

Rita Crowe lives locally and is married with two daughters. Following a career as a bank manager Rita currently serves as a town and district councillor for the Beacon Ward of Newark.

Other official roles held by Rita include being Newark Town Mayor in 2008 and more recently in 2017/18 and also Chairman of the District Council in 2014/15.

Rita has a wide range of interests and volunteers her time supporting many local clubs and societies. This includes being chair of Newark Operatic Society and Newark Twinning Association. Rita is the Honorary President of Newark and Sherwood Concert Band and Past President of Newark Rotary Club.

Councillor Keith Girling

Keith Girling

Originally from Nottingham Keith Girling moved to Newark in 1988 whilst still serving in the Grenadier Guards. He saw service in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Germany, Belize, Canada and the Gulf War (Desert Storm). As a Grenadier he also took part in many ceremonial duties including Trooping the Colour and mounting the guard at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, Windsor Castle and the Tower of London.

He has a wide variety of qualifications from a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare Instructor to a Driving Examiner. Since leaving the Grenadier Guards he has continued with his personal development gaining a diploma in Economic Development and Level 2 in Wines and Spirits and is a great believer in the benefits of training.

Now retired, he is a Newark Town, District and County Councillor with special responsibilities for Nottinghamshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny.

He lives with his partner Suzie and her 14-year-old twin boys, Josh and Sam. In his spare time he is the Chairman of the Newark Patriotic Fund, a local charity set up to look after our injured service personnel and their families, plays golf and has just taken up cycling.

Councillor Mathew Skinner

Mathew Skinner

Mathew is very proud to have always lived in Newark and in recent years represented the residents of Beacon Ward on both the Town and District Council.

The youngest of four children, his late father was a local bus driver and his mother worked at Newark Hospital as a nurse, later going on to work with those with learning disabilities.

Mathew was educated locally, having attended Lovers Lane Primary School and Magdalene and Magnus Secondary schools. He then went on to further study at Newark College.

Professionally, Mathew is a Business Manager for a merchant payment solutions company. Previously to that role, he took on several challenges and leadership roles at a large telecommunications company.

He lives locally with his wife, along with their three children. Outside of work, he is a keen supporter of Nottingham Forest and regularly enjoys both outdoor and indoor cycling.

Projects supported by the charity


Historic Re-Enactment Events

Committed up to a maximum of £7,000 for each event.

The charity has supported a number of historic re-enactment events at Newark Castle, The National Civil War Centre, Newark Market Place and Sconce and Devon Park.


Commemorative Blue Plaque

February 2016
 Awarded £400

The blue plaque can be seen at the former library and commemorates Sir William Gilstrap, the renowned Newark philanthropist, who originally established the Gilstrap Charity. The work and legacy of Sir William Gilstrap was remembered at a short ceremony during the unveiling of the plaque. In 1883, Sir William presented the building, a free public library, as a gift to the town in recognition of the great kindness shown to members of his family and to himself during his time in Newark in his early life.


The Road to Newark Castle Exhibition

October 2015
 Awarded funding up to £30k

The Road to Newark Castle Exhibition was opened in the Castle’s North West Tower in May 2016. This is an informative exhibition for visitors who want to find out more about King John and his links to Newark Castle.


Community Arts Project

July 2015
 Awarded £3.8k

Workshops lead by local artist Kerry O’Brien and Newark Castle warden Floss Newman, involved schools, 1st Coddington Brownies and Newark Young Archaeologists. The young people each learned about a part of Newark Castle’s history before creating colourful display banners with Kerry’s help. The banners are displayed at Newark Castle and represent the history of the Castle including the death of King John.



Applications for funding for events, projects or other initiatives taking place in 2019 should be submitted not later than 31st March 2019 and will be determined not later than 30th June 2019.

For events, projects or other initiatives taking place after 2019 applications should be submitted by 1st January and will be determined not later than 31st March.

Funding applications should be sent to the Clerk to the Gilstrap Charity at:

Castle House
Great North Road,
NG24 1BY

Or by email to clerk@thegilstrapcharity.org

not later than 1 January in any year.

It will be a condition of any grant funding awarded that:

1. Approval must be sought for any subsequent changes to the submitted project outline.
2. If any grant awarded is surplus to requirements this should be returned to the Charity.
3. If funding is awarded the applicant will be required to provide progress reports to the Trustees and a post event/project evaluation report.
4. The applicant will ensure that all necessary licences, consents and other approvals are obtained.
5. The grant must be spent within 12 months of being awarded.
6. Proof of expenditure will be required.

Please find attached link to the Background Information relating to Grant Awards and the Application for Grant Aid Support.