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.
The County Council sought a renewal of the lease in 2020 which was granted for a further 7 years.
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. An external organisation is contracted for the cleaning of the toilets.