1980s to the present

Restoration and the opening of the Library

By 1987, when Richard Knight inherited, parts of the house were derelict, the roof leaked, timbers were rotting and the gardens were overgrown with scrub. The decline was halted in 1993 with the sale of a 125 year lease to a new charity, Chawton House Library, founded by the American entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sandy Lerner, via the charitable foundation established by her and her husband Leonard Bosack, the Leonard X. Bosack and Bette M. Kruger Foundation. The lease included the grade II* listed Chawton House and 275 acres of land. The Elizabethan stable block, already converted to a dwelling, was purchased outright. Following ten years of extensive restoration and repair work, the Great House reopened in July 2003 as Chawton House Library. The Library's remarkable collection of books, which focuses on women's writing in English from 1600 to 1830, was put together by Sandy Lerner and generously donated to the Library prior to its opening. Richard Knight, the current freeholder, remains actively involved in the project as a trustee.

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Chawton House

Chawton House as it stands today

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