New website to promote Newark philanthropist’s charity

28 December 2018

A new website went live today (Friday, December 28) to promote the work of a Newark charity set up to benefit the people of the town.

The Gilstrap Charity, a legacy of the 19th philanthropist Sir William Gilstrap, aims to support individuals, groups and local organisations with grant aid towards sustainable projects.

Online information is now available on its history, aims and purpose in addition to details of projects it has supported in the past and how to apply for grants.

Among the activities the charity has supported financially are historical re-enactments and living history events which have been held at Newark Castle. In 2016, the 800th anniversary of the death of King John, the castle – with trust funding – hosted a dramatic recreation of the events leading up to the monarch’s demise.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Councillor David Payne said: “Historically, Sir William made an important contribution to the town and this continues to this day through the work of the charity. We would welcome applications to help finance projects that mark the history of the town and enrich the lives of local residents.”

Newark and Sherwood District Council was appointed the sole trustee of the charity by the Charity Commission in 1990.

The work and legacy of Sir William was remembered last year (2017) when a commemorative blue plaque was unveiled at the Grade II listed Gilstrap Building.  The building, which is located in grounds of the castle, is now leased by the district council to Nottinghamshire County Council which operates a Register Office where weddings and civil partnership ceremonies now take place.

It was originally built as a library and presented as a gift to the town by Sir William in 1883 in recognition of the kindness shown to members of his family and to himself during his time in Newark in his early life. Sir William bore the £10,000 cost of the library, equivalent in today’s values to circa £2.5 million, himself.

He also offered financial support, among a number of other projects, to building a hospital in Newark and in 1887, in official recognition of his work, he was awarded a baronetcy in Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Honours List.

In his early life Sir William attended local schools before taking up work in his father’s wine and spirits importing business as well as helping to run a hotel, trading as Joseph and William Gilstrap.

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