Governance featured image

Compton Verney is governed by a Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees determines policy and, together with senior staff at Compton Verney, sets the strategic direction of Compton Verney. It oversees the management of the gallery, with the Trustees acting as guardians of the public interest.

The Board decides on resource allocations, it represents Compton Verney externally, and monitors the organisation’s performance against agreed objectives.

Role of the Trustees

As a charity, Compton Verney sets down guidelines for what is expected in Trustees’ conduct.

The statutory duties of a Trustee are:

  • To ensure that Compton Verney complies with its governing document, charity law, and any other relevant legislation or regulations
  • To ensure that Compton Verney pursues its objects as defined in its governing document
  • To ensure Compton Verney uses its resources exclusively in pursuance of its objects: Compton Verney must not spend money on activities which are not included in its own objects, no matter how worthwhile or charitable those activities are
  • To contribute actively to the Board’s role in giving firm strategic direction to the organisation, setting overall policy, defining goals and setting targets and evaluating performance against agreed targets
  • To safeguard the good name and values of Compton Verney
  • To ensure the effective and efficient administration of Compton Verney
  • To ensure the financial stability of Compton Verney
  • To protect and manage the property of the charity, ensuring the proper investment of the charity’s funds and the use of effective risk management processes
  • To appoint the chief executive officer and monitor his/her performance

Other duties

In addition to the above statutory duties, each Trustee should use their specific skills, knowledge or experience they have to help the Board of Trustees reach sound decisions. This may involve:

  • Scrutinising Board papers
  • Leading discussions
  • Focusing on key issues
  • Providing guidance on new initiatives
  • Other issues in which the Trustee has special expertise

Our Current Trustees

Penny Egan – Chair

Penny Egan recently retired as the Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission. She joined the Commission after stepping down as the Executive Director of the RSA where she was the first woman to have led the RSA in its 250-year history. Prior to this, Penny was Programme Development Director at the RSA. Her early career included the posts of Press and Publicity Officer at the Crafts Council, Press Officer to the Prime Minister and Press Officer at the V&A Museum.

Penny has held several non executive roles. She is a lay Member of Design Council at the University of Reading and a trustee of RSA Academies. Previously she has been the Chair of the Geffrye Museum (now called the Museum of the Home) a Lay Member of Council at the University of Warwick, Member of the Design, Trustee of DEMOS and Non-Executive Director of Wardour Publishing.

Penny received a CBE in 2013 in recognition for her contribution to international education.

Penny replaced Kirsten Suenson-Taylor as Chair of CVHT in 2020.

Dr Oliver Cox

Dr Oliver Cox is Heritage Engagement Fellow at the University of Oxford. He co-ordinates, supports and brokers collaborative research and engagement projects between the University of Oxford and external partners in the UK and international heritage sector, through enabling individual researchers, research groups, students and professional services to develop mutually-beneficial collaborations.

He is currently on secondment to the National Trust as British Academy Innovation Fellow. In August 2022 he will leave Oxford and the National Trust to join the V&A as Head of Academic Partnerships.

Oliver leads the TORCH Heritage Programme, is co-Lead of the Oxford University Heritage Network and part of the team delivering the University of Oxford’s strategic partnership with the National Trust. Oliver co-leads the Heritage Pathway Graduate Training Programme. Oliver is a historian by training, and received his undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Oxford. He first joined TORCH in 2013 as a Knowledge Exchange Fellow and went on to create the Thames Valley Country House Partnership.

Oliver co-supervises two D.Phil projects exploring the twentieth-century history of the country house; and two further D.Phil projects on the Court of George III and horseracing and the Victorian aristocracy. He teaches architectural history for the Faculty of History; co-convenes the Graduate Seminar in History, 1680-1850; and supervises relevant Undergraduate and Masters theses. He is a Faculty Member for Oxford Cultural Leaders and the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme.

Oliver’s recent publications include contributions to The Country House, Past, Present and Future: Great Houses of the British Isles, Sport and Leisure in the Irish and British Country House, along with journal articles exploring the politics of horseracing in eighteenth-century Britain, the importance of Jewish history to country house studies, and the challenges of interpreting eighteenth-century spaces for twenty-first century visitors.

Outside of Oxford, he was recently appointed by Her Majesty the Queen as a Trustee of the Churches Conservation Trust. He is also a Trustee of Compton Verney House Charity and The Walpole Society. He sits on the Advisory Group for ‘The Devonshire Inheritance: Unlocking the Cavendish Family Papers for Chatsworth House Trust. Until recently, Oliver also chaired the Digital, Learning and Skills Advisory Group for The Heritage Alliance and sat on Arts Council England’s Designation Panel.

Samantha Henney

Sam is an executive coach and commercial consultant with over 25 years’ experience in the cultural sector.  

She has held senior leadership positions and advised numerous arts and heritage organisations across the UK and internationally including the University of Oxford’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums, Walt Disney Theatrical Productions, the National Theatre on tour and Stage Entertainment as well as supported smaller community-based organisations.  

Following early career posts of Press Officer at English National Opera, ‘fixer’ for the London Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and tour guide at the National Theatre, Sam went on to develop the original campaigns for many award-winning musicals including Disney’s The Lion King and Mamma Mia!. before moving to Commercial Director roles at Stage Entertainment and the Bodleian Libraries.  Today she helps organisations to develop their branding, campaign planning, audience development, commercial strategy and financial sustainability.

Sam graduated in mathematics and music from the University of Kent.  She was appointed trustee at CVHC in 2018 and as a non-executive director of Compton Verney Enterprises Ltd in 2021.  

Paul Smith

Professor Paul Smith is director of Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  Prior to taking up the post at OUMNH he was head of the School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham but has worked in university museums for most of his career, starting at the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge before moving to the Geological Museum in Copenhagen.  At the University of Birmingham, Paul was curator, then director, of the Lapworth Museum of Geology before moving to Oxford in 2012.

He has wide-ranging research interests in the evolutionary origin of animals and the geology of Arctic areas, and has thirty years of expedition and field research experience in Greenland and Svalbard.  Within museums, he has particular interests in the application of digital technologies, the establishment of international partnerships to support natural history research and education, and public engagement in contemporary science issues.

Paul is currently co-chair of University Museums Group UK and president of the Palaeontological Association.

Peter Wilson

Peter has a degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University. After two years working in industry he joined the Tate Gallery to train in art conservation before becoming involved in the management of its collection and exhibitions and became responsible for the planning of their estate. He later worked with Cornwall County Council on Tate Gallery St Ives which opened in 1993, followed by Tate Gallery Liverpool Phase 2 in 1998 and culminating with the delivery of Tate Modern in 2000 and Tate Britain Centenary Development in 2001.

He continued to work on plans for the second phase of Tate Modern and an extension to Tate St Ives until he was appointed by the Royal Shakespeare Company as Transformation Project Director for their Stratford-upon-Avon theatres in 2005. When the RSC project was completed, he became a freelance consultant specialising in advising on cultural buildings and from 2011 – 2017 was engaged in that capacity by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority in Hong Kong, working on the Xiqu Centre for Chinese Opera, the M+ museum of visual culture, the Lyric Theatre and the masterplanning for the second phase of theatre development in the District.

He has also advised on arts projects in Norway, France, Italy, Abu Dhabi, South Africa and Singapore and has recently been consulting on arts projects in Australia, Beijing and Qatar. He just begun a part time role as Project Director for the Hall for Cornwall in Truro. He is Special Adviser to the Theatres Trust in the UK. He was awarded an OBE for services to museums in 2001 and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Lydia Thomas

Lydia Thomas has spent the majority of her career in public sector broadcasting, originally as a producer and presenter, and most recently for the BBC and the BBC Trust, the corporation’s former governing body. With wide-ranging interests in the arts and culture, she has both grant-making and fundraising experience in the third sector including setting up the former BBC Wildlife Fund. Based in Warwickshire for the last 25 years while raising her family, Lydia has also held public appointments with Ofcom, as Chair of the Advisory Committee on Older and Disabled People; and the Big Lottery Fund, as the Midland representative on the England committee. She has served on a number of advisory committees including the British Medical Association Patient Liaison Group and The Wellcome Trust arts and science funding committee.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a long-term member of the Spinal Injuries Association. Lydia graduated in History from University College, Cardiff.

Philip Bunt

Philip is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales with 40 years of experience in the UK and overseas in the accountancy profession and as a Chief Financial Officer or Chief Operating Officer in several businesses, charities and the public sector. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer of UK Anti-Doping.

Philip has served as Vice-Chair of Governors of two schools where he also chaired the finance committees and was a trustee of the associated charities. He was Deputy Chair and Treasurer of the Campaign for Learning. Before being appointed at CVHC he was the honorary treasurer of an international development charity.

Ross Sleight

Ross is a digital strategist.  He is fascinated by the relationship between the exponential growth of digital technology, the adoption and evolution of customer behaviour and the transformation of business to adapt to these new landscapes. He has spent over 25 years immersed in digital as the world has evolved from desktop to social to mobile to AR, VR and AI and beyond.

Ross has been founding member of six influential digital businesses including Somo, Virgin Games and Tribal DDB. He has helped develop the first digital property for 10 Downing Street and has advised the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on interactive media development.  He’s won numerous creative and effectiveness awards for digital strategies and been voted in the top 100 digerati and top 50 in mobile by The Drum for three years.

Today Ross is Chief Strategy Officer at Somo, a Digital Product Accelerator, advising global brands such as Audi, HSBC and Lloyds Bank on generating product experiences that engage and delight customers and staff.  He is also an advisory board member to start-ups and scale-ups including inploi, yodomo, Molzi and One Question, and spent five years as a Director of Leamington Art in the Park Festival CIC helping this local arts festival to grow to over 45,000 visitors and a £1.8M economic impact for the area.  This breadth of experience allows Ross to frame digital transformation strategies from corporate, cultural and entrepreneurial perspectives.

Jon Sheaff

Jon Sheaff is a Landscape Architect with over 25 years’ experience of developing and delivering strategy and design for the public realm and public open space. Jon has a degree in archaeology from Cambridge University and has been a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute for over 20 years.

Following work in private practice in Wales, Jon worked as Commissions Manager for the Cardiff Bay Arts Trust, commissioning public realm art works by William Pye, Felice Varini, Brian Fell and others.

Jon led Southwark Council’s Parks and Open Spaces department from 2001 to 2010, overseeing an investment of over £28 million in parks across the borough, including the restoration of Southwark, Peckham Rye and Dulwich Parks. Jon also created London’s first Park Trust at Potters Fields and new public open spaces at Burgess Park and Bermondsey Spa.

Returning to the private sector, Jon’s practice has developed award-winning natural capital and green infrastructure strategies for public and third sector clients and has led the restoration of a number of nationally significant public spaces including Greenwich Park, Eltham Palace and Hainault Forest.

Jon was a member of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Committee for London from 2012 to 2018, determining the HLF’s investment in the capital’s heritage. Jon has been a member of the Design Council CABE Built Environment Panel since 2013, making regular contributions to the enhancement of public realm through design review and policy development.

Helen Rose

Helen is a chartered accountant with a broad career working in the retail , hospitality and retail financial services sectors . She is a versatile leader having held Executive Committee level finance and operational positions . In her Executive career she has championed diversity and inclusion with a particular focus on helping increase gender diversity in financial services.

Role of CEO-Director

The Chief Executive – Director is responsible for developing strategy with the board and the day-to-day operations of Compton Verney.  The CEO-Director is recruited by the Board and responsible to the Board

Who We Are

Compton Verney is an independent national art gallery and ‘Capability’ Brown landscape located nine miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. We are a registered charity (no. 1032478), established in 1993 with the aim of providing an inspiring and entertaining cultural day out for visitors of all ages and backgrounds – whether they have come to see our highly-acclaimed art exhibitions, to take part in our wide-ranging activities, or to enjoy the diverse features of our extensive historic landscape.

Compton Verney is

  • a unique cultural attraction that is inclusive and relaxed yet, at the same time, innovative and bold;
  • a must-see, engaging, family-friendly destination
  • ‘the national gallery on your doorstep’ – a nationally accredited and internationally recognised art gallery which stages some of the most important art exhibitions in the area, connecting our region to the world and works closely with the UK’s large, state-funded national museums and galleries;
  • one of the most distinctive and user-friendly hire venues in the region
  • an exemplar for environmental sustainability.


(9 April 1932 – 23 March 2016)


Compton Verney House Trust is indebted to the vision and generosity of the Peter Moores Foundation (1964-2014), which rescued the site in 1993 and not only funded the conversion of the derelict Georgian mansion into an art gallery, together with addition of a large modern exhibition and service wing, but also generously supported the gallery’s activities during its crucial early development. We are enormously grateful to the munificence of the Foundation, whose unstinting liberality constitutes one of the most outstanding philanthropic acts of the late twentieth century.

Sir Peter Moores was born in Lancashire and educated at Eton College and Christchurch, Oxford, where he studied Italian and German. He had a gap year at Glyndebourne working as a behind-the-scenes administrator and then studied at the Vienna Academy of Music.

In 1957 he joined his father’s business, Littlewoods, becoming Vice-Chairman in 1976, Chairman from 1977 – 1980 and remaining as a director until 1993. His public appointments include Governor of the BBC (1981 – 1983), Trustee of the Tate Gallery (1978 – 1985) and Director of Scottish Opera (1988 – 1993).

In 1991, he was appointed a CBE and Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire in 1992. He received a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours List in 2003 in recognition of his charitable services to the arts.

We remain immensely grateful to Sir Peter for his original support, generosity and vision. Without his intervention and imagination, Compton Verney would today be a romantic ruin, and the inspiring art gallery and park that has been developed there a mere pipe dream.

Not only does Sir Peter’s magnificent achievement leave the nation with a significant legacy; in addition, his farsighted patronage of the arts will continue to serve as an exemplary model for others in the years ahead.

Today, everything we do supports our mission: to share our passion for art and landscape with as many people as possible.


Compton Verney House Charity (CVHC) co-operates with two related charities, and two related companies in order to achieve its objectives. The two charities are the Compton Verney Collection Settlement (CVCS) and the Compton Verney Fund (CVF) both founded by Sir Peter Moores.


We connect people, art, nature and creativity.
We deliberately blur the perceived boundaries between visual and performing arts, indoor and outdoor, architecture and landscape, science and nature, creativity and learning, digital and analogue, and visiting and participating.


The antidote to the destructive pressures of modern life.
A visit to Compton Verney is an extraordinary, immersive experience with a profound sense of place. It’s a tonic that energises, nourishes and rejuvenates. Together we can create a better way of living.


Together we can create a better way of living.
We are a platform for dialogue, debate and interaction with society. A catalyst for ideas, we challenge traditional narratives, collaboratively exploring new ideas and innovative solutions to pressing problems.

Taken together, the mission, purpose and vision can be expressed succinctly as Compton Verney’s cause:


We connect people, art, nature and creativity as an antidote to the destructive pressures of modern life. Together we can create a better way of living.