The English Sangha Trust
The English Sangha Trust (EST) is the legal charitable body, originally established in 1956, that serves to steward donations given to the Sangha (monastic community) . This is the body that in 1977 owned the Hampstead Vihara, which had no sangha in residence, and then invited Ajahn Sumedho to come from Thailand; thus began Ajahn Sumedho’s efforts to establish the Thai Forest tradition outside Thailand.
Once the EST had a resident sangha in Hampstead, decision-making power was vested in the sangha. Then in 1979, after a donation to the sangha of 96 acres of forest in West Sussex, the sangha decided to move to Sussex. The EST then acquired Chithurst House and sold the Hampstead Vihara. Five years later, when the burgeoning resident sangha of monks and nuns at Chithurst (Cittaviveka) needed more space, the sangha and the EST decided to purchase the site that is now Amaravati.
To this day the EST legally owns and manages both Cittaviveka and Amaravati monasteries and its priorities remain focused on them and their resident sangha:
- to purchase land that may support the existing monastic properties;
- to maintain the supply and good order of the four requisites (shelter, food, clothing and medicinal needs) for the sangha in the two monasteries;
- developing the monasteries in terms of buildings, land and physical structures in accordance with the wishes of the resident monastics. At Amaravati this is now being implemented through a wholly-owned subsidiary called Amaravati Developments Ltd (ADL). Details can be found here.
- to facilitate such publications in any format, as are produced or approved of by the resident monastics.
All funds given (donated) to those two monasteries are held and managed by the EST. The legal structure of the EST is that of a Charitable Company limited by twelve shares all potentially held by monastics. There are also up to nine lay trustees. The sangha shareholders include the Abbots of Cittaviveka and Amaravati, and monks and nuns elected by the monastics representing both monasteries. The lay trustees are chosen by the sangha, and since the monastic discipline prohibits the monks and nuns from making direct financial decisions, the lay trustees are vested with the responsibility of making final decisions over the allocation of finances, in accordance with the needs and wishes of the monastics.
The EST submits audited annual accounts and returns to Companies House and the Charity Commission for England and Wales; these can be downloaded from the respective websites. As a Company and Charity the EST is also responsible for implementing the requirements of a range of bodies on subjects from tax, insurance, health and safety, child protection, immigration and fire prevention, to re-cycling.
The EST’s leaflet for 2022/2023 can be downloaded here.
The EST has a Finance Sub-Committee to advise on detailed management of its finances.
At Cittaviveka all day-to-day affairs are managed through the Cittaviveka Advisory Group (CAG).
The EST is also the steward for the Amaravati Retreat Centre.
The trustee directors
The lay trustees are all friends of the sangha who have been practising for a number of years and all have specialist skills in management, finance and related subjects. They are appointed for up to three years at a time. The current lay trustees are
- John Stevens – Chair
- Caroline Leinster – Trust Secretary
- Brigitte Burnett
- Nicholas Carroll
- Kazuko Kawamura
- Juan Serrano
You are welcome to contact the EST by using the form below.