The Charterhouse is perfect if you are in London, it rains, and want to visit something really unique! This is a charity, started in the early 1600s, which still goes strong today, doing the same thing, with money from the initial donation! How amazing is that?!
The Charterhouse is located within walking distance of Barbican and Farringdon, so very easy to reach. To put that into context for non-Londoners, it’s a 15 minutes walk from St. Paul’s Cathedral. That’s a prime central location and home to an almshouse that is 400 years old. It is incredibly special.
This was a monastery, destroyed during the reformation, a boys school, and finally an almshouse, which it remains to this day. They have a small museum and the chapel can be visited, both free of charge. In addition they are doing guided tours, which last about 1 hour, that require a payment and those are so worth it.
We had the Charterhouse Tour, there are other tours too, Brother’s Tour (~90 mins), Garden Tour (60 mins), House and Garden Tour (~120 mins), Art and Historic Interiors Tour (75 mins), and a few more. I would love to visit them again, the garden and the interior tour sound really interesting.
An almshouse is a housing charity and they provide a home and care for single people who are over 60, in financial and social need and who are capable of living independently. These were the requirements for qualifying for a place for most of those 400 years. All the beneficiaries are called Brothers. There are stories on their website, alongside many more details.
A painting of Thomas Sutton is on display in the Great Hall. He bought the house in 1611 and established the foundation, the almshouse. The tour talks a lot about Sutton, so it is worth having the tour to find out all those interesting facts.
This is where the Brothers have their meals together, in the Great Hall.
One of the interesting facts I mentioned is that Sutton was in charge of defending the north of England, hence the cannons and balls on the fireplace.
In the 14th century it was a Carthusian monastery and this is all that remains of it. Lots of interesting stories about children playing football there.
The Great Chamber is the only Tudor great chamber to survive in London. The room was created in the 1540s. Elizabeth I met her Privy Council here in 1558 before her coronation. She and James I were hosted here on many occasions after that.
This is why the reproduction of a Sieve Portrait of Elizabeth I is on the walls. Sieve was a nod to her virginity.
The museum has a few fascinating artefacts. It is quite small, but well worth visiting.
This monastic outfit has a lovely story. It was worn by the only monastery of Carthusian monks in England, a few decades ago. One of the Brothers contacted that monastery, told him where he lives and the story of The Charterhouse, and they decided to send him this outfit.
This garden dates back to the Black Death of the 14th century.
The chapel is beautifully decorated.
These dogs are all over the house. I suppose they represent loyalty, something that appeared often in Tudor paintings and henceforth.
This is Sutton’s tomb.
The Charterhouse is on Charterhouse Square, EC1M 6AN. All the funds from shopping in the gift shop and the tours are sustaining the historical buildings, so do consider visiting and take a tour, and if you visit, do consider buying something. I bought a book on almshouses.