WORK BEGINS TO ‘REVEAL THE CHARTERHOUSE’
LONDON’S BEST KEPT SECRET SET TO OPEN TO THE PUBLIC FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ITS 66O YEAR HISTORY
Living the Nation’s History since 1348
The Charterhouse, set deep within stone walls in the heart of Clerkenwell, is a remarkable assembly of historic buildings dating from the 14th century. Over the years it has been a religious site, a grand Tudor mansion, a school and, as it has remained for over 400 years, an almshouse. In November 2016 parts of the Charterhouse will be open to the public for the first time in its 660 year history, revealing to the public the great story of this sprawling urban oasis at the heart of London.
With its partner the Museum of London, the Charterhouse is creating a new museum within the Tudor mansion, as well as a Learning Centre and an exhibition space, which will tell the story of the Charterhouse and its role in key moments in English history, using artefacts from its own collection, together with others from the Museum of London and other collections. This new facility will bring to life the history of the building, highlighting its place in national affairs and securing its future.
The story of the Charterhouse is the story of our nation. It begins in 1348 during the Black Death when the land was used as a burial ground for victims of the plague. In 1371 the Charterhouse was built and a Carthusian monastery flourished on the site. Elizabeth 1 convened the Privy Council here in the days before her coronation in 1558, and James 1 followed her lead by staying at the Charterhouse prior to his coronation. In 1611 Thomas Sutton, a wealthy businessman, bought the Charterhouse and established the foundation that now bears his name providing a home for up to 80 Brothers: ‘either decrepit or old captaynes either at sea or at land, maimed or disabled soldiers, merchants fallen on hard times, those ruined by shipwreck of other calamity’ and for 40 poor scholars (which became Charterhouse School).
The story lives on. Large parts of the buildings were damaged in the Blitz of May 1941. Yet it was faithfully restored and is now home to over 40 Brothers.
Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London said:
“I am thrilled that the partnership between the museum and the Charterhouse is proving so successful and that the Revealing the Charterhouse project is now a reality. We will be working even more closely with this remarkable site that has played such a key role in London’s history to ensure that it becomes an irresistible destination for visitors when it opens its doors to the public in the autumn. We are particularly looking forward to supporting the Charterhouse in creating an inspiring learning programme for thousands of school pupils from London and beyond.”
The museum, cafe and Learning Centre will be accessed through Charterhouse Square, the site of a medieval plague pit. The square has been re-designed, inspired by its 18th century layout, by Todd Longstaffe-Cowan (author of The London Square (Yale 2012) and Gardens Adviser to Historic Royal Palaces. The reconfigured Square will lead visitors to the new public entrance to the Charterhouse designed by Eric Parry Architects(EPA), who were responsible for the renewal of St Martin in the Fields and the Holburne Museum in Bath. EPA are also designing the City’s newest skyscraper, 1 Undershaft.
Sir Michael Graydon, Chairman of the Charterhouse, said:
“I am very proud to be the Chairman of the Charterhouse at this important moment for the charity. My fellow Governors and I are custodians of one of the nation’s longest standing and most noble charities and we look forward to opening our doors and revealing some of the remarkable history to visitors from all corners of our nation and from the world.”
Eric Parry, EPA said:
“The invaluable lesson of the Charterhouse is the continuity, relevance and adaptability of its architecture, in a city context that would be astoundingly incomprehensible to its founders.”
This is a project funded by the HERITAGE Lottery Fund and a range of other generous supporters including Helical Bar, Charles Hayward Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation, Christian Levett, The Schroder Foundation, The Lyon Family Trust and The City Bridge Trust amongst many others.