It is incredibly difficult to share the amazing amount of knowledge our guide Myra imparted to the 22 members of the Company who were able to enjoy our visit to Charterhouse. We learnt of plague pits, Carthusians, originally from Chartreuse, hence the derivation of the name, through to Charterhouse being a private house with Royal connections and then in 1614 a charitable foundation. Today it is still that, being an almshouse and now home to 40 independent living “brothers” a few of whom are female. There is also a care home on site where any “brothers” who need extra support can continue living. The school, originally part of the foundation, moved to Godalming in 1872.
The “brothers” have 3 meals a day and their laundry done, but they are able to come and go as they please, meet and socialise in communal spaces. They live in 2 rooms with private facilities. It is very much a lived in and living place.
The 7-acre site is a mixture of early monastic buildings, later Tudor and Queen Anne additions with some 20th C. developments and is set amongst lovely gardens. These were redeveloped by Claire Davies in 2016 and revealed to us by one of the gardeners, Alex, who led us round this truly secret garden in the heart of the City. There were pockets where it was difficult to believe you weren’t in the country. Claire’s brief, to provide colour on every day of the year, is being beautifully maintained despite the incredibly dry weather.
The afternoon concluded with tea and cake and more time to chat.
This is a hidden gem just a step away from Bart’s Hospital, only open to the public since 2016 as the result of a Lottery grant whose condition included public access.
It was certainly worth the wait from our 2020 programme and one I will be taking friends and family back to see. I would encourage you too to explore this place full of history.