Is it a plague pit, is it a school, is it an almshouse? No, it’s NE London’s latest historic centre and entry is free

Charterhouse service of Dr Martin DUdley rector of St Bart's 17042911 © DavidAltheer [at]
A religious commemoration at the ancient yet little-known Charterhouse buildings

IF YOU’VE EVER AMBLED around the Smithfield edge of the City you will have noticed the ancient-looking maze of buildings with the name Charterhouse.

What, do Carthusian monks live there, or is it owned by the famous public school of that name? No is the short  answer to both questions but there is a longer “Sort of” answer. And from tomorrow Friday 27 January 2017 you can find out because it is opening its imposing doors to the public.

The 14th-century plague pit that became a monastery, then a Tudor mansion hosting Elizabeth’s privy council, then an almshouse and next a school still houses 40 or so men in their sixties known as the Brothers, although they are not monks.

It will be London’s newest historic attraction — and entry will be free. Over the next few months the Museum of London is helping the Charterhouse to create a museum within the Tudor mansion section, along with a learning centre and exhibition space. Once that happens with, inevitably, more publicity, the queues will start to form. Why not pop in this weekend to be ahead of the throng?

Charterhouse: service of Dr Martin DUdley rector of St Bart's 17042911 © DavidAltheer [at]
Smells ’n’ bells: an incense-rich St Bartholomew-the-Great service at Charterhouse
Incidentally, the Charterhouse almshouse and the £37,000-a-year boarding school in Surrey, were set up by Thomas Sutton, after whom the fascinating National Trust property Sutton House in Hackney is misleadingly named.

History, eh? It’s never quite what it seems.

Hamish Scott 260117

* The Charterhouse, Charterhouse Square, London, EC1M 6AN, from Friday 270117, free entry Tuesday-Sunday 11am-4.45pm. A tour lasting up to two hours will cost £15 a head.

Backstory: Mark that 1914 battlefield carolling 

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