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  • Writer's pictureErin

The Charterhouse

In the area of Smithfield is the tranquil Charterhouse Square, home to the London Charterhouse.

It's history starts in 1371 when a Carthusian priory was founded, but was dissolved during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537. There's a few fragments left, but it was largely rebuilt in 1545 as a private house, and then extended in 1611, when Thomas Sutton founded an almshouse and a school here. The school relocated to Godalming in Surrey in 1872, but it still remains as an almshouse today.

An almshouse is a home for gentlemen pensioners, and the community of Brothers which still live at the Charterhouse still benefit from the charity established by Thomas Sutton. His idea was to provide a home for eighty male pensioners, and as described in his will "gentlemen by descent and in poverty, soldiers that have borne arms by sea or land, merchants decayed by piracy or shipwreck, or servants in household to the King or Queens Majesty".

Wellington, Cromwell and Gladstone have all been Governors here, and the Charterhouse itself features in the writings of Charles Dickens, Daniel Defoe and William Makepeace Thackeray. Thackeray also went to school here, along with Robert Baden-Powell (the founder of the Scouts) and John Wesley (who along with his brother founded Methodism).

If you're itching to find out more, I highly recommend visiting their free museum which is open from Tuesday to Sunday.

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