12 branch members met up at the Barbican Underground Station en route to a tour of The Charterhouse, one of London’s most distinguished historical buildings. It is to be found about a hundred yards from Smithfields meat market and was built on the site of a burial ground for those Londoners who died of the Plague in 1348. Charterhouse was built in 1371 as a Carthusian monastery and flourished in the medieval and early Tudor period. Following the dissolution of monasteries under Henry VIII the building was altered to become a home for 40 poor bachelors – “the Brothers” – and by 1614 it also housed 40 school boys, the original pupils of Charterhouse School which eventually transferred to Godalming to become one of England’s most prestigious public schools.
In the earlier years of its existence, i.e. from 1537 to 1611, Charterhouse was a home for Royalty and members of the aristocracy. This was a turbulent time in English history given the political and religious power struggles of the era. Three of the owners were executed for treason: John Dudley Duke of Northumberland 1553; Thomas Howard Duke of Norfolk 1572; Philip Howard Earl of Arundel 1589.
During World War 2 the buildings were hit by incendiary bombs and badly damaged. They have been repaired and although still the home of 40 ‘brothers’ – some now ladies (!), they are open to the public.
On leaving this illustrious building and reeling from the weight of historical briefing, our organiser Janet Wallace led us to lunch in a nearby Fullers hostelry. Another brilliantly organised tour thus completed.