Silence, Seclusion and Meditation : Revealing The Charterhouse

The present-day Charterhouse School is located just outside the town of Godalming in Surrey and I have driven past it many a time on my way to or from the A3 and our son’s house. The school was originally established for the education of bright boys from poor families in the city. Looking at the school down in Surrey today I think it’s only for the very wealthy. But the original Charterhouse still stands in a quiet square away from the hustle and bustle of the City of London.

Former Pupils of the Charterhouse School in London

Recently, it has opened its doors to the public and it is possible to book a place on one of their excellent tours. There is lots to see and it has a fascinating history.

We booked on the “Standard tour: Join us for a professional guide led tour to see the highlights of the Charterhouse, taking in the Great Hall where the Brothers sit together to eat their meals, the Great Chamber where Queen Elizabeth I held court during the first days of her reign, Wash-house Court associated with the medieval monks of the Charterhouse and Master’s Court which reveals the opulence of Lord North’s Tudor mansion. Our expert guides will explain the history of the site and pull out some highlights from the collection.”

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Fireplace displaying the Charterhouse Coat of Arms

The story begins in 1348 during the Black Death, when the land was used as a burial ground for victims of plague. In 1371, the Charterhouse was built – a Carthusian monastery, which flourished throughout the later medieval and early Tudor period.

With the dissolution of the monasteries, the Charterhouse became a mansion for wealthy noblemen and a refuge for royalty. Elizabeth I met the Privy Council here in the days before her coronation in 1558 and James I used the Great Chamber to create 130 new Barons before he was crowned. But it was in 1611 that Thomas Sutton bought the Charterhouse and established the foundation that now bears his name.

Thomas Sutton’s will provided 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’ as well as Charterhouse school. James I retained his connection with the Charterhouse, becoming the first Royal Governor of Thomas Sutton’s foundation.”

The school moved out to Godalming but the Brothers still live here.

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The Cloister, with early Tudor brick-vaulted ceiling lead to the Tudor tennis courts

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There are countless symbolic greyhounds around the Charterhouse

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Charterhouse was one of the original members of the Football Association and established two of the main rules regarding the throw-in and off-side. They won the first Challenge Cup against Eton.

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The Remains of the Charterhouse founder, Thomas Sutton have been re-buried in their original location in the ruins of what was the original chapel.

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Memorial pavilion to the Charterhouse founders

2 comments on “Silence, Seclusion and Meditation : Revealing The Charterhouse

  1. sherry02738 says:

    A lot to see there and that ceiling is gorgeous although it would have made me feel underdressed.

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