The site of The Charterhouse in Smithfield, London, has been a burial ground, a monastery, a private Tudor mansion, a school and an almshouse. It was used by both Elizabeth I and James I to conduct business before their respective coronations, and appears in works by Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray.
And, for 2017, it’s added another string to its bow — it’s opened its doors to visitors and has a shiny new museum to show for it.
The museum opened on 27th January and tells the story of the site from the present day back to 1348, when it was used as a burial ground for plague victims. It’s small (and free) but packed with artefacts that are linked to the building’s history or that have been excavated — including the skeleton of an unfortunate plague victim on the way out.
Tours of the rest of the building — including the Great Chamber where Elizabeth I held court and the Tudor mansion — take place three times a day. Unfortunately, I missed the tours this time — book in advance as they’re very popular — but watch this space for a review when I’ve made it on one…
And there’s more to come, including a cafe that will open in February 2017 and an official launch later in the year. The museum is currently free and tours cost £10 — I can’t wait to go back…
UPDATE: The cafe and new entrance is now open! See the Charterhouse’s new look above.
The Charterhouse essentials…
Opening times: 11am-4.45pm, Tuesday-Sunday
Nearest Tube: Farringdon
More information: The Charterhouse website
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- Matt Brown’s quiet walk through Holborn and Bloomsbury
- Sutton House, Hackney: A Tudor house with intriguing secrets
- St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield: survivor of London history; provider of London quiet