Visit The Charterhouse Gardens
As much as it is an overused phrased, The Charterhouse truly is a hidden gem. A former Medieval monastery and Tudor palace nestled right beside the City of London.
I’ve previously written a blog about a visit to the Charterhouse here, but recently I visited the Charterhouse gardens on an open day and it’s incredible how extensive they are!
The Charterhouse Gardens
The Charterhouse has had many roles throughout its history, beginning as a monastery in the 14th century. You enter the gardens via the Norfolk Cloister, refaced in red brick during the 16th century when – post-reformation – Charterhouse was bought by Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk.
At the end you emerge into the first of four large garden spaces that make up the Charterhouse Gardens.
Known as the Norfolk Cloister Garden, the wall has a sneaky nod to its history, with ‘ANNO’ appearing across it.
Being the incurably curious sort, I was delighted that a helpful guide informed me that hidden from view was the date 1571, when the Norfolk Cloister was redecorated.
The Norfolk Cloister Garden leads into Preacher’s Court, presumably a reference to the Carthusian Monks who were based here from the mid 1300s until the priory closed in 1537.
Preacher’s Court and the adjoining Pensioner’s Court were 19th century alternations to the Charterhouse, designed by Edward Blore and constructed between 1826-1840.
Preacher’s Court suffered extensive damage during the Second World War and now contains the yellow brick Queen Elizabeth II infirmary, which opened in 2004 and provides residential care to 11 people.
In the centre of Preacher’s Court is a mid-19th Century Grade II listed water pump.
Following its stint as a monastery and private home, in 1611 Sir Thomas Sutton established a school and almshouse here. The school still exists but has moved to Godalming, Surrey, whereas the almshouse never left.
It’s this section of the Charterhouse Gardens which feel most private and residential, with adorable front gardens and numbered doors. Today the Charterhouse is home to over 40 brothers (men and women).
The final garden we were able to visit was the Master’s Garden. It’s entrance decoration a somewhat ominous reminder of its function…
The Burial Ground
Although once a burial ground for Charterhouse Brothers, the space has been transformed into a walled garden. Tombstones and memorial stones are embedded into the brickwork.
At the end of the garden is a Narnia-esque doorway, where occasionally a brother might appear from this other world, stepping into the reality of modern London.
It’s here, listening to the rumble of the Clerkenwell Road beyond the wall that your reminded you’re still in Central London.
Visiting the Charterhouse Gardens
You can book specific Charterhouse Garden tours here as well as tickets to Open Days to just visit and explore the gardens on your own.