Open House Festival

The Charterhouse

religious, museum, historical house, community/cultural

Henry Yevele, 1371

Charterhouse Square, EC1M 6AN

Founded as a Black Death burial ground, the site has served as a Carthusian monastery, Tudor mansion, school and an almshouse, which it remains to this day. The Charterhouse opened to the public in 2017 with a new museum.

Getting there


Barbican, Farringdon


4, 56, 153





• Black Death Burial Ground 1348 -1371
• Carthusian Monastery 1371-1538
• Tudor Mansion 1545-1611
• Almshouse and School founded by Thomas Sutton 1611 to the present day

The site upon which the Charterhouse (formally known as Sutton’s Hospital in Charterhouse) stands was acquired in the middle of the fourteenth century as a burial ground for the victims of the Black Death. In 1371 Sir Walter Manny, one of Edward III's senior advisers founded a Carthusian Monastery. A prior and twenty-four monks were accommodated in two-storey houses arranged around a characteristically large cloister, and the church built alongside the Burial Ground became the priory church.

In 1535, the monks refused to align themselves with Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy and some were executed at Tyburn in a most brutal way. The monastery was suppressed and passed to the crown. Subsequently it was granted to Lord North, who constructed a fine Tudor mansion which was later sold to the fourth Duke of Norfolk, who further embellished it.

In 1611 Norfolk’s son, Thomas Howard, first Earl of Suffolk, sold the mansion to Thomas Sutton, building Audley End in Essex with the proceeds. Sutton was said to be the wealthiest commoner in England. He had held the post of Master of the Ordnance in the Northern Parts from 1568 to 1594 and his involvement in the coal trade, advantageous property dealings and money lending had allowed him to amass a considerable fortune. He used much of his wealth to endow a charitable foundation to educate boys and care for elderly gentlemen. The school developed to such an extent that in 1872 it moved to a new site in Godalming, near Guildford, Surrey, where it remains to this day.

The Charterhouse sustained much damage during the Second World War but was faithfully restored by the architects Seely and Paget.

In January 2017 the Charterhouse opened to the public with a museum, learning programme, tour and events offer. Visit to book your tour.

Brothers of the Charterhouse

The Brothers of the Charterhouse are a residential community of single men and women over sixty years of age. Originally for men who could supply ‘good testimonye and certificat of theire good behaviour and soundnes in religion’, those who had been servants to the King ‘either decrepit or old captaynes either at sea or land’, maimed or disabled soldiers, merchants fallen on hard times, those ruined by shipwreck or other calamity, the community now consists of former teachers, musicians, writers, clergymen, etc.

Each Brother is provided with accommodation which varies between a separate bedroom and sitting room and a bed-sitting room with a washing area. Breakfast, lunch, tea and supper are served daily in the Great Hall.

In January 2018 the first female Brother joined the community.

Architecture of the Almshouse Tour

Join an expert guide to explore the grounds of the Grade I-listed Charterhouse and discover 650 years of architecture from the Black Death to the present day.

Originally a medieval monastery on the edge of the City of London, the Charterhouse was transformed into an opulent Tudor mansion before Thomas Sutton founded his almshouse charity there in 1611. The Charterhouse continues to provide homes for a community of 'Brothers', single men and women over 60 in financial and social need.

Book this special tour to learn how the historic buildings weathered the Reformation, a devastating fire, and changing tastes in architecture, and how they continue to serve the needs of the community in the 21st century.

Duration 45 minutes, free of charge.

Please note this is an external tour of the buildings, granting access to areas of the Charterhouse site not otherwise accessible to the public (Preacher's Court). The tour does not grant access to the interiors of the Charterhouse, except for the museum and chapel, which are open free of charge, Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30-16:30.

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