One of the most mysterious old buildings in London will be opening its doors to the public thanks to a £1.5 million lottery grant.
The Charterhouse, situated between Smithfield Market and the Barbican, is an historic almshouse which still performs its duty as a home for gentleman pensioners. Replete with ancient paneling, giant grey stone work and archaic rituals, the six hundred year old institution is like a Hogwarts care home. A £1.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will support its expansion and a public opening project.
The grant, provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, forms a significant part of an on-going £4 million fundraising initiative. The Revealing the Charterhouse project, in partnership with nearby Museum of London, represents a major change in the history of the London institution opening up to the public for the first time in 2016.
Originally, the Charterhouse area, which was just outside the City walls, was used as a plague pit, especially during the Black Death. In 1348 a monastery was established on Charterhouse Square which later became a Tudor mansion where both Elizabeth I and James I first held court. Momentous historical decisions were made at the Charterhouse including the establishment of some of the key rules of modern football including the off-side rule.
The Charterhouse continues as a charity and almshouse for 40 ‘Brothers’ who live there.
The Revealing the Charterhouse project will see the creation of a Learning Room and learning programme, run in partnership with the Museum of London, a new museum, and the redesign and opening of Charterhouse Square to the public. Visitors will also be able to take guided tours of the private side of the site.
Hoping to attract over 100,000 visitors by 2020, Revealing the Charterhouse aims to provide additional funds for the conservation of the historic buildings and the long-term sustainability of the charity.
“We are absolutely delighted to have received this grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund,” said Charlie Hobson, the Master of Charterhouse, “Revealing the Charterhouse offers a powerful opportunity to enrich the lives of Brothers, school children, visitors and the local community. Along with the Brothers who call the Charterhouse home, we look forward to welcoming visitors here to share our rich history and provide an inspiring learning and cultural experience for all.”
Sue Bowers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “The Charterhouse is a hidden piece of London’s history, rich with stories dating back to the time of the Black Death, but many people are just not aware of its existence. We hope the grant will contribute to their funding drive and go some way to opening this beautiful piece of London heritage for people to enjoy for years to come.”