VISIT - Wednesday 2 September 2015
Musical Tour of the Charterhouse

Charterhouse building

On Wednesday 2 September, Welwyn Garden DFAS visited the Charterhouse, an alms-house in the centre of London. Built on the ruins of a Carthusian Monastery and later transformed into a Tudor Mansion dating from 1550, it is a building with a unique history to explore and discover.

We assembled in the courtyard and were led by Graham Matthews the organist and a Brother, into the library. Our group were warmly welcomed by other Brothers who were going to accompany us on our tour. Just stepping into the library the venerable atmosphere of the building became apparent.

As we were led into the adjoining Norfolk Cloister we heard the Thomas Sutton Singers singing Plainsong from the Mass of St. Michael the Archangel. It was a wonderful experience standing in the ancient cloisters listening to music that the monks would also have known.

Richard Stevens one of the singers was our guide around the Charterhouse, ably supported by Graham, and as we visited the Chapel Court, the Cloister and the Chapel, we were accompanied by more excellent singing and information about the history of the building and the people. John Wesley was a Scholar of Charterhouse and Purcell wrote a Psalm Anthem for Founder’s Day 1688.

As we moved into the secular areas, we were treated to “Pastime with good company “(“The Kynge’s Ballade”) attributed to Henry V111. This was a merry song sung in the Great Hall where the Brothers dined. Graham explained that when a Brother came to live in the Charterhouse they were allocated their place at one of the tables.

We learnt many interesting facts about living in the Charterhouse, and also visited the courtyards and went onto the Queen’s Walk which looked down onto the Tudor Garden. We enjoyed our visit very much, the gentlemen who showed us round were so courteous and friendly and it was an oasis of peace which I think we were reluctant to leave as our tour came to an end.

the Charterhouse

The Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery in London, to the north of what is now Charterhouse Square. Since the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century the house has served as private mansion, a boys’ school and an almshouse, which it remains to this day. The formal title of the building is Sutton’s Hospital in Charterhouse.