After a two year hiatus on Musemiento, I’m back! And where better to start than back in London with the newly-opened Charterhouse museum.
The Charterhouse is a building that has worn many hats since its early days of 1348. The Charterhouse has been a plague burial ground, a monastery, a nobleman’s house, and a school. And in late January it opened its doors and tried on another hat as a museum: a contemporary yet historic site that offers visitors the chance to walk through the history of the building. Nestled in the centre of London and in stark contrast to the nearby Brutalist sanctuary of the Barbican, the Charterhouse is situated on the beautiful Charterhouse Square – part of the original cemetery that started it all.The Charterhouse has also been a charity since the 1600’s – this itself should be considered a fete! The Almshouse, a part of the Charterhouse, houses up to 60 men known as Brothers who are pensioners and in need of the charity’s hospitality. Once accepted, the men live on site for the rest of their lives and are offered a true sense of community. The museum itself provides enough knowledge to satisfy any interested party without leaving the visitor with the dreaded ‘museum fatigue’. We visited on the museum’s second open day with a packed crowd and spent just under an hour on our visit. I loved the interactive aspect of the museum such as doors to open, personal stories of the Brothers and even rumours of the resident ghost! The chapel is also open to the public and is part of the original 15th century monastery. The Charterhouse is filled with interesting anecdotes tied to objects – make sure not to miss the partially burnt door that prevented the entire building from flames after being bombed in WWII!
While we were there, the courtyard was a work in progress but I believe has been completed in the last weeks. I would highly recommend a visit to this historic site as a chance to learn about centuries of London’s history in a quiet nook of one of the busiest districts.
I’m glad to be back writing about my museum adventures and hope to bring interest to your reading. Here’s to Musemiento’s return!