Story Of London

The Charterhouse in 1731

“London in 1731” is a wonderful guide book to the city which was penned sometime in the early 18th century and subsequently brought up to date. The author is supposed to be a Portuguese merchant named Don Manoel Gonzales but the internal evidence demonstrates that this is almost certainly a nom de plume. It is more likely that our author was an accomplished native of London. The guide was edited by Professor Henry Morley and published by Cassell as part of their wonderful little National Library series in 1888. The author now turns his attention to those parts of London Without the Walls, geographically in the counties of Middlesex and Surrey, but considered part of the metropolis. In particular he focuses on the history and current status of The Carthusian Monastery at Charterhouse.

An early map of London. Charternouse is located on the west of Smithfield at the top leftI next proceed to survey the out-parishes in the Counties of Middlesex and Surrey which are comprehended within the bills of mortality, and esteemed part of this great town. And first, St. Giles’s in the Fields contains these chief streets and places: Great Lincoln’s Inn Fields, part of Lincoln’s Inn Garden, Turnstile, Whetstone Park, part of High Holborn, part of Duke Street, Old and New Wild Street, Princes Street, Queen Street, part of Drury Lane, Brownlow Street, Bolton Street, Castle Street, King Street, the Seven Dials, or seven streets comprehending Earl Street, Queen Street, White Lion Street, and St. Andrew’s Street, Monmouth Street, the east side of Hog Lane, Stedwell Street, and Staig Street.Great Lincoln’s Inn Fields or Square contains about ten acres of ground, and is something longer than it is broad, the longest sides extending from east to west. The buildings on the west and south generally make a grand figure.In the parish of St. Sepulchre, which is without the liberties of the City of London, we meet with Hicks’s Hall and the Charter House.Hicks’s Hall is situated in the middle of St. John’s Street, towards the south end, and is the sessions house for the justices of peace of the County of Middlesex, having been erected for this end, anno 1612, by Sir Baptist Hicks, a mercer in Cheapside, then a justice of the peace. The justices before holding their sessions at the Castle Inn, near Smithfield Bars.To the eastward of Hicks’s Hall stood the late dissolved monastery of the Charter House, founded by Sir Walter Manny, a native of the Low Countries, knighted by King Edward III for services done to this crown, probably in the wars against France.Sir Walter Manny at first erected only a chapel, and assigned it to be the burial-place of all strangers; but in the year 1371 Sir Walter founded a monastery of Carthusian monks here, transferring to these fathers thirteen acres and a rood of land with the said chapel: the revenues of which convent, on the dissolution of monasteries, 30 Henry VIII, amounted to 642 pounds 4d. 1ob. per annum.Sir Thomas Audley soon after obtained a grant of this Carthusian monastery, together with Duke’s Place, and gave the former in marriage with his daughter Margaret to Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, from whom it descended to the Earl of Suffolk, and was called Howard House, the surname of that noble family. By which name Thomas Sutton, Esq., purchased it of the Earl of Suffolk for 13,000 pounds, anno 1611, and converted it into a hospital by virtue of letters patent obtained from King James I, which were afterwards confirmed by Act of Parliament, 3 Charles I.The death of Wat Tyler in 1381 opposite the gate of charterhouseThe manors, lands, tenements, and hereditaments which the founder settled upon this hospital amounted to, per annum 4,493 19 10 The revenues purchased by his executors, &c., after his death, to per annum 897 Pounds 13 s. 9 d. Total of the charity per annum 5,391 pounds 13s. 7d.But the revenues now amount to upwards of 6,000 pounds per annum by the improvement of the rents. This charity was given for the maintenance of fourscore old men, who were to be either gentlemen by descent reduced to poverty, soldiers by sea or land, merchants who had suffered by piracy or shipwreck, or servants of the King’s household, and were to be fifty years of age and upwards at their admission, except maimed soldiers, who are capable of being admitted at forty years of age. Nor are any to be admitted who are afflicted with leprosy, or any unclean or infectious disease, or who shall be possessed of the value of 200 pounds, or 14 pounds per annum for life, or who are married men. No poor brother to go beyond sea without the licence of six of the governors, nor to go into the country for above two months without the master’s leave, and during such absence shall be allowed but two-thirds of his commons in money besides his salary; and if a brother go out and is arrested he shall have no allowance during his absence, but his place to be reserved till the governors’ pleasure be known.No brother to pass the gates of the hospital in his livery gown, or to lie out of the house, or solicit causes, or molest any of the King’s subjects, under a certain pecuniary pain; and all other duties, such as frequenting chapel, decent clothing and behaviour, to be regulated by the governors.This munificent benefactor also founded a grammar school in the Charter House, to consist of a master, usher, and forty scholars.No scholars to be admitted at above fourteen or under ten years of age.The scholars are habited in black gowns, and when any of them are fit for the university, and are elected, each of them receives 20 pounds per annum for eight years out of the revenues of the house. And such boys who are found more fit for trades are bound out, and a considerable sum of money given with them.When any of the forty boys are disposed of, or any of the old men die, others are placed in their rooms by the governors in their turns.The master is to be an unmarried man, aged about forty; one that hath no preferment in Church or State which may draw him from his residence and care of the hospital.The preacher must be a Master of Arts, of seven years’ standing in one of the universities of England, and one who has preached four years.The governors meet in December, to take the year’s accounts, view the state of the hospital, and to determine other affairs; and again in June or July, to dispose of the scholars to the university or trades, make elections, etc. And a committee of five at the least is appointed at the assembly in December yearly, to visit the school between Easter and Midsummer, etc.The buildings of the Charter House take up a great deal of ground, and are commodious enough, but have no great share of beauty. This house has pretty much the air of a college or monastery, of which the principal rooms are the chapel and the hall; and the old men who are members of the society have their several cells, as the monks have in Portugal.The chapel is built of brick and boulder, and is about sixty-three feet in length, thirty-eight in breadth, and twenty-four in height. Here Sir William Manny, founder of the Carthusian monastery, was buried; and here was interred Mr. Sutton, the founder of the hospital, whose monument is at the north-east angle of the chapel, being of black and white marble, adorned with four columns, with pedestals and entablature of the Corinthian order, between which lies his effigy at length in a fur gown, his face upwards and the palms of his hands joined over his breast; and on the tomb is the following inscription:-“Sacred to the glory of God, in grateful memory of Thomas Sutton, Esq. Here lieth buried the body of Thomas Sutton, late of Castle Camps, in the County of Cambridge, Esq., at whose only cost and charges this Hospital was founded and endowed with large possessions, for the relief of poor men and children. He was a gentleman born at Knayth, in the County of Lincoln, of worthy and honest parentage. He lived to the age of seventy-nine years, and deceased the 12th day of December, 1611.”The Charter House gardens are exceeding pleasant, and of a very great extent, considering they stand so far within this great town.