Longstaffe-Gowan landscapes new London attraction

A walled almshouse courtyard is opening its doors to the public for the first time in its 660-year history as part of an ambitious landscape project.

image: Longstaffe Gowan
image: Longstaffe Gowan

A walled almshouse courtyard is opening its doors to the public for the first time in its 660-year history as part of an ambitious landscape project.

The £750,000 landscape is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Found and the Charterhouse, the almshouse within medieval stone walls in Clerkenwell, which dates from the 14th century.

This November parts of the Charterhouse will be open to the public for the first time in its history thanks to the project driven by the Charterhouse and the Museum of London,

A new museum within the Tudor mansion as well as a learning centre and an exhibition space will tell the story of the Charterhouse and its role in key moments in English history.

The museum, cafe and learning centre will be accessed through Charterhouse Square, the site of a medieval plague pit, re-designed and inspired by its 18th century layout.

Landscape architect and gardens adviser to the Historic Royal Palaces Todd Longstaffe-Gowan said: "It is about one-and-half-acres and really remarkable.

"The site was a former medieval monastery and latterly a plague burial pit and has wonderful melancholy associations.

"We will put in a pavilion and sympathetic hedging to attract birds. There will be 18th century traditional planting and ornamental species.

"We will open up the north to give views of the early medieval walls and we are removing a 104 car parking spaces. Work started this Spring."

The story begins in 1348 during the black death when the land was used as a burial ground. In 1371 the Charterhouse was built and a Carthusian monastery.

Elizabeth I and James 1 stayed in the buildings and In 1611 businessman Thomas Sutton bought the Charterhouse to provide a home for up to 80 'brothers' such as 'decrepit or old captaynes'.

Large parts of the buildings were damaged in the Blitz of May 1941. Yet it was faithfully restored and is now home to more than 40 brothers.

Museum of London director Sharon Ament said: "We are looking forward to supporting the Charterhouse in creating a learning programme for thousands of pupils from London and beyond."

Supporters including Helical Bar, Charles Hayward Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation, Christian Levett, The Schroder Foundation, The Lyon Family Trust and City Bridge Trust and others.

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