Exterior of The Charterhouse, Smithfield, London

The Charterhouse: a fresh look at London’s past (and present)

The site of The Charterhouse in Smithfield, London, has been a burial ground, a monastery, a private Tudor mansion, a school and an almshouse. It was used by both Elizabeth I and James I to conduct business before their respective coronations, and appears in works by Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray.

And, for 2017, it’s added another string to its bow — it’s opened its doors to visitors and has a shiny new museum to show for it.

Exterior of The Charterhouse, Smithfield, London

Image: A Peace of London

The museum opened on 27th January and tells the story of the site from the present day back to 1348, when it was used as a burial ground for plague victims. It’s small (and free) but packed with artefacts that are linked to the building’s history or that have been excavated — including the skeleton of an unfortunate plague victim on the way out.

Tours of the rest of the building — including the Great Chamber where Elizabeth I held court and the Tudor mansion — take place three times a day. Unfortunately, I missed the tours this time — book in advance as they’re very popular — but watch this space for a review when I’ve made it on one…

And there’s more to come, including a cafe that will open in February 2017 and an official launch later in the year. The museum is currently free and tours cost £10 — I can’t wait to go back…

UPDATE: The cafe and new entrance is now open! See the Charterhouse’s new look above.

Opening times: 11am-4.45pm, Tuesday-Sunday

Nearest Tube: Farringdon

More information: The Charterhouse website

Exterior of The Charterhouse, Smithfield, London

Image: A Peace of London

Exterior of The Charterhouse, Smithfield, London

Image: A Peace of London

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