What is 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 residents of the almshouse are known as ‘Brothers’. This is a purely traditional term for those living in this community and acknowledges the past when there was a monastery on the site. The building is formally known as Sutton’s Hospital in Charterhouse, and is a registered charity (number 207773).

Members of the public are invited to visit our museum, which tells our story of the Charterhouse from the Black Death to the present day. Visitors can also book a tour of the grounds and buildings with a Brother of the Charterhouse. Visit our Tours page for more information.

In addition, it is possible to hire certain areas of the Charterhouse for private events.

What is the Charterhouse mission?

Our mission is to provide housing, care and support for older people in need, while sharing our heritage and preserving it for future generations.

Almshouse and Infirmary FAQs

What is an almshouse?

An almshouse is a house or accommodation endowed by private charity for the reception and support of the aged or infirm poor.  You can find out more about almshouses here.

Why are almshouse residents known as Brothers?

This title harks back to the original almshouse residents in the 17th Century who were termed Brothers in memory of the Carthusian monks that previously lived here.  The Charterhouse has a Christian history and tradition but it is now not run as a religious organisation, and applications are open to people of all denominations, or none.  We now have women residents, who so far have been happy to also be called Brothers.  We will be pleased to consider alternatives when we have at least ten women making their homes here.

How does a new Brother get selected?

The Charterhouse provides an almshouse for between 40 and 50 single people, aged 60 or older, who are in financial and social need and are capable of living independently. Beneficiaries of the charity, the Brothers, pay a monthly maintenance contribution according to their means. All shortlisted applicants go through a thorough application process when apartments become available, and, as well as meeting the basic criteria, there are background checks and several interview stages to ensure the person would really be happy living in and contributing to the existing established community. Find out more about applying to be a Brother here.

How do you support the Brothers?

The Charterhouse is committed to ensuring the Brothers are provided with a safe and caring environment in which they live as independently as possible.

What is the infirmary?

The Queen Elizabeth II infirmary is a care home registered with the Care Quality Commission staffed by experienced care workers who are trained and supervised under health and social care guidelines .  Nursing support is accessed through the local GP and specialist health teams with the NHS.   The name is historic and was named after Queen Elizabeth II in 2004.

Who is the infirmary for?

Brothers are required to be in good physical and mental health when they join the almshouse. If, as they get older, they have any health issues and need 24/7 care they can be cared for and supported in the infirmary.  There are generally a number of rooms in the Infirmary also available to private residents needing respite or longer-term care.

What are your safeguarding policies?

The Charterhouse aims to provide its residents, volunteers, visitors and staff with a safe and secure environment. Our safeguarding policy applies to all staff, volunteers, Governors and contractors without exception. Our policy is reviewed annually and advice sought through the Islington adult and children safeguarding team to ensure that the most up to date recommendations are incorporated into our policy and followed.

Are you properly trained in safeguarding?

Our staff and volunteers are trained in, and committed to, the prevention of all forms of potential abuse. All parties involved in the running of the Charterhouse must attend safeguarding training as part of their induction, and when required by the Safeguarding Officer. This is in line with the London multiagency adult safeguarding policy and procedure .

Organisational FAQs

Where can I find your annual report?

You can view previous annual reports on the Charity Commission website under the name of Suttons Hospital in Charterhouse. Our 2020-21 Annual Report is available to be read in full here.

How is the Charterhouse financially constituted?

Incoming Resources: Income from the Charity’s investment and property portfolio, Brothers’ Contributions and other income are all accounted for on a receipts basis. Donations received for the general purposes of the Hospital Fund are credited to unrestricted funds, and those that are subject to the specific wishes of donors credited to the relevant fund.

Donations raised by specific fundraising for the Charterhouse Fund, and unrestricted legacies, are included in full on a receivable basis, and allocated to that Fund.

Carthusia Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hospital Fund which conducts all non-primary purpose trading activities for the Charterhouse. It operates on an arms-length basis from the Charity and has a separate board of directors. The share capital of £1 is wholly owned by the Hospital Fund.  All profit before tax is Gift-Aided to the Hospital. The accounts of the company are consolidated within those of the charity.

Resources expended: Resources expended are included in the Consolidated Statement of Financial Activities on an accruals basis, inclusive of any VAT which cannot be recovered.  Liabilities are recognised when there is a legal or constructive obligation committing the Charity to the expenditure, it is probable that settlement will be required and the amount of the obligation can be measured reliably.

Costs of raising funds include investment expenses and management fees, including fees charged for revaluations and disposals, are charged directly against the capital of the respective funds.  These fees can be specifically identified by reference to the investments held by each respective fund.

Why did you open the Charterhouse to the public?

Even before the charity was established on the site in 1611, the history of the site is a microcosm of many aspects of the Nation’s history from the mid 1300s.  The charity exists to provide care for the Brothers and the entire community is proud of our place in the national story.  In 2017 we created our museum so that visitors can experience first hand the remarkable site.  All visitors are invited to help us by contributing to the charity.  Their support is essential as routine maintenance costs over three quarters of a million pounds a year, even before specific conservation projects are considered.

What is the relationship between the Charterhouse and Charterhouse School?

In 1611, a legacy left by Thomas Sutton, one of the wealthiest commoners in Jacobean England, established the Charterhouse as both a school for boys, and an almshouse for old gentlemen. Over time the school grew both in size and reputation, and became a fee-paying private school.  By the late 1800s the site was becoming crowded and there were challenges managing the almshouse and its residents alongside the school.  At this time the Public Schools Commission of 1864 (the Clarendon Commission), recommended that the School should move out of London. The commissioners commented on the unhealthy environment and the insalubrious locality as being harmful for young boys. The Clarendon Commission recommended separating the governance of public schools from their founding charities, not just at Charterhouse. The Public Schools Act of 1868 authorised changing the constitutions of Charterhouse, Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Shrewsbury, Westminster and Winchester. Part of the Charterhouse site was sold in order to finance the building of an imposing school in Godalming, Surrey, and in 1872 the school migrated there, leaving the almshouse at the Charterhouse in London. The School has welcomed girls in the sixth form for decades and is soon to become fully co-educational, and the almshouse too now welcomes women residents.

The association between the School and the London Charterhouse continues to this day with representative ‘observers’ sitting on each Governing Board. The Charterhouse’s charity ‘scheme’ lists two objects – the relief of the beneficiaries in the almshouse and the advancement of education by the provision of financial support to Charterhouse School. This annual amount delivered to the School is based on an agreed historical calculation and is used to provide bursaries to students in need.

Charterhouse School and the Charterhouse in London continue to enjoy a close relationship, due to our shared foundation and financial arrangement. The Charterhouse hosts an annual Founder’s Day service and dinner for the School to commemorate Thomas Sutton, and pupils regularly come to the Charterhouse for educational visits. The charity has also benefited from generous donations from former pupils (Old Carthusians).

Why are you called Sutton’s Hospital?

Originally called The Hospital of King James in the County of Middlesex, because the King was our first Royal governor and today the official name is Sutton’s Hospital in Charterhouse.  Thomas Sutton founded the charity in 1611 with two objectives; to provide accommodation for up to eighty men who had “served their country well” and to provide an education for forty poor scholars.  The term hospital dates back to the days when this word was used to describe shelter rather than an exclusively medical centre.

What is a Governor?

The Charterhouse has 15 Governors (Charity Trustees) and three Royal Governors.  The responsibility for the management of the Charterhouse is vested in its Charity Trustees, who are the Governors. The Royal Governors and the Archiepiscopal Governor have no management responsibilities and are not Charity Trustees.  Each Governor takes a specific interest in the individual welfare of up to three Brothers.

What are the Charterhouse plans for the future?

The Charity’s objects continue to be the provision of accommodation and care for the Brothers and financial support to Charterhouse School.  The Governors are also aware of their responsibilities to maintain the Grade One listed historic buildings in which the Charity operates.  The specific steps that the Governors propose to take to implement their strategy can be summarised as follows:

  • To continue to promote all aspects of the welfare of the Brothers
  • To continue to maintain the highest standards of care in the Infirmary
  • To continue to provide income to support Charterhouse School
  • To increase public access to the Charterhouse

Public use of Charterhouse Square

The fenced area in Charterhouse Square is part of the private Charterhouse estate.  Within the last four years it has been changed from an unsightly private parking lot to a small park with lawns and meadow which the Charterhouse opens to the public from Tuesday to Sunday.  The Charterhouse has an arrangement with Charterhouse Square school to allow supervised play for the children during set times. The Charterhouse has a permit to use the Square for up to 12 licenced private events per year.  The Charterhouse also collaborates with various partners to host public events – eg concerts, outdoor theatre etc – during the course of the year.  Permission must be requested for any corporate photography or commercial business (eg personal training, sport etc) – please apply to our Events team.

Can I volunteer at the Charterhouse?

We would love to hear from volunteers. For more information on voluntary positions at the Charterhouse visit the Support Us page.

Can I attend the chapel services?

All our services are open to the public. The gatekeeper will be happy to admit anyone who would like to attend. Find out more about our services by visiting the Chapel page.

Learning FAQs