This painting represents an imaginary scene of the Carthusian martyrs at Tyburn on 4 May 1535. It depicts John Houghton, Prior of the London Charterhouse together with Robert Lawrence, Prior of Beauvale, Augustine Webster, Prior of Axholme and Richard Reynolds, a monk from Syon Abbey. They had been convicted of treason, for refusing to acknowledge that King Henry VIII was the Supreme Head of the Church of England, and were sentenced to death by being hanged, drawn and quartered.
The artist Andrew Benjamin Donaldson did much of his training at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. He also trained in Rome. He developed his skills in the mid-19th century and his work was heavily influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite movement. He primarily depicted both landscapes and imagined scenes from history and mythology. The painting was only discovered recently in a basement at Charterhouse School in Godalming. It was cleaned and restored in March 2010 and is now on display in the Charterhouse Chapel.
Although the work is a very strong, emotional piece which attempts to convey the suffering and dignity with which the martyrs met their end – it doesn’t tell the whole story. This August why not join us to learn more about the story of the Carthusian martyrs. Tours run daily and show what remains of the areas where Prior Houghton lived and worshipped. If you are unable to make a tour why not join one of our free 10 minute talks on the Martyrs. Please check the What’s On page for more details.