The Blitz in London began on 7 September 1940, and for 56 out of the following 57 days and nights the Luftwaffe launched attacks on major cities and industrial targets. The attacks continued into 1941, and on the evening of May 10th/11th the Charterhouse was hit by an incendiary bomb. Extensive damage was caused to the Great Chamber and the Great Hall; the chapel, however, did survive this extensive damage.
Our object of this month is the old chapel door, which serves as a constant reminder of the inferno that ripped through the Charterhouse during that night in May 1941. On that evening a Dr Harris of St Bartholomew’s medical college was on duty as a fire watcher. Up and down the country volunteers would give up their time to protect buildings, a dangerous task that would endanger their lives. It was due to the quick thinking of Dr Harris that the chapel was saved as it was he who had the presence of mind to close the door. After the flames were extinguished and the damage assessed the Chapel behind the charred door was left remarkably unscathed. The door unfortunately was no longer fit for purpose, though it had served its greatest purpose in protecting the chapel interiors. Today visitors can still experience the splendour the 17th Century chapel and the richly carved woodwork on the screen, pulpit and organ gallery.
Fortunately, there were no casualties on that evening, however due to the extensive damage it was decided that the Brothers should be moved out of the Charterhouse. The Brothers were sent to stay at Charterhouse School in Godalming, a quiet suburb in Surrey, a much safer option than central London. In 1947 extensive rebuilding work was carried out by the architects Seely and Paget. In 1958, Royal Governors Her Majesty the Queen accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Charterhouse to view the newly renovated site.
The door can still be seen today at the entrance to the chapel. Visits to our chapel are free and members of the public are welcome to join any of the daily services. If you can’t make it to the charterhouse and would like to learn more about the chapel, please follow the link below. http://www.thecharterhouse.org/explore-the-charterhouse/chapel/’