“Hearing that I was being offered a place here at the Charterhouse was the most lovely birthday present!” exclaims Sue Payn, one of our most recent arrivals here at the almshouse. Sue is only the third woman resident we’ve welcomed to the Charterhouse since the decision was made to overturn the men-only rule that had been in place since 1611 when the almshouse was founded. All the residents are still referred to as Brothers – a legacy from the early days of the charity – and there has been some debate about what female residents should be referred to. Sue – and, so far, her fellow women residents too – have said they’re actually quite happy to be called Brothers!
Sue has had a career in administration for the MoD, so, as she cheerily puts it, “I’m used to having men around!” She made the decision to apply when, after years living in a hostel, she felt the need for a change. “I loved the community feel of the hostel,” she says, “but it was starting to feel a bit less secure.” She had visited the Charterhouse before – she has a friend who lives here – and at the time had wondered if she would fit in here. Having visited again a little more recently – she could feel a strong appeal of the place and its close-knit community.
Sue has been settling in over the past few weeks, with a friend helping her find furniture, and moving her belongings in. Sitting in her room, with the light streaming in through the leaded windows, she looks very happy and surrounded by the things she loves.
“I absolutely love it here,” she says, particularly as she was lucky enough to be given the rooms she particularly liked. “It’s such a beautiful setting – romantic and historic – and it’s so lovely to have these wonderful private gardens.”
“It means you don’t have to be so reliant on visiting parks,” she adds. However Sue is also keen to get out and about. “I’ve brought my bike with me,” she says, “and I’ve been cycling around to get my bearings.”
All the Brothers eat together in the Great Hall – and tend always to sit on the same table. Sue has really enjoyed meeting everyone on her table – “They have been so sweet!” she says. “They have all been welcoming and have even arranged drinks, so there’s been a nice social opportunity for me to meet more of the Brothers.”
Sue welcomes the Charterhouse being open to the public – and is rather keen to take advantage of all the events on offer.
Looking very contented in her living room, with flowers, her photos, and Classic FM playing in the background, it’s so nice to see Sue so absolutely sure she’s found the place she wants to be. “It’s a real home,” she says.