Object highlights

A small selection from the very diverse collection here at the Charterhouse, dating back to the 14th century


Water map, c. 1431
This rare manuscript records the system of water pipes, gutters and cisterns installed in the early 1430s. The pipes brought fresh water to the monastery from wells and springs in the fields to the north.

The community living at the Charterhouse needed a reliable supply of fresh water if they were to be self-sufficient. The monks’ water system remained functional for many years and is recorded on a series of four maps dating from c.1431 to c.1625.

On a visit to our museum you can see the second of these maps which records repairs following a bequest by King Henry VII after his death in 1509.

Tapestry, early 17th century
This tapestry is one of a set of eight which were purchased by the first Governors of the Charterhouse in 1615 to decorate the newly converted buildings. They are Flemish in origin and were purchased from Edmund Traves, possibly a London merchant, at a cost of £148 8s. This is the largest tapestry in the set and depicts the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon. The tapestries have been restored several times over the centuries and in May 1941 when a fire spread through the building, the tapestries were fortunately removed before the flames reached them.

Pair of George II Baluster-Shaped Mugs, made by the London maker ‘TF’, 1740
These mugs dates to the middle of George II’s reign and feature slightly inverted moulded rims and capped scroll handles on ringed spreading feet. They are fairly plain in appearance with exception of the hospital’s coat of arms engraved on the front. The base of each mug is inscribed ‘Charterhouse May 1739’ and features the maker’s mark ‘TF’.  As Prince of Wales, George was elected a Governor of the Charterhouse in 1716 however the assembly meeting at which he was elected was the only meeting he ever attended.

The Charter-House Hospital, engraved by William Henry Toms, 18th century
This print is based on an original drawing by Johannes Kip, created between 1688 and 1694, the century that Sutton’s school and almshouse were founded. It was later engraved by Toms for William Maitland’s The History of London, from its Foundation by the Romans to the present time published in 1739. Visitors to the Charterhouse will recognise many of the spaces depicted including Master’s Court with the porch and coat of arms, testifying to the fact that the appearance of the site has changed little over the years.

Porcelain tureen, 19th century
This tureen is one of a selection of charming objects which hint at the importance of dining at the Charterhouse over the years. It was manufactured by Mintons, then a leading Staffordshire pottery company, and is printed with the arms of Sutton’s Hospital and its motto Deo Dedi Dante (because God has given, I give). Meals are central to the community life of the almshouse where Brothers come together daily for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner in the Tudor Great Hall.

String of Pearls, by Syd Cain, 2002
This watercolour cartoon was created by Brother Syd Cain in 2002, the year he was admitted to the almshouse. The work was inspired by the Charterhouse’s efforts to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of our Royal Governor, HM The Queen, which included a small exhibition, public tours and the production of commemorative mugs. Syd proposed a selection of alternative dress inspired by the organisation’s history from medieval monk to Tudor musician. Syd became a Brother following a career in the film industry during which he was art director for Cliff Richard’s 1963 hit Summer Holiday.