Welcome to my blog

This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!

Sunday, 7 February 2016


Charterhouse Square, close to the City of London is home to Sutton's Hospital in Charterhouse more commonly referred to as London Charterhouse. Originally a Carthusian monastery, it has been a private mansion, boy's school and is today an almshouse. The monastery was built in 1371 on land used as a  plague pit following the Black Death epidemic of 1348

In 2013, during excavations for London's Crossrail project a number of human skeletons were found at the edge of Charterhouse Square confirming that this area between the lands of the Abbey of Westminster and those of St John of Jerusalem (known as No Man's Land) had indeed been used as a plague pit.

You enter the Charterhouse through this15th cent wooden gate. The monastery was one of 9 Carthusian houses built in England. It housed  a prior and 24 monks who lived in two storey houses around the cloister.

There was already a small chapel there erected  by the Bishop of London who was shocked at the internment of plague victims buried on unsanctified ground. The chapel became the church for the monastery and parts of the medieval brickwork can be seen today behind the wooden cladding.

In 1535 the monks refused to accept Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy. The Prior was hanged, drawn and quartered with one of his severed arms pinned to the Gatehouse, with the others also executed. The monastery then became the property of the Crown. A number of members of the nobility lived here including Lord North who constructed a Tudor mansion on the land. Elizabeth I stayed at Charterhouse prior to entering the City of London when she became Queen in 1558.

In 1611 the mansion was bought by Thomas Sutton, the wealthiest commoner in England and this enabled the continued existence of this building to the present day.  He used his wealth to set up a charitable foundation to educate boys and to care for elderly men. The school became the well-known public school, Charterhouse which moved to Godalming, Surrey in 1872. The almshouse continues today and provides a home for 40 pensioners. It has its own infirmary, laundry and of course, kitchens.

I took a tour around the Charterhouse last week which was given by one of the residents. Although elderly, his recall of historical events and dates was wonderful and he was a very entertaining guide.

Looking back at the photos I took I can't recall the dates of the different parts of the building so just enjoy the visual tour and if you have time to spare, when visiting London, I would suggest booking a tour to see the Charterhouse, only one of three medieval buildings in London that are still in use. The other two are Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.

Thomas Sutton's tomb in the chapel.

The talbot, part of Sutton's coat of arms is much in evidence in the building.

Part of the Tudor mansion.

The Great Hall, now used as a dining room by the present residents, has much of its interiors intact from the 1570s.

17th cent graffiti

The old merges with the new.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Museum of St John

St John's gate is the entrance to the former Priory of the Knights of St John.  The Museum of St John tells the story from  the order of St John in Jerusalem to the role of St John's Ambulance  today.

It is a small museum but very informative charting the history of the order. The order of St John was founded in Jerusalem to care for pilgrims travelling to the Holy land. As the order grew they were given lands in England and other parts of Europe which provided food, money and people for their work. The order of St John has occupied land here in Clerkenwell since 1140 when the land was donated to the Knights for the building of their Priory which became the Knights English headquarters. Three religious communities resided here - the Priory of St John, the Nunnery of St Mary and later the Charterhouse.

Near to St John's gate and the museum  is the Priory Church of the order of St John of Jerusalem. It was consecrated in 1185 but destroyed by enemy action in 1941. However the 12th cent crypt still remains.
When Henry VIII  broke from the church of Rome and became Head of the Church of England in 1534 he began to close religious houses and communities throughout England and Wales with all their wealth transferring to the Crown.

In 1540 King Henry VIII took the order's property including the Priory at Clerkenwell.

In 1874 Sir Edmund Lechmere, a member of the modern British order of St John's, bought St John's Gate and had it renovated. It was from here that the work of the Order and St John Ambulance around the world began. In 1888 Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter to the British Order of St John and it became a Royal Order of Chivalry.

The founders of St John wanted the organisation to resume the original ethos of caring for the sick as well as being an order of chivalry. The organisation was the first to give medical knowledge to the public in the form of First Aid classes. The founders also set up Britain's first system of care and treatment for victims of accidents. In 1877 St John Ambulance Association was formed.

Today the headquarters of St John Ambulance is  next door to St John's Gate.

Sharing with Our World Tuesday

Friday, 29 January 2016

St John's Gate

This is an old photo of St John's Gate, Clerkenwell London from the Museum of St John( more about that in a later post). The Museum window is reflected just where the gate used to be.  

 This is how the gate looks today.

Sharing with James at Weekend Reflections

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Hercule Poirot's home

In Charterhouse Square on the boundary of the City of London is this block of art deco apartments.

Some of you might recognise it as 'Whitehaven Mansions', Hercule Poirot's home in the TV series  'Poirot'. Built in the mid 1930s it makes the perfect location for Poirot which is set during that period.