Revealing the Charterhouse

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017

 

Bakers of Danbury were Principal Contractors on the project “Revealing the Charterhouse”, an extensive conservation and restoration project to remodel the Grade I listed Charterhouse in central London to house a new museum.

Bakers of Danbury are a member of the National Churches Trust’s Professional Trades Directory with 135 years of traditional craftsmanship. 

Having been hidden from view and closed to the public for over 650 years, the Charterhouse was recently opened to public by Her Majesty the Queen.

The recently completed £4 million project, “Revealing the Charterhouse”, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, shares the Charterhouse’s heritage with the public by opening a new museum, as well as conserving and restoring the Charterhouse, Chapel, and Charterhouse Square.

History of the Charterhouse

Dating back to 1348, the land on which the Charterhouse stands was used as burial ground for up to 55,000 victims of the Black Death. A chapel was constructed here, and, in 1371, it became a monastery. 

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, buildings were left in ruins. After being rebuilt after 1545, it was used as a large courthouse for wealthy noblemen and housed royalty including Elizabeth I days before her coronation in 1558.

In 1611 the Thomas Sutton Charity made further alterations to the Charterhouse to home a boy’s school for 40 boys from poor families and an almshouse providing accommodation to a community traditionally known as Brothers, which it remains to this day.

The Chapel

Joined to the main building by a spacious Chapel Cloister is the 17th century Peculiar Chapel - it is overseen by an Ordinary (the Master) rather than a bishop. Little remains of the 15th century Carthusian chapter house which occupied the site of the south aisle of the present chapel, though the ante-chapel from 1512 still survives. The windows face Chapel Court, the site of the original 1349 church, a burial ground chapel for victims of the Black Death.

As part of the project, Bakers of Danbury carried out conservation and restoration works to the external fabric of the Chapel. The extensive fabric repairs include stone cleaning and lime mortar repointing to the whole chapel and tower, as well as the traditional method of shelter coating to help preserve the softer stone.

Kentish Ragstone and Elm Park Bath stone, supplied by Collins and Curtis Masonry, sympathetically replaced stone which was beyond repair.

The Chapel Cloister also underwent similar conservation and preservation works to its external walls including its impressive window voussoirs (wedge stones used to create arches). Works included cleaning, lime mortar repointing and shelter coating.

“Revealing the Charterhouse”

The project “Revealing the Charterhouse” not only opens the Charterhouse to the general public, but has made the historic gem visible to passers-by. Bakers of Danbury replaced hedges with new landscaping including entrance gates with the motto in old French “virtue is the only nobility”.

The redesign of the square was inspired by its 18th century layout. This included the installation of gas lamps, a new pavilion, new benches and the refurbishment of the Grade II listed entrance gates and railings surrounding the square.

A path of Scoutmoor Yorkstone leads through Chapel Court to the museum entrance. The new landscaping shows the footprint of the original Chapel walls, which were built in 1349 for the victims of the Black Death.

The new museum 

The project has remodelled part of the Grade I Listed building to house a new museum, with European Oak panelling and a painted plaster finish. A breathable silicate paint was used on existing solid walls, to prevent any moisture in the walls from ‘bubbling’ the paint.

The octagon coffered ceiling was designed to echo the octagon recess detail on the Chapel ceiling.

Bakers of Danbury carried out the base build for the new museum including climate control and secondary glazing. Bakers also relocated the sculpture representing Faith, Hope and Charity to its new location looking over the museum.

Ann Kenrick OBE, Master of the Charterhouse, said:

“We are hugely grateful for the works carried out by Bakers of Danbury and for their unwavering dedication to the Revealing the Charterhouse project." 

"The skilled craftsmen from Bakers work to an extremely high standard producing a finish which has exceeded all of our expectations.  They were a pleasure to work with, and we couldn’t be happier with their overall approach and diligence."

"I would recommend Bakers of Danbury to anyone.”

Bakers of Danbury Ltd

Founded over 130 years ago, Bakers of Danbury benefit from a team of experienced stonemasons, carpenters, joiners and other skilled tradesmen, some of whom have worked up through an apprenticeship scheme.

Having long been associated with many of historic and listed buildings, churches and monuments including St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, projects also encompass new builds and refurbishment.

As a principal contractor projects benefit from in-house stone masonry and joinery workshops which offer specialist stone cleaning and stone carving, woodcarving and architectural timberwork, as well as full design/manufacture service of bespoke joinery and furniture.

They are members of the National Churches Trust's Professional Trades Directory.

 

  • Chapel Court entrance

  • Chapel Court and bronze cast model

  • Conservation of the Chapel

  • Conservation of the Chapel

  • Norfolk Cloister with glazed screen

  • Her Majesty the Queen meets Bakers of Danbury Director Mark Holand (Richard Young Photography)

  • Bakers of Danbury