Charterhouse School by designed by Sir Philip Charles Hardwick (with later additions by Sir Arthur Blomfield, W.D. Caroe, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and others). 1872. Goldalming, Surrey. [Click on thumbnail for larger image.]
Charterhouse School was founded in the seventeenth century by Thomas Sutton, a wealthy commoner who had made his money largely through the Durham coalfields. Having bought up the Earl of Suffolk's mansion in London, on the site of an old Carthusian priory, he had the building converted for use as an almshouse, school, and chapel. The school was originally intended for poor bright pupils, but was destined to become one of the great English public schools. In 1872 it moved down to Godalming in Surrey, under the direction of the then headmaster, William Haig Brown (1823-1907), who was in charge of the school from 1867 to 1897. The new school, built to the design of Sir Philip Charles Hardwick, is one of the most impressive examples of the Victorian Gothic style. Local Bargate stone was used, and this has a warmth that adds greatly to its attraction. The hall, known simply as Hall, was added in 1884 (according to the school guide; or 1885 according to the DNB) by the architect Sir Arthur Blomfield, who had been articled to Hardwick. Hall is adorned with a pinnacle spire, gargoyles, and heraldic shields. The latter, kept brightly painted, bear the family arms of the headmaster and some of the assistant masters of that period.
There are many other points of interest, such as the imposing central tower, which is not in fact a bell-tower but a water tower; the library part of Hall, with its original ventilation gables; the cloisters which hark back to the school's Carthusian connection; the Science Block (1882, 1907 and 1920) with its Old Carthusian clock, bells, and green-domed observatory; the Venetian well-head in the middle of Scholars' Court; and the striking Memorial Chapel (1922-1927) with lancet windows, built to a design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the largest war memorial in the country.
Among the school's most famous pupils at the old site were Richard Crashaw, Richard Lovelace, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, John Wesley and William Makepeace Thackeray — who gradually softened in his stance towards the place and left a sentimental account of it as Grey Friars in The Newcomes. Roger Williams (1604-1683), the founder of Rhode Island, was also educated there. Famous pupils at the Surrey site have included Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement (Baden-Powell was one of the pupils who moved to Godalming with the school); Sir Max Beerbohm, the cartoonist; Ralph Vaughan Williams, the composer; and the writer Robert Graves.
The Charterhouse: A Guide. English Heritage, 2000. Available from the school bookshop. Useful for the school's history, but note that this is really a guide to the London site.
The DNB entry on Sir Arthur Blomfield.
"A Walk Round Charterhouse." An informative leaflet accompanied by a map, available from the school.
For further details, see Anthony Quick's Charterhouse: A History of the School (Charterhouse School, 1990) and the school website, www.charterhouse.org.uk/ (go to Prospectus).
Last modified 18 June 2006