CHARTERHOUSE. This name is an English corruption of the French maison chartreuse, a religious house of the Carthusian order. As such it occurs not uncommonly in England, in various places (e.g. Charterhouse-on-Mendip, Charterhouse Hinton) where the Carthusians were established. It is most familiar, however, in its application to the Charterhouse, London. On a site near the old city wall, west of the modern thoroughfare of Aldersgate, a Carthusian monastery was founded in 1371 by Sir Walter de Manny, a knight of French birth. After its dissolution in 1535 the property passed through various hands. In 1558, while in the possession of Lord North, it was occupied by Queen Elizabeth during the preparations for her coronation, and James I. held court here on his first entrance into London. The Charterhouse was then in the hands of Thomas Howard, earl of Suffolk, but in May 1611 it came into those of Thomas Sutton (1532-1611) of Snaith, Lincolnshire. He acquired a fortune by the discovery of coal on two estates which he had leased near Newcastle-on-Tyne, and afterwards, removing to London, he carried on a commercial career. In the year of his death, which took place on the 12th of December 1611, he endowed a hospital on the site of the Charterhouse, calling it the hospital of King James; and in his will he bequeathed moneys to maintain a chapel, hospital (almshouse) and school. The will was hotly contested but upheld in court, and the foundation was finally constituted to afford a home for eighty male pensioners ("gentlemen by descent and in poverty, soldiers that have borne arms by sea or land, merchants decayed by piracy or shipwreck, or servants in household to the King or Queen's Majesty"), and to educate forty boys. The school developed beyond the original intentions of its founder, and now ranks among the most eminent public schools in England. In 1872 it was removed, during the headmastership (1863-1897) of the Rev. William Haig-Brown (d. 1907), to new buildings near Godalming in Surrey, which were opened on the 18th of June in that year. The number of foundation scholarships is increased to sixty. The scholars are not now distinguished by wearing a special dress or by forming a separate house, though one house is known as Gownboys, preserving the former title of the scholars. The land on which the old school buildings stood in London was sold for new buildings to accommodate the Merchant Taylors' school, but the pensioners still occupy their picturesque home, themselves picturesque figures in the black gowns designed for them under the foundation. The buildings, of mellowed red brick, include a panelled chapel, in which is the founder's tomb, a fine dining-hall, governors' room with ornate ceiling and tapestried walls, the old library, and the beautiful great staircase.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)