History & Archives
Charterhouse is one of the great historic schools of England and among the most beautiful.
The founder, Thomas Sutton, held high public office and through shrewd investment became one of the wealthiest men in Jacobean England.
In 1611, the year of his death, Sutton made provision for the establishment of a hospital for pensioners and a school for boys. Buildings near Smithfield in London which had once housed a Carthusian monastery, established in the fourteenth century, were purchased, and Sutton was buried in the chapel. Pupils have always been referred to as Carthusians.
A few years later, the Headmaster, Robert Brooke, a royalist, was dismissed by Cromwell. The masters used to meet in his study and the Charterhouse common room is still known today as Brooke Hall. Brooke's courageous independence of mind is a quality nurtured in their pupils by the present teaching staff who are known collectively as members of Brooke Hall.
In response to the recommendations of the Public Schools Commission of 1864, and with the support of the Headmaster, William Haig Brown, the Governors eventually agreed to move the School from London. They purchased 68 and a half acres of the Deanery Farm Estate, just outside Godalming, having sold the School's original site to Merchant Taylors'. The School arrived in Godalming in June 1872, with 120 boys in three boarding houses: Saunderites (Headmaster's House), Verites and Gownboys. An increase in pupil numbers led to further houses being built at the expense of those masters whose names they now bear. By 1921, all eight additional houses had become the property of the Governing Body. Further purchases of land to the north and west increased the size of the School's grounds to around 250 acres.
The magnificent chapel, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, was consecrated in 1927 as a memorial to nearly 700 Carthusians who died in the Great War. It is the largest war memorial in England. Some 350 names have been added to commemorate those who died in the Second World War and other conflicts of the twentieth century. Close to the chapel stands a bright red telephone box, another of Scott's distinctive designs.
More recent additions to the campus include seven new Houses built in the 1970s, the Art Studio, the John Derry Technology Centre, the Ben Travers Theatre, the Ralph Vaughan Williams Music Centre, the Halford Hewitt Golf Course, the Queen's Sports Centre, the Sir Greville Spratt athletics track, Chetwynd Hall (a hall of residence for girls), the Modern Languages Centre, The Hunt Health Centre and Fletcherites (a new House launched in 2010). A new Science and Mathematics Centre was completed in 2018, and girls' Houses were established in 2019 (Chetwynd, Fletcherites and Sutton). Northbrook, a new girls' House, opened in 2021.
The Charterhouse School Archive (in Godalming) contains the records of the School's activities and administration since 1872. Some registers and printed annual form lists for earlier years in the nineteenth century were transferred when the School moved from London, and a few papers, letters and albums relating to the period before the move have been given by former masters and pupils. Otherwise all earlier records of Thomas Sutton's 1611 foundation, including scholars, are held in the London Metropolitan Archive.
The Charterhouse Archive contains the official records of the School, but also a wide range of information and photographs covering every aspect of Carthusian life, and collections relating to the lives of Old Carthusians as diverse as Thackeray, Baden Powell, Beerbohm, Vaughan Williams and Ronald Millar. The archive is available to the School community as an educational and administrative resource, and we also welcome research enquiries from the general public.