Sunday, 7 May 2017

Let’s draw the Charterhouse and Clerkenwell - Saturday 17 June 2017

Charterhouse sketch by Gafung Wong
We will visit two locations: Charterhouse Square and neighbouring Clerkenwell. In Charterhouse Square is the Charterhouse, an ancient former monastery and chapel, which has very recently been partly opened to the public, with a new museum. Clerkenwell is an interesting neighbourhood, with a mix of old and new buildings and a concentration of design professions. We will visit the St John’s Gate and museum, including its beautiful Cloister Garden.

The day is free of charge, no need to book, just turn up with your art kit.

This location replaces the visit to the Inns of Court proposed on our original 2017 programme.

Key times and meeting points for the day:

11am: Meet at Charterhouse Square, in front of the Charterhouse museum (see photograph above) or just inside the museum if wet.

1pm: Meet at the museum to look at drawings done so far.

3.30pm: Meet outside the Cloister Garden, St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, (see photograph below) or just inside the entrance if wet, to look at drawings done, and take group photographs.

Options for drawing include:

Charterhouse Square has recently been re-landscaped and opened to the public, and provides a quiet, leafy environment to draw the surrounding historic buildings

The Charterhouse and chapel (exteriors) founded in 1371

The Charterhouse museum and chapel interior (free admission)

St John’s Gate, Clerkenwell, a Tudor gatehouse which can be drawn from either side as traffic is not allowed to pass through.

Museum of the Order of St John (free admission)

The Cloister Garden which grows many of the medicinal plants which would have been in use at the priory.

Street scenes, shops, and cafes in Clerkenwell.


The Charterhouse was founded in 1371 as a monastery for the Carthusian order. In the early seventeenth century it became the home of a charitable foundation, providing a school (now in Surrey) and a home for poor elderly men. It still provides sheltered housing for forty elderly ‘brothers’ (although they are not monks) in part of the building. A new museum has been developed in part of this historic building, and earlier this year the museum, chapel and part of the building were opened to the public for the first time.

Neighbouring Clerkenwell provides a mix of old and new. It is a short walk from Charterhouse Square to St John’s Gate, on St John’s Lane. This Tudor gatehouse houses the Museum of the Order of St John, showing something of the area’s history. This gatehouse and the remaining parts of the twelfth century church on the other side of Clerkenwell Road, are remnants of the Priory of the Knights of St John, which is the precursor of the St John’s Ambulance. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the offices of the Master of the Revels were located in these buildings and Shakespeare visited to license many of his plays.

Clerkenwell has a complex history, and now has many fashionable shops, craft galleries, bars and restaurants, with interesting side streets and pedestrianised areas. The area has a concentration of design-focussed businesses.

Practical information

The nearest underground station is Barbican. Leaving the station, you are on Aldersgate Street. Turn left and soon turn left again, on to Carthusian Street, and you will see the trees of Charterhouse Square ahead of you. Once in Charterhouse Square, walk round the Square to the right and you will see the Charterhouse and museum. Thackeray’s Café is the museum café, and there are other cafes and shops near the underground station and in Clerkenwell.

In the afternoon, from Charterhouse Square, walk down Charterhouse Street to the back of Smithfield Market, turn right up St John Street, and fork left up St John’s Lane. You will see St John’s Gate ahead of you. The Cloister Garden is further up St John’s Lane, on the other side of Clerkenwell Road, in St John’s Square.

If wet, we can draw inside the Charterhouse Museum and chapel, and at the Museum of the Order of St John in Clerkenwell. There are toilets in both the museums.

The day is run by Jo Dungey and Gafung Wong


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