Hidden behind high walls near the Barbican can be found the last surviving Tudor Great Chamber in London, within the Charterhouse estate.
The Great Chamber was originally built by Edward North in the 1540s, and referred to as the ‘Throne Room’ after Elizabeth I held her first Privy Council there before being crowned Queen of England.
The Chamber was the backdrop to decades of Tudor intrigue and plotting and remained the jewel in this grand Tudor Mansion until it suffered serious bomb damage during WW2. After the war a major project was initiated to renovate the room to match the one remaining undamaged section.
The Charterhouse was itself largely sealed off from the public until fairly recently, when a new museum about the site opened up to the public, and they also run regular tours of the rest of the estate.
The Charterhouse has now been awarded nearly £400,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to fund restoration of the Great Chamber. Additional funding from The Wolfson Foundation, the Linbury Trust, and the Schroder Foundation will also support the project.
A significant new development will be the moving of the Charterhouse’s most notable portraits onto the walls of the Chamber. They include portraits of the Duke of Monmouth, the Earl of Craven, the Duke of Buckingham, Gilbert Sheldon (Archbishop of Canterbury), Anthony Ashely Cooper – first Earl of Shaftesbury and Charles II. Evacuated during WW2, the significance of the art collection was largely lost and was only recently rediscovered.
The new design references several different architectural schemes from different centuries. The colours from the fireplace and overmantel (dating from the 16th and 17th centuries) will be carried throughout the space and a green silk moire will provide the backdrop for collection of Restoration portraits. The floor will be replaced with boards of varying sizes and widths, referencing its post-Reformation origins.
Once renovated the intention is to attract new audiences to concerts, exhibitions, and other events to raise income for the Charterhouse charity – the almshouse originally established in 1611 and still operating today.