Charlton House

I set off early in order to visit Charlton House, the Jacobean mansion halfway between Greenwich and Woolwich which I haven’t visited since the early 1970s, Nairn in hand.

One climbs up the leafy suburban street from the railway station and finds, first, the old parish church of St. Luke, built, as was the house, by Sir Adam Newton, tutor to Henry, Prince of Wales.   Nice Jacobean tower and entrance porch:-

Then, nearly opposite is the Summer House, thought without evidence to be designed by Inigo Jones and now a Public Convenience (disused):-

The house itself is a strange and wonderful survival:-

Municipalised in the 1920s, it is now used as a public library on the ground floor, the first floor rented out to a language school.   It has some of the best Jacobean carving that I’ve ever seen.   First, a grand fireplace on the ground floor:-

Then good woodwork on the staircase:-

At the top of the house, in the Grand Saloon is a wonderfully vigorous piece of Jacobean classical carving, attributed in Pevsner to Nicholas Stone, master-mason to James I.   But it looks more successfully and convincingly classical than his funeral monuments:-

Of course, I wasn’t able to see all the house.   But I saw more than enough to convince me of its exceptional interest.


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