No. 33 Charterhouse Square EC1

This is a little white building I always enjoy walking past. It is the westernmost end of a thin terrace of warehouses and showrooms, lodged in a triangle between the road and the railway. As I passed it the other day I saw that the tree which has taken root above the door was putting out leaves, and flourishing in its unlikely place.

On the bottom right is Hayne Street, which forms a bridge over the railway lines. There is a dark deep gap. The buildings on the right are the other side of the railway. The railway lines are the Hammersmith and City, Circle, and Metropolitan underground lines, which emerge briefly into the open air at this point . This is good to know, in case you are trying to send a text message from the tube train.

33 Charterhouse Square (left) and Hayne Street EC1. 10″ x 7″ in sketchbook 9. 19 April 2021

Recently this building has been used as some sort of office or headquarters of the Farringdon Crossrail development which is now completed. The construction workers have left, and this building looks vacated and rather sad, but noble in its sadness.

Here are some maps1 (click to enlarge):

Here are some photos of the location and work in progress.

The drawing was done at about 17:30 at the end of a gloriously sunny day. The colours here are: Transparent Brown Oxide, Fire Gold Ochre, Phthalo Blue Turquoise, Buff Titanium, Mars Yellow. There is Transparent Pyrrol Orange for the road sign and the leaves of the tree are Green Gold. The paper is Arches Aquarelle 300gsm.

This building was completed in 1875-6. The architect was the aptly named Coutts Stone. This and other fascinating and detailed information is in the scholarly “Survey of London” 2008 edition.

Here is their entry on the row of houses on the South side of Charterhouse Square. I have drawn number 33, the westernmost section.

Nos 33–43

The Metropolitan Railway acquired the whole of the south side of Charterhouse Square and emptied the properties in order to construct their extension from Farringdon to Moorgate in 1864–5. The cutting of the railway entailed the demolition of Nos 32–38 on the south side of the square, along with the whole of Thomas Neale’s Charterhouse Street. Nos 39–43 were briefly left standing, but the operation left the whole south side as an awkward set of narrow sites whose amenities were further diminished by the new east—west thoroughfare completed in front of them in 1873–4 (Ill. 338).

In 1875 the railway company sold the whole frontage to Tubbs, Lewis & Co., manufacturers of elastic fabric, silk throwsters, warehousemen and ‘smallware agents’, with premises in the City, Birmingham and Manchester, and a manufacturing base in Gloucestershire. The firm also had a line in the speculative building of warehouses at this period, on which they spent about a quarter of a million pounds. The row which they erected here was one of several local developments they carried out during the mid-1870s, including Charterhouse Buildings at the corner of Goswell and Clerkenwell Roads . The company chose as its architect Coutts Stone, a friend of George Devey. Early drawings suggest there was some thought of rebuilding from No. 38 eastwards with houses , but in the event the whole block became warehousing. Construction took place in 1876–7. Andrew Killby was the builder for Nos 33–42, with interior structural ironwork provided by H. Young & Co.; Scrivener & White took on the separate No. 43.

Nos 33–42 (Ill. 341) stand four storeys above a basement protected by heavy iron railings. The block is divided into three sections. The front elevation, faced in red brick, has a strong horizontal emphasis, with broad banks of mullioned windows relieved by some minor brick detailing. No. 43 has a narrower frontage and an extra storey topped by a pediment, while its main windows are of iron and flanked by decorated pilasters.

Tenants for these warehouses were mainly involved in the textile trades. At No. 41 one of the original occupants was Griswold & Hainworth Ltd, early specialists in portable knitting machines for domestic use.  In the early 1890s the whole of No. 40 was occupied by David Marcus, importer and agent of Eastern manufactured goods: ‘The basement is reserved as a show-room for Oriental carpets and furniture; the ground floor is divided in front into a splendid show-room, and at the rear forms the wellappointed office; while the upper floors are fully utilised as show and stock-rooms’. In 1917 No. 42 became the first premises of J. Collett Ltd, ladies’ hat makers; they gradually took in Nos 41 and 43 and spread elsewhere in the square. The projecting clock which survives at No. 43 was put up by them in 1930. Though there were still four clothing firms here in the mid-1970s, there had been a shift towards printing, illustration and white-collar work. Since then most of the row has been fitted out as offices and studios, including No. 41 by Campbell Zogolovitch Wilkinson Gough (CZWG) in 1980 for the pop artist Allen Jones. “

1 Citation for text above and map:   BHO  Chicago  MLA ‘Charterhouse Square area: Introduction; Charterhouse Square’, in Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell, ed. Philip Temple (London, 2008), pp. 242-265. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2021].

Update: here is a tweet from @nicholas_sack, (4th Sept 2021) with a wonderful photo of the same building, 20 years ago.

Preachers Court in the snow

It has been snowing now for several days. Robin invited me to sketch The Charterhouse in the snow, and suggested a viewpoint from the second floor of the Infirmary.

March 1st 2018 (Preachers Court in the snow)

From here I could see all three of the Barbican Towers. Someone was clearing snow in the foreground, but they moved on before I could get them in the picture.

It was a good place to sketch, warm and quiet. I could hear the muffled sounds of the nurses moving about below, and of the Brothers who were in the infirmary. Sometimes they called out.

Here is what the picture looked like before the colour went on.

March 1st 2018 (Preachers Court in the snow)BW

This picture took about 2 hours: One hour for the pencil outline, half an hour for the pen, and half an hour for the colour – roughly. It took ages to get the proportions right. Especially in the snow, the eye sees detail in far-away objects, so the temptation is to draw them too big.

After I handed in my visitor’s badge at the gate, I went out into Charterhouse Square. I looked back at the Chapel. And did a quick pen sketch, standing in the snow.

March 1st 2018 (Chapel from Charterhouse Square)

This took about 10 minutes, coloured later on my desk at home.

Thank you to Robin, and to the Brothers, Master and staff at the Charterhouse for their hospitality.


Corner of Masters Court, and crane

This morning I was again sketching in The Charterhouse. I’ve wanted to sketch in Masters Court, which has a fine façade on the Great Hall. But when I got there I preferred this view of the dark North West corner. Also there was a convenient seat.

I thought this view would be simple, but it wasn’t. The angle of those two roofs was a challenge.

While I was drawing, Mark came to mend the paving. He removed a heavy section of stone, and reset it. He looked at what I was doing. I asked him whether I should put in the crane, which loomed above the roof, and whose motor was clearly audible in the quiet courtyard. “Well,” said Mark, “it’s there!”

So I put the crane in. Then I met Robin, who asked if I would put in the crane driver, who was also visible at that point. So yes, the crane driver is in there too.

Here’s the picture:

January 30th 2018 (Masters Court)

Here are some pictures of the painting in the location. You can see the colour of the stone. Also there is the picture in pen and ink before the colour went on.


1hour45minutes, drawn and coloured on location. Very cold (6 degrees C), but dry.

Charterhouse: North-East Corner of Preachers Court

It was a very cold day. The sun threw sharp shadows of the tree on the wall. Then the sun went in and the shadows disappeared.

A Brother was smoking in the cloister, under cover. Gardeners came by.

November 28th 2017 (Preachers Court NE Colour)


Here is the sketch before the colour went on:

November 28th 2017 (Preachers Court NE BW)

The Chapel at the Charterhouse

Here are three sketches done inside the Chapel at the Charterhouse.

There is a quiet recording of religious songs in there. The sound makes the place calm. People speak softly.

The Charterhouse: Gate to Stable Court

Here is a drawing from the first floor windows of manasian&co, who are based in Pensioners Court,

Thank you to the people at manasian who gracefully accepted a stranger into their studio, and brought me cups of tea while I looked out of their window. They were all working hard at their screens.

November 22nd 2017 (Pensioners Court)

Two hours 15minutes.

The Charterhouse, Pensioners’ Court, South West Corner

Here is a sketch from the first floor windows of manasian and co, a strategic brand consultancy with offices in Pensioners’ Court.

October 23rd 2017

I like the way the newer buildings are visible above the old ones, placing The Charterhouse in its 21st Century context. Behind me in the office, people worked on large screens, making pictures, and talking gently with each other across the desks. Outside, a gardener in a red raincoat clipped at the plants, dragging a large basket behind her, for the clippings.

The Charterhouse: entrance to Preachers’ Court

Here is the entrance to Preachers’ Court in The Charterhouse. The Admiral Ashmore Building is on the left.

While I was drawing this, Stanley Underhill, a Brother, came to chat. He has catalogued the Charterhouse art collection, he told me. It took him seven years. He wrote a book “Charterhouse Art” which is in the shop.

He told me the dates on the buildings. The Admiral Ashmore Building – 2000. In the background, the building with the castellations, 1840, and the ancient building on the right, 1530.

September 20th 2017

I drew this picture in a new book, which is 10 inches by 11inches.


The larger size meant that the picture took longer.

3 hours, drawn and coloured on location.

The Charterhouse, West Wall


Here is a sketch looking towards the Main Gate of The Charterhouse. The building with the curved gables is now the Pavior’s House, which is occupied by the Pavior’s Livery Company:

The Worshipful Company of Paviors moved into a new home in 2010. The Company has a long lease on a Grade 1 listed property formerly known as ‘The Master’s Cottage’ at Sutton’s Hospital in the Charterhouse. The property has been refurbished and is now known as Paviors’ House. – From the website of the Worshipful Company of Paviors, 14 Sept 2017.

Pavior means one who lays paving stones, and the modern livery company retains links with the paving industry.

This drawing was a lot more difficult than I expected. I was very pleased to get all the high walls in the background onto the one page. I liked the way they tower above the lower buildings. And all the architecture is different periods. The Tudor buildings of Charterhouse are on the left.

The drawing took 2hours45minutes.

Here is what it looked like before I coloured it:


Charterhouse have now created notecards using my pictures.