The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on Tuesday went to Charterhouse in London where Her Majesty opened a museum, learning centre and square. As they arrived, they were greeted by local school children. The residents of the centuries-old almshouse refer to each other as ‘brothers,’ and both The Queen and Duke are associated with them because they are known to extend to them invitations to royal events like garden parties, lunches and Trooping the Colour.
While there, the Duke joked with an 81-year-old brother. Mr Matthews is a retired cathedral organist, and he told The Mirror: “The last time I was at the Palace, he (the Duke), said to me ‘you look emaciated’ and this time he said to me ‘you look starved’ and I said to him ‘well they do look after us very well here’.
He continued: “He always likes to leave you with a smile, a little joke, and he did the same again.”
Mr Matthews is one of approximately 45 men living at Charterhouse. He played the National Anthem on a chapel organ while The Queen unveiled a plaque for the occasion.
About the invitations they receive, he said: “We can’t prompt them. We get these invitations from time to time, and it’s lovely for us personally to do it, but also it’s lovely they keep up this historic connection with Charterhouse.”
The site where Charterhouse is located dates back to the middle of the 14th century. Hidden behind a square in Clerkenwell, it was originally a cemetery for victims of the Black Death. It’s a massive complex with several buildings from different centuries including a Carthusian monastery, Tudor mansion, Jacobean hospital and other buildings.
Thomas Sutton bought the land in the early 17th century. He endowed his wealth to a charitable foundation to educate young boys and care for elderly men. Today, Charterhouse is home to members of diverse communities – artists, clergy and academia.