The amazing history of Charlton HouseOn September 23, 2020 by Jeremy Jagusch
Over the past seven years, it has been my privilege to write the majority of our shows. This also means that I’ve done quite a bit of research and learned some amazing things. The drawback to all of this learning is the fact that for each of our shows, there is only so much info that we can put into them. This is primarily due to time constraints…which can lead to moments of debate between the staff of what we can keep in. We often debate what year we are going to choose for our moment in time, and are spoiled by choice at every venue.
We’ve all heard the cliche “a picture tells 1000 stories”. Well, a historic venue has countless stories. Today I wanted to look at Charlton House located in London England. In 2018 we performed our show (now retired) called The Last Stand there. Specifically, I wanted to give some more background to the house itself and to our subjects of the show.
As you can see it a very beautifully built home. It was constructed over five years, ending in 1612 and built primarily of red brick and stone dressing. The house stands as a very unique bit of architecture. It combines the style of the Tudor age coupled with and the Jacobean period.
Take a moment and think of your life as it is now. Then picture yourself in 1612 as you walk through the beautiful interior that features contemporary staircases, paneled rooms, ornamental ceilings and chimney pieces…It’s easy to do in a house as beautifully preserved as this one.
During our show, we spoke about the house’s first owner, Sir Adam Newton, 1st Barronette. In fact, the crown had built the house mostly for him. Sir Adam Newton was a Scottish scholar who became the Dean of Durham Cathedral in 1605. However, perhaps his most important role during that time was the tutor to the Prince of Wales, Henry Frederick, son of King James I. This was a position Sir Adam Newton would hold for a decade. Newton translated King James’s Discourse against Vorstius and books i-vi. of Paolo Sarpi‘s History of the Council of Trent, a massive task!
Unfortunately, he would pass away on 13 January 1630. His executors David Cunningham of Auchenharvie and Peter Newton were instructed to use his legacy to rebuild the nearby St Luke’s Church, Charlton.
Though this may have been the end of Sir Adam Newton’s life, it would not be the end of the story for Chartlon House.
The home was eventually purchased by Sir William Ducie of Ireland. He would live there until his own passing in 1680. After the Viscount Downe‘s death, the home changed owners several times until 1877.
At some point, the house came into the ownership of Sir Spencer and Lady Maryon-Wilson. Though I couldn’t find much on them, they were clearly people of great compassion. During the First World War, Charlton House would go from housing nobles to housing the wounded. As the owners at the time, Sir Spencer and Lady Maryon-Wilson made the entire house available to the Red Cross to serve as an auxiliary hospital. It operated from 14 October 1918 to 30 April 1919, with around 70 beds.
In 1925, Charlton House would be sold to its current owner, the Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich. At Live History, we’re grateful for the fact that this amazing home still exists in such great condition. We are honoured as we got the chance to become footnote in this home’s amazing history. But more importantly than that, what better way to step back in time than to step foot in this three-hundred-year-old home and hear the voices of the past through every nook and cranny. This house just comes to life, thanks to the wonderful folks who work there and those who have made it their mission over the years to preserve it. If you get the chance we highly recommend going to visit Charlton House so you too can see this amazing part of history for yourselves.
Thanks very much for reading, we’ll see you in the past.