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Much ado about events on Charterhouse Square

Row with neighbours over plans for Shakespeare performances on former monastery site

03 August, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

William Ross-Fawcett, Charlotte Driessler, Mark Collier, Sian, Eleanor Green, Eleanor Chaganis, Ross Ford, Lucy Green and Luke Wilson from The HandleBards touring theatre group, who have performed at Charterhouse Square

IT started life as a Carthusian monastery in the heart of London almost 700 years ago, but after the Dissolution of Monasteries in the 16th century, the Charterhouse has served as a private mansion, a boys’ school and almhouses.

The charity has, however, found itself in a row with local residents about plans to use the Charterhouse Square – the green space covering a 14th-century plague pit – for events.

Ann Kenrick OBE, Master of the Charter­house, said it wants to hold a limited number of “low-key civilised events”, such as perfor­mances of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night.

But after applying for a licence to sell alcohol, play music, and show plays and films, it has faced opposition from neighbours, including over noise. One has also said: “We also under­stand the square to be a burial ground. As such it seems greatly disrespect­ful to party on the graves of Londoners.”

Charterhouse Square

After a public meeting and discussions with the council for an 8am-11pm licence, the charity has reduced the hours to 11am-10pm. It said it will only hold 10 events on the site per year.

In the documents, due before the licensing sub-com­mittee next month, another resident said: “But opening up the square garden for public events on the scale proposed – as though it were Hyde Park and not a relatively small patch of green space in one of London’s most congested neighbour­hoods – would be utterly and completely wrong, and must not be allowed to go ahead”.

A director of Florin Court Management Limited, which represents flats in Charterhouse Square, also objected and sugges­ted the Charter­house applies for special licences for specific events it wants to hold.

Ms Kenrick said in a statement: “Having submitted an application to hold a limited number of low-key civilised events, the Charterhouse is aware of misunder­standings and concerns raised, and is working with local people and the relevant departments in Islington Council to resolve the issues.

“We have regular residents’ meetings, the last was in May, and have made several offers to meet those with objections before the next scheduled date. Any event will be overseen by the charity and we are always very keen to keep noise to a minimum and finish all events by 10pm to ensure a good night’s sleep for the residents of our 400-year-old almshouse and to maintain good rela­tions with local residents.”


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