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.”
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.”