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The Shene Charterhouse

A Scheduled Monument in Isleworth, Hounslow

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Latitude: 51.4677 / 51°28'3"N

Longitude: -0.3162 / 0°18'58"W

OS Eastings: 517055.656432

OS Northings: 175645.719966

OS Grid: TQ170756

Mapcode National: GBR 75.8Z0

Mapcode Global: VHGR2.GCPQ

Entry Name: The Shene Charterhouse

Scheduled Date: 13 March 2015

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1412036

County: Hounslow

Electoral Ward/Division: Isleworth

Built-Up Area: Hounslow

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Richmond

Church of England Diocese: Southwark


The site of the Shene Charterhouse, founded in 1414 by Henry V, re-founded in 1556-9, in the later C16 incorporated into royal stables for the Palace of Shene, and from 1660 to the mid-C18 the site of mansions and their gardens. Demolished in the 1760s to make way for the royal observatory at Kew.

Source: Historic England


The site of Shene Charterhouse, founded 1414 by Henry V.

The site of the buried remains of the charterhouse at Shene lies on alluvium over sand and gravel (First River Terrace), c5m above OD, immediately to the east of the River Thames. The scheduled site covers a sub-rectangular area within the southern half of the King’s Observatory and beneath the 14th green and adjacent practice ground of the JH Taylor Course at the Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Course. It represents part of the 32 acre former monastic site identified in 1649/50 and confirmed by aerial photos, geophysics and excavation.

Within the south-west corner of the King's Observatory site brick foundations and robber trenches form the north-east corner of the cloister garth. The north cloister walk was c3 m wide, its south wall buttressed. Cells to the north of the cloister are c7.8 m north-south, and presumed to be roughly square on plan. A north-south wall extending beyond the cells is interpreted as the garden boundary wall or wall of a covered walk. At the end of the gardens, c20 m north of the cloister walk, each cell has a brick built latrine and drain. The east claustral range is evident as geophysical anomalies and its plan, with a similar arrangement of cells and gardens, can be predicted from evaluation pits. A robber trench c38 m east of the western boundary of the King's Observatory and c20m east of the cloister has been suggested as the eastern boundary of the gardens. However a further north-south robber trench c47 m east of the western boundary may equally mark the boundary between the claustral range and enclosures to the east. Detected as a geophysical anomaly, also visible on aerial photographs, the boundary continues c150m south (beyond the scheduled area) meeting a linear east-west feature, potentially the southern precinct boundary. Footings of walls and brick vaults, that may represent rear walls and latrines or drains serving the east claustral range, extend c68m southwards along this projected north-south boundary; they were plotted on the OS record card. A robber trench and foundations of a brick boundary wall, aligned roughly east-west, appears to represent the northern precinct wall, continuing to east and west where it is visible as a parchmark.

Structures were principally of brick, with moulded Reigate and Caen stone dressings and fittings, unglazed tile roofs and plain yellow or brown glazed floor tiles, using materials generally of a type dating from 1400-1600 and of a type consistent with monastic buildings. There is associated pottery of a similar date range.

Antiquarian excavations and the accidental exposure of archaeological remains on the 13th and 14th fairways and practice ground of the golf course record the presence of foundations, robbed out trenches, water courses, drains and cesspits relating to the charterhouse, and of tiled flooring possibly related to the church.

A rectangular feature to the west of the Observatory site beneath the 14th green, marked E on the RCHME map (1993) is thought to represent post-medieval gardens, with the probability that these were built on the monastic footings.

Parallel linear features (outside the scheduled area) visible on aerial photographs, mark the east boundary of the precinct; the inner boundary is potentially the precinct wall, the outer boundary is marked on C18 maps, but is possibly of medieval date. Similarly an east-west anomaly lying between the southern boundary of the King's Observatory and suggested southern boundary of the precinct is marked on a map of 1771 but may be of medieval origin.

Extent of scheduling
The scheduled site is a roughly rectangular area of c168 m north-south by c152 m east-west. It is defined to the north by the northern precinct boundary which lies c100m north of the southern boundary of the King's Observatory. The eastern boundary is determined by the robber trench c47 m east of the western boundary of the Kings Observatory, that aligns with a geophysical anomaly and previously recorded evidence of brick vaults or drains and wall footings extending c68 m to the south of the King's Observatory grounds. The southern boundary is defined by the known extent of archaeology and anomalies that relate to features within and defining the precinct. To the west, the scheduled area extends c105m into the golf course to include the clearly defined rectangular feature recorded on aerial photos and geophysics (RCHME 1993; Gater, 1998). A buffer zone of 2m is added to the boundaries of the scheduled area.

Fences, tarmac surfaces, meteorological huts and above ground structures associated with the former Royal Observatory and bunkers, posts, pins and signage associated with the Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Course are excluded from the scheduling. The ground beneath all these structures is, however, included.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The site of the Shene Charterhouse, founded in 1414 by Henry V, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Period: Shene Charterhouse was the latest but largest of the medieval Carthusian monasteries, an important royal foundation, that exceptionally was re-founded under Queen Mary and was closely linked to the royal estate in the post-medieval period;
* Rarity: one of only nine medieval Carthusian houses to be built in England;
* Survival: brick footings of the claustral ranges, including the cells, garden boundaries and drainage system, survive. The footprint of the precinct boundary is evident as a parchmark and geophysical anomaly;
* Documentation: medieval and post-medieval accounts, maps and surveys of the site, including building and remedial works, have allowed scholarly recreation;
* Potential: there is high archaeological potential in the remainder of the claustral ranges, the church, outer court or courts, service buildings, precinct boundary and gatehouses and evidence relating to the Marian re-foundation, with the post-medieval royal stables and late C17 and C18 mansions and gardens superimposed upon them;
* Fragility/vulnerability: where monastic remains have been identified through excavation, these remains are at relatively shallow depths making them vulnerable; 
* Group value: identified with the sites of Syon Abbey, Isleworth and the royal palace at Richmond as an important medieval monastic landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Aston, M, Monasteries, (1993)
Coppack, G, Aston, M, Christ's Poor Men, (2002)
Coppack, G, Abbeys and Priories, (1990)
Knowles, D, Hadcock, R. N, Medieval Religious Houses in England and Wales, (1971)
Pastscape: Sheen Priory, accessed 2 November 2014 from
J Cloake and R Cowie, The King's Observatory, Old Deer Park, Richmond, London TW9. Archaeological desk-based assessment (MOLA, January 2010)
John Cloake, Richmond's Great Monastery. The Charterhouse of Jesus of Bethlehem of Shene, Richmond Local History Society (1990)
The King's Observatory, Old Deer Park , Richmond, London TW9. Evaluation Report (MOLA, August 2011)
The King's Observatory, Old Deer Park , Richmond, London TW9. Report on archaeological evaluation (Phase 2).(MOLA, January 2012)
The King's Observatory, Old Deer Park, Richmond TW9 (site code KOB11):summary of archaeological and historical investigations 2009-2013 (MOLA, Jan 2015)

Source: Historic England

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