Witham Charterhouse

Witham Charterhouse

Witham Charterhouse was the earliest of the ten medieval Carthusian houses (charterhouses) in England.

It was established at Witham Friary, Somerset in 1178/1179 from a founding party led by a monk called Narbert from the Grande Chartreuse.  The charterhouse was founded by Henry II in his Royal Forest of Selwood, as part of his penance for the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket of Canterbury.

The house was suppressed as part of the dissolution of the monasteries on 15 March 1539, and it surrendered without trouble. 

Part of the old buildings are now used as the Church of St Mary.

In 1921 excavations revealed buttressed wall foundations and building rubble including glazed roof tiles and floor tiles. Later work in 1965 and 1968 revealed further buildings and two were interpreted as the chapter house and possibly a church.

The site of the charterhouse is marked by extensive rectilenear earthworks, cut by a railway line, and some worked stone can still be seen in buildings in the village of Witham Friary.  The remains of the original monastic fishponds still survive to the east of the site.

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