Witham Charterhouse

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Witham Charterhouse
Parish church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St John Baptist and All Saints, Witham Friary, formerly lay brothers' church of friary
Basic information
Location Witham Friary, Somerset, England
Geographic coordinates 51°09′47″N 2°21′58″W / 51.1631°N 2.3660°W / 51.1631; -2.3660Coordinates: 51°09′47″N 2°21′58″W / 51.1631°N 2.3660°W / 51.1631; -2.3660
Affiliation Carthusian
Country United Kingdom
Year consecrated 1178/1179
Status abandoned

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. Hugh of Avalon (later Saint Hugh) was made prior of Witham Charterhouse in 1180. [1]

The house was suppressed as part of the dissolution of the monasteries on 15 March 1539, and it surrendered without trouble.[1]

The lay brother's church is now used as the Parish church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St John Baptist and All Saints, Witham Friary.


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.[2]


Site of the cloisters of the friary

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.[2]


  1. ^ a b Coppack, Glyn; Aston, Mick. Christ's Poor men - the Carthusians in England. ISBN 0-7524-1961-7. 
  2. ^ a b Firth, Hannah. Mendip from the air: A changing landscape. Somerset Heritage Series. Taunton Castle: Somerset County Council. ISBN 978-0-86183-390-0.