HC Deb 07 May 1886 vol 305 cc496-523

Order for Second Reading read.


I need scarcely say that under ordinary circumstances I should not have thought it necessary to address the House in moving the second reading of this Bill. But a good deal of misunderstanding seems to prevail in regard to the measure which misunderstanding is not confined to hon. Members only, but extends to statements which have appeared in the public Press, and which are absolutely without foundation and of a misleading character. I think it right that hon. Members should understand the exact position of the Bill, what it is that it contemplates, and why it, has been introduced. I may remind the House that the Bill has already passed the House of Lords, and that, in addition, it has been approved by the Charity Commissioners, and has received the sanction of the Attorney General, without which it could not be proceeded with. It is a Bill to enable the Governors of the Charterhouse to carry out efficiently, and in the way which was originally contemplated, the wishes and intentions of the Founder. I would like to show who the Governors of the Charterhouse are. If hon. Members will refer to a statement which has been printed in support of the second reading of the Bill they will find that the Governors of the Charterhouse, acting under the Charter and Acts relating to the Foundation, are:—The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York, the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, the Earl of Selborne, Viscount Cranbrook, the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Rochester, Lord Coleridge, Lord Clinton, Lord Rollo, the Right Hon. William Ewart Gladstone, M.P., John Gilbert Talbot, Esq., M.P., and Canon Elwyn, Master. The Charterhouse existed in its present condition since 1611, and this is a Bill to enable the Governors of the Charterhouse to dispose of part of their London property without, to any appreciable extent, injuring, or in any way impairing, the ancient building. As a Carthusian myself, I will tell the House that I would not have taken any part in support of the Bill if there had been any intention to injure the old building, which is really one of the ornaments of London. The necessity for the measure arises in this way. Owing to the scheme whereby the funds of the hospital were divided into two parts in the year 1872, or thereabouts, the available income of the Charterhouse Hospi- tal at the present time has been reduced to about £10,000 a-year. The income has been falling off for several years in consequence of the depression in the property of the Charity in Cambridgeshire, and other counties; and I am sorry to say there is no doubt whatever that so far from there being any prospect of improvement, matters are looking much worse, leases are falling in, and there is the greatest difficulty in inducing persons to take up the land even at greatly reduced rents. Owing to this fact the Governors of the Charterhouse find themselves unable to carry on the hospital upon its present basis without incurring an annual pecuniary loss. The lowest estimate which can be formed of the necessary expenditure in order to maintain even the reduced number of pensioners is about £12,800 a-year. The original number of pensioners was 80; but it has been obliged already to be reduced to 55, and the Governors have now to consider how best to carry on the affairs of the hospital. Having considered the matter most anxiously after the expenditure of a considerable amount of time, and having taken the most competent advice, they have come to the conclusion that if the Charity is to afford anything like the benefit which it was intended by its founder that it should afford, some change must be made. At the end, or, rather, at the beginning of last year, and all through the year, it became necessary for the Governors of the Charterhouse to consider what course should be adopted; and after very grave consideration, after consulting the most competent persons, after taking the advice of the Charity Commissioners, and submitting their scheme to the Attorney General, this Bill has been brought in. The Bill, as the House will probably know, is a Bill to enable a certain portion of the Charterhouse property to be sold or let for purposes of building. Probably the House will be aware that a considerable portion of the original property, which at one time formed the playground of the school, was sold 15 or 18 years ago to the Merchant Taylors' Company, and has been utilized for the Merchant Taylors' School. The remaining portion of the property consists of about six acres. Of that two acres forming Charterhouse Square will not be touched or interfered with at all. Of the remaining four acres I believe that about half an acre is to be devoted to public gardens, and about three-quarters of an acre to a new street, making altogether one and a-quarter acres, and leaving about three acres to be dealt with, which are covered at present either by old buildings or by new. I desire to deal at once with the opposition to the Bill. That opposition, to a great extent, proceeds from motives with which I entirely sympathize—namely, the desire to maintain and preserve the ancient buildings of the Charterhouse. I should like the House to understand what these ancient buildings consist of, and I hope that some hon. Members may have visited the place and have had an opportunity of seeing the buildings as they now stand. The ancient buildings consist of a master's lodge, a very fine hall and chapel, and a court which forms what is called Washhouse Court. It is proposed to leave nearly the whole of these old buildings untouched. The Bill proposes that a street should be taken through the ground floor of Wash-house Court at both ends. I have plans here which will enable hon. Members better to understand the nature of the scheme. The whole of Washhouse Court will be left intact, except the ground floor on the north and south, leaving the east and west sides and the rest of Washhouse Court intact. The upper part of the building will not be interfered with at all. I should have been most thankful, if it had been possible, for the scheme to be promoted without touching any part of Wash-house Court; but of the four walls of that Court which now exist, three of them have been to a considerable extent altered and modernized, and, in fact, there is not one of the four walls which is in the exact condition in which it stood originally. If hon. Members who have taken a prominent part in securing the preservation of old buildings will take the pains to understand this design, they will see that the promoters of the Bill, in their main motives, have been actuated by a desire to preserve the Charterhouse as much as possible. The objections which have been taken to the Bill I will not at all attempt to deal with now; but I desire to say that, as far as the preservation of the old buildings is concerned, if the House thinks that it is not sufficiently provided for, the promoters will be only too glad to consent to any clause to insure that no alteration should be made in what are really the old buildings of the Charterhouse—namely, the master's lodge, the hall and chapel, and the remainder of Washhouse Court. I hope, however, that the House will be satisfied with the manner in which the Governing Body have dealt with the case, and it must be borne in mind that with regard to the rest of the property a considerable proportion is proposed to be given up for open spaces. If anyone will go to the Charterhouse and see the buildings as they exist there, I think he would be satisfied that no public injury is contemplated by the scheme, and he would also be able to recognize the fact that at the present moment the public have no access to these buildings at all. He would, therefore, probably come to the conclusion, if he viewed the matter fairly, that that which is proposed to be done by the Governors under the necessities of the case is only to secure the utilization of that part of the property for the purpose of carrying out the intentions of the Founder of the Charity without interfering with the preservation of the ancient buildings. I am not aware that there is anything in the Bill to which I need call the attention of the House, at any rate in the present stage. Of course, I shall have the opportunity of hearing what my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Mr. W. H. James), who is opposing the Bill, wishes to say against it, and I shall have the right of replying. I hope the House will clearly understand that it is only stern necessity which induces the Governors of the Charterhouse to bring forward this measure. They will, if the Bill passes, be able to maintain 200 pensioners, instead of 55, as at present. The present condition of things is such that the large cost of maintaining the property swallows up all the income; and the Governors find themselves unable to keep up the Charity and distribute its benefits in the way in which the Founder originally intended. I trust that when the House fully understand the nature of the Bill, and have had placed before them the objections which have been made to it, they will be of opinion that the Bill is one which ought to be read a second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Richard Webster.)

MR. W. H. JAMES (Gateshead)

, in rising to move as an Amendment— That, in the opinion of this House, it is inexpedient to abolish the Hospital founded by Thomas Sutton in the London Charterhouse, to mutilate a most interesting relic of Old London, and to cover with buildings a considerable area of open ground in the heart of the Metropolis, in order to reconstruct a Charity which, in its present form, carries out the intention of the Founder, and has not been shown to be unsuitable to the needs of the present day, or to have given rise to abuses, said: I am afraid that the hon. and learned Gentleman, in the speech he has just made, seems to suppose that the opposition to this Bill is somewhat unreasonable. But I beg to assure him that those with whom I am acting consider that this is a most unreasonable Bill. I do not think it would be well that I should, at any great length, detain the House with the antiquarian history of the Charterhouse. All I need say is that the Charity was founded by Mr. Thomas Sutton at the commencement of the 17th century, and that it affords a striking example of the princely munificence which was exercised at that period. In 1611 Mr. Thomas Sutton bought the Charterhouse from the Howard family for £13,000. At the end of the same year Mr. Thomas Sutton died; but in the meantime he had founded the hospital, and left by his will ample funds for its maintenance. For the additional buildings that were necessary he left a sum of £5,000. He added another sum of £1,000 to the treasury of the Hospital, and a further sum of £20,000 for the general purposes and objects of the Charity. A rather remarkable circumstance then occurred. No sooner was Mr. Thomas Sutton dead than strenuous efforts were made in different quarters, on the part of various persons, to become possessed of these Charities, A nephew of the name of Baxter entered into litigation after having vainly attempted to obtain forcible possession of the Charterhouse, and he attracted to his cause no loss a person than Sir Francis Bacon. Sir Francis Bacon wrote to the King a letter, in which he criticized the whole of Mr. Thomas Sutton's plan, and suggested other ways in which the funds left by the will of the Founder might have been better expended. He described Howard House, which it was intended to utilize for the purposes of a hospital as fit for a Prince's establishment, and as suitable for Sutton's Charity as "giving an embroidered cloak to a poor beggar." In order to succeed in their suit, the Trustees of the Hospital thought it right to devote part of the sum of £20,000, which had been left by Mr. Thomas Sutton, to the building of a bridge over the Tweed at Berwick. No sooner was this sum paid into Court by the representatives of Mr. Thomas Sutton than judgment was given, successfully establishing their right to the Charity. Subsequent Acts of Parliament confirmed the Governors of the Charterhouse in their privileges. It is now proposed by the present Bill to destroy and lay open for building purposes part of the old burial ground, and a very striking portion of Washhouse Court. There is no doubt that a considerable portion of the building originally constituted the old Carthusian Monastery—one of the few institutions of the kind now existing in the country. It is of the utmost importance that the remains of that building should be preserved, as originally intended, as the home of the pensioners of this Charity; but the Bill which is now before the House proposes to devote for building purposes some four, five, or six acres which now belong to it. I cannot exactly state what the precise area is, because I find that there is a difference of opinion, even on the part of those who have made the most careful measurements; but that is a matter which, if the Bill should finally go before a Select Committee, could be inquired into there. The measure proposes virtually to destroy and lay open for building purposes part of the old burial ground, the inner quadrangle, and important and striking portions of old Howard House and Wash he use Court. It is not desirable that I should enter into particulars as to the exact merits of these particular buildings. No doubt a very considerable portion of the building was the home of the brethren of the Carthusian Monastery, and it was the most interesting part of the building. At the time of the disruption of the Monasteries by Henry VIII., Prior Houghton, who was at the head of this Monastery, was beheaded, and the Monastery was put down. Now, it seems to me that very few important and available relies of the great Monasteries of the Mediæval period have been preserved; and, as has been just stated, the fewer we have of them the more precious they become. To my mind it is an act of Philistinism, of barbarism, and of Vandalism, which the House is asked to sanction, under the patronage of these great names of the Governors of the Charterhouse, by sweeping away an old monument of this character. I do not wish to enter into a controversy with regard to the objects of Mr. Thomas Sutton—the pious Founder of this Charity. Pious Founders have, over and over again, left money for all sorts of objects of an undesirable character. I do not wish to inquire into the question merely from antiquarian or æsthetic grounds; but I do not think it right to turn and twist the objects of a Charity at the will and desire of any number of persons, no matter how eminent, purely for commercial and mercenary purposes. I am sorry to hear that the Governors of this Charity are suffering, like scores of other individuals, from the depression of agriculture. But, if such be the case, it appears to me that, like other persons, they should exercise a wise and rigid economy, and should reduce the number of their pensioners, or the number of their scholars. I do not wish to attack or enter into any controversy with my hon. and learned Friend as to the arrangement of the funds of the Charterhouse by the Charity Commissioners. I have no doubt that in all the arrangements they have made for dealing with Charities of this character they have been desirous of acting upon the principles of justice and good sense. But the Governors of this Charity, whose distinguished names appear at the head of the statement which has been printed on behalf of the Bill, are gentlemen who are not able, on account of the multifarious duties they have to discharge in other respects, to devote their whole attention to that impartial consideration of the interests of the Charterhouse which that Institution requires. I understood my hon. and learned Friend to say that the plan which has been submitted to the House has the approval of the architect of the Charterhouse himself—an old Carthusian. I presume that he referred to Mr. Herbert Carpenter; and I find that that gentleman has written a letter with respect to the threatened demolition of the Charterhouse, in which he says— We 'old Carthusians' had, till recently, been under the impression that our ancient buildings would be respected in any scheme of the Governors for re-arranging the Charity, ft seems, however, that if a Bill as now drawn (and printed in The Times) is passed, any or every part of the buildings, ancient as well as modern, can be swept away by the present Governors or by their successors. Some of us think very decidedly that the power sought for, if given at all, should be strictly limited, and I have drawn out a plan in order to show to those interested what we mean by the term 'Old Charterhouse,' we so much wish to be preserved. After entering into particulars, Mr. Carpenter says— It is obvious that the projected street cannot be driven through the Charterhouse property without destroying more or less of the buildings—especially the ancient portions of them; and I must add, that at a meeting held to-day on this subject we were told, on good authority, that the street is to go from Clerkenwell Road to Charterhouse Square, with, of course, buildings on either side of it. A mere glance at the plan will show that all 'Washhouse Court' will be demolished, with part of Howard House. I think I may say that most of us will not be satisfied with the sparing of the chapel and hall, and but fragments of Howard House; and if success cannot be insured to the scheme without this destruction, the Bill ought, we think, to be rejected in Parliament; or, if carried, it should be in such an altered form as to secure to us all our ancient and historical buildings, still to be, we trust, used in some way in harmony with our Founder's intentions. This gentleman is now the honorary or consulting architect to the Governors, and I believe it is his plan, to a very considerable extent, which the hon. and learned Gentleman is anxious to carry out. I think it is a pity that an ancient building like this should be handed over to the tender mercies and fantastic views of any architect whatever. No doubt, there are many architects who are anxious to try their hands upon old buildings; but I hope that in this instance the House will agree with me that, as far as is now possible, the general character of what still remains of Mediæval London should be preserved. There are many things attributed to this Democratic Parliament; but I venture to say that it will not be found wanting in a proper spirit of respect and reverence for the old monuments of the country. Personally, I regard any project for the destruction of this old monument and record as an act of Vandalism. My hon. and learned Friend says that the Bill does not propose to destroy these buildings; but suppose that you have a church standing in the centre of a churchyard, if you place buildings all over that churchyard surely you destroy the beauty of the church itself. It would be very much the same in this case. If you build over the whole of the land upon which the Charterhouse now stands you will destroy its architectural beauty. And it is quite likely that in doing so you may altogether upset the arrangements between the Governors of the Charterhouse and the Merchant Taylors' Company in reference to their schools, and that the Merchant Taylors' School may no longer be retained in London, so that that part of this property may also be swept away and devoted to purely mercenary objects. I do not know that there would be any use in my detaining the House as to the arrangements which may be made between funds devoted to the school and those for the maintenance of the pensioners. As I have already said, I oppose the Bill upon general grounds, and I hope that after he has listened to the debate my hon. and learned Friend will withdraw the measure in deference to the consensus of feeling which I feel certain will be expressed by the House. I certainly cannot consent to abstain from going to a division, because I cannot allow so objectionable a measure to pass unchallenged through a second reading. I do not think that it is desirable that it should be discussed before a Committee, because I know what the discussion of details and matters of this kind before a Select Committee means. We are nearly half-way through the Session, and Bills are frequently, under such circumstances, allowed to go before a Committee as a matter of chance in a haphazard way; and I am very much afraid that if this Bill is sent to a Committee, the general importance of the question, and the grounds of objection I have raised, will run the risk of being entirely lost sight of in mere technical matters. Under these circumstances, I beg to move the Amendment of which I have given Notice.

MR. R. CHAMBERLAIN (Islington, W.)

I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is inexpedient to abolish the Hospital founded by Thomas Sutton in the London Charterhouse, to mutilate a most interesting relic of Old London, and to cover with buildings a considerable area of open ground in the heart of the Metropolis, in order to re-construct a Charity which, in its present form, carries out the intention of the Founder, and has not been shown to be unsuitable to the needs of the present day, or to have given rise to abuses,"—(Mr. Walter James,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

MR. NORRIS (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)

It was only this morning that I first saw the Charterhouse Bill, and heard of this attempt to authorize the sale, exchange, or lease of certain lands and buildings of the Governors of Sutton's Hospital in Charterhouse, one of the oldest and grandest Institutions of this City; and I very much regret that an hon. and learned Member, who has a seat on this side of the House, should have taken charge of the second reading of such a Bill. I should have thought that if one of the old Institutions of the Realm were to be attacked, we should look for defenders among hon. Gentlemen near me. Therefore, I feel bound personally to stand up and oppose the Motion which the hon. and learned Member has made. For 250 years, at least, the Charterhouse has fulfilled its duties to the City of London, as laid down and willed by the Founder; and if the House were to accept the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I believe they would, in verity, be putting the axe to the root of a very large and substantial tree. I have no doubt that the Governors of the Charterhouse are animated by a desire to carry out the intentions of the Founder — Thomas Sutton—but I take it that this scheme would, if adopted, end in the removal of the "Brethren," from the City of London, and would destroy the Charity of the Charterhouse, in which some 55 pensioners are enjoying the hospitality of this ancient Foundation. Hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House know the amount of good that will be done in the City, and in the East of London, by continuing the Charterhouse; and I hope that they, together with hon. Members who sit on this side of the House, will support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. W. H. James). I would remind hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on this side of the House that the Charterhouse is an ancient monastic institution, and therefore I am sure they will sympathize in any effort that may be made to preserve it, and will not be prepared to destroy even the part of one of the most ancient foundations in London. Speaking for myself, I feel that for years past there has been too much interference with these old Foundations, with a view of assessing them simply at their money value. I believe that Institutions of this kind cannot be estimated at a money value, for it is a building which cannot be replaced when once destroyed. We might as well attempt to assess Westminster Abbey at a money value, and let the ground for building purposes. What would be said of a proposal to destroy Westminster Abbey, or to pull down the Houses of Parliament, on the ground that the sites on which they stand would be very suitable for private residences? I ask the House to consider the question with the utmost care. If the hon. Member for Gateshead had not submitted an Amendment, I should certainly have been prepared to move myself, to the effect that a Committee should be appointed to consider the whole question, although it is with very great regret that I find myself compelled to oppose the hon. and learned Gentleman who sits before me.

MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)

Like other hon. Members, I regret very much that this discussion should have been considered necessary, and I also regret some of the language which has been used in the course of it, and especially in the speech to which we listened from my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Mr. W. H. James). We have been told that we are sweeping a way the ancient buildings of the country; that we are guilty of Vandalism, barbarism, and Philistinism; and that in doing away with one of the ornaments of the country we are actuated by commercial and mercenary motives. This is really a question of conservation, and not of destruction. On this occasion, as one of the Governors of the Charterhouse, I feel bound to say that no hon. Member who had spent half the time and anxious thought which I have upon this case would have come to a hostile conclusion upon the proposals contained in this Bill. The course which we have taken is one of absolute necessity, unless we are prepared to sacrifice the real and essential objects of Mr. Thomas Sutton, the Founder, and reduce the number of pensioners. If we cannot develop the London property of the Charterhouse to some extent the main objects of Mr. Thomas Sutton's Charity will be rendered completely nugatory. The Governors have gone into the archæological question with great care; we have consulted, as my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Mr. W. H. James) told the House, an eminent architect, who is an old Carthusian, and is the honorary architect of the Charterhouse, and that gentleman tells us that he will be able to preserve not only all the really ancient parts of the building, but even be able, he hopes, to give it an improved architectural appearance. The two chief parts of the building are Howard House and Washhouse Court. Howard House, which is an absolutely unique specimen of a nobleman's house of the 16th century, will be altogether preserved. Washhouse Court is all that remains of the old monastic building, and it is proposed to run a road through it. That road is now objected to. I am sorry that it is necessary to do this; but, unfortunately, we are obliged to approve of the plan submitted to us, because unless there is a road through it would be impossible to develop the property beyond. The hon. Member opposite has spoken of mercenary motives, and he was cheered by his hon. Friends below the Gangway. I am glad to see the sensitive spirit which is arising in that quarter; but I want to know where the mercenary motives are? Does the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. W. H. James) suppose that the Governors are going to put any money into their own pockets by promoting this scheme? [Mr. W. H. JAMES: No.] Then what does the hon. Member mean? Our only object is to carry out the objects of Mr. Thomas Sutton, the Founder, and to obtain a little more money for spending upon a larger number of old men and women, who are the pensioners of this Charity. The objects of the Charity are two in number—namely, the education of the young, and the maintenance of the old. One of the strongest appeals in favour of the Charity is the beautiful and romantic picture of the old Charterhouse Hospital immortalized by Thackeray; and I believe that if the Newcomes had never been written there would not have been the present manifestation of feeling in regard to this Bill, and the large attendance which we have at this hour. We are trying to carry out the objects of Mr. Thomas Sutton, and what we say is that we desire to make provision for a larger number of Colonel Newcomes at the Charterhouse, and to give some of them out-pensions. What I would ask hon. Members to do, before they give an adverse vote on this occasion, is to consider the real bearings of the case. The Governors have tried their best to preserve all the architectural and historical features of the Charterhouse, and they have hardly sacrificed anything that can be called an open space. Indeed the hon. Member opposite practically gave up the argument as to open spaces. Nothing worth speaking of has been sacrificed; the burial ground, which will now be thrown open, has been actually closed for many years to the public; it is the sincere desire of the Governors to preserve all the archæological, historical, architectural, and antiquarian features of the Charterhouse; and we have done our best to insure not only that the number of pensioners who have been hitherto maintained upon Mr. Thomas Sutton's Foundation should be kept up, but that a considerable number of out-pensioners should be maintained in addition. I believe that my hon. and learned Friend (Sir Richard Webster) has fairly and impartially explained the perfectly legitimate case we have for promoting this Bill; and I may add that, it is only the agricultural and general depression which has prevailed, and which has so largely affected our country estates, that has created the necessity for it. Looking at all the circumstances, I hope the House will place confidence in the motives by which the Governors are actuated, and will consent to read the Bill a second time.

VISCOUNT LYMINGTON (Devon, South Molton)

I wish to point out to the House why I do not think that the Governors of the Charterhouse have any claim at all upon this House for confidence. I am speaking, I believe, perfectly within the facts when I say that 15 or 20 years ago five and a-half acres of land were sold by the Governors to the Merchant Taylors' Company without public competition for £90,000, which is worth to-day at least £250,000. If that is the way in which the Charterhouse funds and property have been managed, we ought to have many more detailed reasons to show why the scheme of the Governors is justified, and why it is necessary, than we have yet heard. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has reminded the House that it is the wish of the Governors to carry out the object of Mr. Thomas Sutton. Now, the object of Mr. Thomas Sutton, in his own words, was the education not of boys, but of poor boys. At the present moment the Charterhouse School is a large, and, doubtless, a very creditable school; but the boys who use that school are not poor boys. The son of a Royal Prince, I believe, attends the school at the present moment. To my mind it is a very great perversion of the Charity of Mr. Thomas Sutton that the money, which he left for the use of the poor, is, in fact, used for the children of the rich. What is the estimated sum, speaking roughly, that the school costs? I believe that the income of the Charterhouse is somewhere about £20,000. The school costs £10,000; but there are only 60 scholars upon the Foundation. If this is to be justified on principles of economy, then that economy should be in the direction of retrenchment—spending less upon the School. I think we have a right to ask this, and I say that those of us who sit below the Gangway have a right to oppose Bills of this kind, even when they come before us supported by great names and high authorities, because we believe that an important part of the Charity has been perverted. For these reasons I shall certainly support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. W. H. James).

SIR EDMUND LECHMERE (Worcestershire, Bewdley)

I do not propose to detain the House for more than a few minutes. I am afraid there are very few hon. Members who are intimately acquainted with the architectural features of the Charterhouse. It is not necessary to explain the history of that noble Foundation; but there are one or two points upon which I should like to elicit information, quite apart from historical or antiquarian questions. We ought to know whether the Governors have considered the question of providing suitable almshouses for the old people—the successors of Colonel Newcome—who are now inmates of the Hospital, in the event of their selling the very valuable site which the Bill will enable them to dispose of. It would be a sad thing that these old men should have to leave their comfortable quarters without any provision being made for them in the future. I do not think that the Governors are quite carrying out the wishes of the Founder, which was to establish residences for decayed merchants, and I am afraid that it will be a severe blow to the pensioners if they are compelled to leave the comfortable quarters they now occupy. I would suggest that the House, before consenting to the Bill, should give time in order that the Governors may satisfy the public that they have a scheme to provide for the establishment of almshouses at Godalming or elsewhere. As to the son of a Royal Prince being educated upon the Foundation, I believe that that is not altogether contrary to the design of the Founder, and that the School contains both collegians and oppidans.


The hon. Baronet has somewhat misunderstood my argument. All that I said was that the School was intended for the sons of the poor, and not for the sons of the rich.

MR. STORY-MASKELYNE (Wilts, Cricklade)

I trust that I maybe allowed to make a few remarks upon this question, which is one in which I have taken some interest, and I think that the few observations I propose to make may serve to allay the feeling which has been raised against the speech of my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. W. H. James) in the use of the word "mercenary." That little word let slip by my hon. Friend has been made the ground of an attack upon him which it is perfectly clear to me to be by no means deserved. I am satisfied that he did not in the least mean to use the word in the sense in which it has been taken up. What he meant was simply that the sale of the land was the object of the Bill, that these old buildings were going to be pulled down, and the property sold, with a view of realizing a larger income for the Charity. I may say, for my own part, and I believe for every hon. Member on this side of the House, that I do not think there is one among us who is prepared to say that the Governors have not done what they conceived to be for the best in the discharge of their duty. But what I wish to impress upon the House is this—that there is a great difference between the duty of the Governors of the Institution and the duty of the House. With regard to the larger question—namely, that of looking not merely at the Charity, but also at all that which sheds a halo round it from antiquity, I do not think that any man who has visited the Charterhouse, or is at all acquainted with it—and certainly no man who loves it, as many in this House do—can question that the destruction in any way of any portion of this old landmark of the City, involving as it does the destruction of one out of two or three of the remaining relics of the stately Palaces of the days of the Tudors, is greatly to be regretted. The work of destroying our ancient architecture has gone on until we have few relics left, with the exception of Westminster Abbey, Westminster Hall, and the Tower, with a few scattered fragments here and there. There are few more interesting, from an antiquarian and historical point of view, than the Charterhouse, which was built out of the funds collected by the piety and devotion of one of the great Religious Orders of olden times, in the most splendid period of English architecture. I do not mean to say that the architecture of the Charterhouse is splendid, but of its kind it is thoroughly genuine, and extremely interesting. The building originated in the devotion of a great Religious Institution. In the time of James I. a great Prince and Nobleman erected a magnificent mansion here, and subsequently Mr. Thomas Sutton, from the wealth which had accrued to him as one of the great London merchants, acquired the property. He devoted it to objects which I hope the Radical elements of the House of Commons of the present day will not repudiate. I trust that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway will take quite an- other view of their duty, and will be prepared to maintain a Charity which, when it was founded, was divided between hospitality to poor old men and the children of the poor who were to be instructed and maintained in the Charterhouse School. But, by a perversion which I am happy to say does not belong to our time, but to an age long past and gone—a perversion of the original purpose of the Charity—the funds of this great Institution have been devoted to the bringing up and education of a large number of children of the better class who can well afford their own education; and, on the other hand, the hospital funds have been devoted not to the support of poor old men, but to the maintenance of those who, by accident or other circumstances of life, have fallen from a high to a low estate. These decayed gentlemen now find a home around the old cells where the Carthusian monks passed their time in religious devotions. I believe that the feeling of the House, so far as it has been manifested in the course of the debate, is in favour of the rejection of this Bill; and I will venture to answer, in a few words, some of the points which have been raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman the late Attorney General (Sir Richard Webster), in a speech characterized, I must admit, by that excellent temper and quiet reasoning which he always brings to bear upon anything he lays before the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman told us of the increasing poverty of this great Institution, and of the reasons which induce the Governors to part with some of the Charterhouse property. We have been told that the Institution was £1,100 in debt last year; but when we look at what we can get of the accounts what is the result we find? Why, that the funds of this Institution are perpetually increasing. The income was £22,000 in 1862, and it is now £30,000 a-year. One-half of that money arises not from lands in various counties, some of it known well by me in my neighbourhood in Wiltshire, where the Charity possesses many acres which, in the past, have been by no means made the most of, and which even now might be, I believe, more economically managed; the remainder arises from property in London, which is daily increasing in value, and which there is not the smallest doubt will in the course of a very few years be worth a great deal more than it is now. There is another matter to which I may direct the attention of the House. Out of this sum of £30,000, which is the annual income of this great Institution, £9,000 are spent in outgoings, not in rents going back to the tenants, but in mere expenditure between wind and water, which, as every country gentleman knows, makes a pretty large hole in his income. Nevertheless, I am satisfied that they would look upon an expenditure of 33 per cent out of their income, for such purposes, as a very large amount indeed. I think we have a right to ask that the best use should be made of the funds in the hands of this great Charity. I do not suppose there is a single Member of the Board of Governors who does not devote to the Charity all the time he can; but when we look over the list of names it is quite clear that that cannot amount to a great deal. No doubt, a few of them have devoted a great deal of their time to the affairs of the Charity. I am acquainted with an analogous Institution—the British Museum. In that case you have a very large Board of Trustees, consisting of conspicuous personages—great officers of State, and illustrious men. These illustrious men, when they are not occupied with more profitable duties, do occasionally condescend to go to the British Museum, and I believe it is generally acknowledged that there is no Institution in the Kingdom better managed. The gentlemen who have been selected in this case as Governors of the Charterhouse are men who are quite capable of managing and keeping alive a great Institution of this sort. Therefore, I have no wish to impugn their conduct; but the blame for any defective management rests upon the persons under them, who have been appointed to look after the affairs of the Charity. I cannot help thinking that the funds derived from this Charity might be better, and much more economically managed; and before this question is settled in the off-hand way proposed by the Bill, we have, at any rate, a right to be satisfied that the best use is being made of the funds and resources of the Institution, If the Bill be read a second time, I hope that its provisions will be thoroughly considered in Committee. I trust, however, that it will be sent back by this House, so as to afford the Governors an opportunity of reconsidering it.


I will not detain the House for more than a few minutes; but before the House goes to a division there are one or two matters upon which I ought to say a word. In the first place, there has been a suggestion that the questions which have been raised here are questions for consideration by a Committee. Now, I understand that as the Bill does not touch any private interest no Petition has been presented against it, and, therefore, it would not go to a Committee at all, but would come before me personally; and, as I should consider that it was no part of my duty to examine the policy of the Bill, but simply to inquire into its financial arrangements, and see if they were satisfactory, it is necessary that the House should come to a determination on the question of policy on the second reading of the Bill. Upon that question of policy a division must now be taken; it cannot be taken in Committee, because the Bill will not be sent to a Committee. Perhaps I may be allowed to say that I have the greatest respect for the motives which have animated the Governors of the Charterhouse in this matter. They have found that their funds were not sufficient to keep up the objects of the Charity; and they have directed their attention to the best means of increasing those funds. They know that they possess very valuable property in the centre of London, and they see that by selling some of the land that surrounds the Charterhouse buildings while maintaining the buildings themselves they will be able to keep up the number of pensioners for whom Mr. Thomas Sutton originally intended to provide. [Sir RICHARD WEBSTER: They propose to double them."] Yes; if the pensioners are dispersed in the country, but not if they remain together as a family, as Sutton planned. I must point out, in the first place, that the present difficulty would not have arisen if the funds had been distributed as they were 20 years ago, before the separation of the School and Hospital took place. Up to that time there was an absolute allocation of funds either to one purpose or the other; but, as a matter of fact, no difficulty was experienced in apportioning the funds between the two purposes. At that time two-thirds were given towards the maintenance of the poor brethren in the Hospital, and one-third to the School. The new scheme gave half to the Hospital and half to the School, and in consequence of that allocation the funds for the maintenance of the poor brethren have now fallen below the necessities of the case. If the Governors went back to the original plan, and two-thirds were again devoted to the Hospital it would not be necessary to bring in this Bill. Although I do not lay any great stress upon it, it does appear to me that we are dealing with a building of great historical interest, and with an Institution of great associations. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Mr. J. G. Talbot), said that there would not have been much interest taken in the question if it were not for the association of Colonel Newcome with the Charterhouse. Well, I think that is a matter which ought not altogether to be ignored. The people who come here from the other side of the Atlantic invariably try to find out the Charterhouse, and I think every hon. Member must feel that it would be painful if the associations which now surround the Charterhouse were broken up by this Bill. We are all agreed that if there is a necessity for this it is a detestable necessity. Everyone must feel that every stone ought to be turned before a scheme of this character should receive the approval of the House. I admit that it is rather hard on the Governors of the Charterhouse that they should be constrained to keep up an historical monument at the cost of a number of poor brethren who might otherwise be provided for. But I have not heard that any attempt has yet been made to come to what I think would be the ideal solution of the difficulty by the purchase of the ground which surrounds the Charterhouse, and the conversion of it into public gardens. If this were done these buildings might be retained either for their present, or for any other purpose, so that pilgrims to the Charterhouse might find their way there through public gardens rather than through grimy streets of which we have certainly quite enough at present in the neighbourhood of Clerkenwell. I believe that if this Bill were withdrawn we might be able in the course of a year or two to arrive at some happy solution of the difficulty. I do not see that the House of Commons is forced to deal with the matter now, and, therefore, I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill.


I am unwilling to trespass further upon the time of the House; but I must ask for its indulgence for a few moments while I deal with one or two matters which have been brought forward in the course of the discussion. I sympathize with every word which has been said by hon. Members opposite who desire to preserve the antiquity of old buildings; but it does seem to me as if, at the present moment, there is a disposition to snatch a division against the Bill without understanding the real facts of the case. ["No!"] Perhaps hon. Members will bear with me when I say that scarcely anyone who has spoken against the Bill has not assumed that the old buildings are going to be destroyed. That assumption is absolutely without foundation. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members may say "No," but they cannot have seen the Bill. I know the reality of what I assert. The chapel is not touched; the hall is not touched; the master's lodge is not touched; the master's court is not touched; and the only part of Wash-house Court which is touched is the ground floor. As I have said, there will be an archway at the other end of the road. My statement may be taken for what it is worth; but hon. Members will be quite sure that I am not stating what I do not believe to be true. Anybody, however, can see for himself by going down to the Charterhouse and investigating the matter. What I say is I that if this question is to be determined by the old buildings being properly respected, I should like the question to be fully and thoroughly investigated. The Governors are perfectly willing that it should be inquired into, and I believe that the Forms of the House admit of the Bill being referred to a Select Committee. The Chairman of Committees told the House that as the Bill would be practically unopposed it would go before him as an unopposed Private Bill; but I apprehend that there would not be the slightest difficulty in referring it to a Select Committee. With regard to the old buildings, if they are going to be pulled down, or swept away, or dealt with in the manner suggested by many hon. Members, I should not be here to support the measure. It is because I believe that there is a means of preserving, for the benefit of the public for ever, these old buildings that I am desirous of seeing this scheme carried through. One word more in regard to the observations of the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Lymington), which I certainly think were scarcely called for. The noble Viscount has made an attack upon the Charterhouse itself. But if the Charterhouse is to be made the object of attack, it ought equally to be made on Eton, Winchester, and other public schools. It is not fair thus to reflect on a body of Governors who are attempting to do their duty in the interests of the Charity, and to carry out what was undoubtedly the intention of the Pounder—namely, to provide for the support of certain aged men, and under the powers of an Act of Parliament to devote the funds of the Institution to objects similar to those to which other Charities have been devoted. I believe that the antiquarian part of the case is not properly understood. As far back as 1872, it was recommended by the Charity Commissioners that the system of out-pensioners should be adopted. They also thought that the scheme should have gone further, and should have discontinued the Charterhouse as a place of residence for poor brothers. I am afraid that I cannot appeal to the recollection of the Prime Minister, although I have no doubt that he has taken as active a part in the management of the Institution as his other public duties would permit; but I am certain he will bear me out in this—that the Governors of the Hospital have done their utmost from beginning to end to carry out the objects of the Charity to the best of their ability, and with a desire to give effect to the wishes of the Founder. It is idle to suggest that they wish in any way to go against the wishes of the Founder. In the Bill of 1872, of which probably the House has no knowledge, power was taken to establish out-pensioners, and to devote some of the funds of the Charity to that object. I am not suggesting that hon. Members ought to know all these things. I have a knowledge of them from having been educated at the Charterhouse, and knowing all about the Foundation. If the scheme of the Governors be inquired into by means of a Select Committee, and tested to the fullest extent that such a Committee would be able to test, and as it is impossible for the House to test it, I maintain that the wisdom and the judgment of the Governing Body would be supported. The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. W. H. James) said he did not care whether it is a question of four acres or of two-and-a-half acres; but I venture to think it is of the greatest importance that the House should understand what the real scheme is. As much as three-and-a-half acres are left for open spaces, the old buildings are not touched except to the small extent I have admitted, and practically it is only the utilization of two-and-three-quarter acres, which are already, to a great extent, covered with buildings. If the House reject the Bill I am afraid they will not do so from a thorough understanding of the question, but from a natural desire, in which I entirely sympathize, to maintain an ancient relic of the past. I trust that that feeling will grow in the minds of hon. Members opposite. I repeat to the House, that this scheme has been most carefully considered by the Governors; that it has received the sanction of the Charity Commissioners; that it has been submitted to the Attorney General and received his approval; and that it has already passed the House of Lords. I wish I could put before the House some of the reasons which have weighed with the Governors, most unwillingly, to come to this decision; but I trust that the scheme will not be rejected, when I and those who deem it our duty to support the measure are quite willing, if it be read a second time, that it should be investigated to the fullest extent by a Select Committee, and where it can be easily ascertained, whether I or they who oppose the Bill are right in the matter. I regret that I should have been compelled to occupy so much of the time of the House; but it is a very important matter; and instead of hastily rejecting the Bill, I hope the House will allow it to be read a second time. I am satisfied that the result of passing it will be to carry out rather than to frustrate the objects of the Founder.


I am sorry to say that I have not heard the whole of the debate; but in reply to one part of the speech of my hon. and learned Friend (Sir Richard Webster) I think he will not deny that, although a good deal of the ancient buildings will be left under this scheme, their character will be completely altered. For example, the ends of Washhouse Court will be pulled down, and a street run through the middle of it.


I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. I am sorry he was not here when I made my speech. What he has stated now is not the fact. The photographs show that no sides of the court will be pulled down, but that an archway will be made at each end of the court through which the road will go.


In other words, the character of the place will be destroyed. An old monastic building will be partially pulled down, and what is now the court turned into a street with an archway at each end and warehouses in proximity. The ends of the court will be destroyed and new archways built. Those who go there to see what a monastic building was ages ago will not be able to determine, because the lofty warehouses which will be erected around it will completely destroy the character of the place. Hardly any great historical city of Europe has lost so many of its antiquities as this capital of ours. There remain in London but few memorials of our mediaeval life; and as it is desirable to preserve these as much as possible, I hope the House will refuse to sanction the destruction of one of the finest now remaining. In these days, also, when so many efforts are being made to create new open spaces by the conversion of churchyards and other vacant spots into recreation grounds, I hope the House will think it undesirable to sanction a scheme which will reduce three acres of open space to a little more than one acre. When it is considered how much good might be done to the poorer inhabitants of London, and especially to the children of the poor, by appropriating this ground for playground and recreation purposes, I trust that the House, if for that reason alone, will not consent to read the Bill a second time.

MR. BERESFORD HOPE (Cambridge University)

I am not going to detain the House very long; but I feel that the proper course to take is to adjourn the debate. The more it has gone on the clearer it is that we are involved in a maze, and that we are discussing a matter of which a great many of us know very little, and about which there is a great deal of confusion. I will only, myself, venture to say that I have been over the spot, and have accurately examined the buildings. Judging from the discussion now going on, I consider that the House is not at present in a condition to deal with the matter satisfactorily. In these circumstances, I think the best course would be to adjourn the debate, not for any length of time, but simply for a few days, in order that a full opportunity should be afforded for reconsidering the matter. We are all of us animated by the same feeling—namely, a desire to preserve these valuable remains; but we do not all of us see the method of doing so in precisely the same manner. I beg to move the adjournment of the debate.




I must remind the hon. Gentleman that he has already spoken.


I was about to second the Motion for the adjournment of the debate.


It is not competent for the hon. Gentleman to second that Motion.


I beg to second the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Beresford Hope.)


I simply wish, in one sentence, to explain the reason which induces me to support the Motion for the adjournment of the debate. I listened with the greatest interest to the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees, and the suggestion which he made certainly seemed to me worthy of the most serious attention. Any suggestions of the kind I am satisfied would be carefully considered by the Governors. At present, I have had no opportunity of communicating with my Colleagues, only one of whom—the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister—is now present. Whether the right hon. Gentleman agrees with me or not I do not know; but the suggestion which has been made by the Chairman of Committees will, I have no doubt, be carefully weighed and considered by the Governors of the Charterhouse. I, therefore, think the debate ought to be adjourned in order to give them an opportunity of considering that suggestion.

MR. STORY-MASKELYNE (Wilts, Cricklade)

I must repudiate the suggestion which has been made that hon. Members who have opposed the scheme do not know what they are talking about. The reason given by the last speaker is an admirable one for rejecting the Bill at once. In that case, the Governors would have ample leisure to consider the suggestion of the Chairman of Committees. As to the observations of the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir Richard Webster), that hon. Members do not know what they are talking about——


I must remind the hon. Member that the Question now before the House is the adjournment of the debate.


Well, Sir, then I will say that I consider that if we need more knowledge it will best be attained by refusing the adjournment and rejecting the Bill.

MR. W. H. JAMES (Gateshead)

I regard the Motion which has just been moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) and seconded by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) as really a wilful waste of the time of the House.


I do not think that the words "wilful waste of the time of the House" are a proper expression to use.


I withdraw the words at once, and I will substitute "an unintentional waste of the time of the House." I believe the House has already given full consideration to the matter, and as it is thoroughly understood I trust that the House will be allowed to go to a division at once.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 99; Noes 198: Majority 99.—(Div. List, No. 89.)

Original Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


After the division which has just taken place, I do not propose to trouble the House with a further division; but I will ask leave to withdraw the Bill, in order that the matter may be further considered by the Governors.


In that case, I will ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill withdrawn.

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