My Clerkenwell Life | Ann Kenrick OBE

Cycling enthusiast, writer, Master of the Charterhouse, Ann Kenrick OBE is also a true Clerkenwell convert. She, quite rightly, would urge you to pay the Charterhouse a visit.

What first drew you to Clerkenwell’s fine shores?
My job as the first female Master of the Charterhouse, which has been a London institution for over 400 years – the fact that a Grade One listed Queen Anne house came as part of the job
is wonderful.

What does your work there involve?
As well as overseeing the wellbeing of 43 Brothers (the title still given to the residents of the Almshouse who live here), sorting out tenant’s problems and making sure we
put the Charterhouse on the map as a major tourist destination, I have responsibility for the future financial health of the operation and day-to-day oversight of the kitchens, infirmary, museum, and learning centre.

What’s your favourite story about the Charterhouse?
It’s impossible to choose just one! We’ve got stories about monks, monarchs, the offside rule… and the Brothers all have such interesting lives. One sang at both the Queen’s and King George’s coronation, and at the funeral of Rudyard Kipling. It’s such an old building, do you ever worry that it’s haunted? Being built on a former burial pit does beg that question! Of course, many have died here – unlike other Almshouses we are often able to care for residents up until the end of their lives. But still, the overwhelming sense of the spirit of the place is of benignity, security and community. Although I did hear a story about the ghost of a dog appearing on the staircase here during WWII to warn people that there would be a bombing raid.

Where’s your favourite place to go in Clerkwenwell?
I’m a keen cyclist so biking up and along the canal is a great joy and I love my morning swim at the Golden Lane Estate pool. But my greatest pleasure comes from sitting in the gorgeous Charterhouse gardens – a real oasis in this busy area.

Where would you go to eat?
We are really spoilt for choice locally which is not great for the waistline or the bank balance! One of the unusual aspects of my job is that the community eats together in the Great Hall every lunchtime and the chefs are incredibly versatile, producing wonderful mushroom risotto for the Brothers at lunchtime and then delectable scallop canapes for private functions in the evening. Our partner coffee house On The Green is perfect for lunch or a bite after work with a glass of wine.

Where would you go for a drink?
The best place to unwind is The Zetter Townhouse with eclectically furnished surroundings and delicious wines and cocktails. The staff are not just charming and attentive but also gorgeous! I’ve also spent a lovely cosy snowy morning holed up in the Jerusalem Tavern.

What’s Clerkenwell’s best kept secret?
Without doubt the Charterhouse! Our free museum and chapel were visited by over 36,000 in our first year of opening – but I am still gobsmacked by the number of people who pass by the mysterious high wall on Clerkenwell Road daily but have no idea what lies within. Stepping through the gates and discovering seven hidden acres is a revelation.

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