Once you enter this oncepowerful vestige of Medieval England, opened in 2017 after being off limits since 1348, it’s hard to believe you’re still in Modern London. These ancient collected quads and halls have been a monastery, mansion, school, hospital, home for the poor, and burial ground—it’s still the last four, and in fact, you’ll meet the skeleton of one longtime resident, a victim of the Black Plague in the 1300s, discovered in the digging for the new Elizabeth Line. A journey so winding makes for a hodgepodge of ancient things to amaze you: gardens and cobbled courtyards, slanted slots used by preHenry VIII monks to receive food so they wouldn’t have the disturbance of human contact, and a paneled Jacobean chapel (full of carvings of dogs and weapons, its patron’s symbols) that miraculously survived the Blitz thanks to the protection of a mere wooden door than now hangs blackened on its hinges. The museum is free to see, but to truly get inside, you must be escorted. One of the 40 “Brothers” (even the women are called “Brothers”) who has been lucky enough to be selected to retire here give affectionate tours of what the last 700-odd years have left behind; on the afternoon tours, the smell of lunch still lingers in the great dining hall, for this time-stunned, one-of-a-kind hideaway is still in active use. On one tour I took, the Brother cocked his ear at the sound of church bells in the distance. “St Bartholomew’s,” he said. “The only set of bells to date from before the Dissolution. 1510, I think.” At the Charterhouse, another miracle of survival, we can hear and see exactly what people did half a millennium ago.