The founder, Thomas Sutton, held high public office and through shrewd investment became one of the wealthiest men in Jacobean England. In 1611, the year of his death, Sutton made provision for the establishment of a hospital for pensioners and a school for boys. Buildings near Smithfield in London which had once housed a Carthusian monastery, established in the fourteenth century, were purchased and the School opened in 1613. Reflecting the history of the site, pupils have always been referred to as Carthusians. Even today, the hospital for pensioners remains on the original site.
In response to the recommendations of the Public Schools Commission of 1864 the Governors agreed to move the School from London. They purchased 68 ½ acres of the Deanery Farm Estate, just outside Godalming, having sold the School’s original London site to Merchant Taylors’. The School arrived in Godalming in June 1872, with 120 boys. A rapid increase in the number of pupils demanded additional boarding houses and facilities and further purchases of land to the north and west increased the size of the School’s grounds to around 200 acres.Designed by Philip Charles Hardwick to reflect the cloistered walkways of the 14th century Carthusian monastery in Smithfield (home to the original School), the “old School” is an ideal representation of Westminster, Cambridge University and everything in between, including a classic example of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s work in England’s largest Memorial Chapel.
The magnificent Chapel, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and built by School staff, was consecrated in 1927 as a memorial to nearly 700 Carthusians who died in the Great War. It is the largest war memorial in England. Some 350 names have been added to commemorate those who died in the Second World War and other conflicts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Close to the chapel stands a bright red telephone box, probably Scott’s most well-recognised design.