Charlton House is a Jacobean building in Charlton, today part of south-east London, but until 1889 in the county of Kent. Originally a residence for a nobleman associated with the Stuart royal family, it later served as a wartime hospital, then a museum and library, and is now a community centre.
The house was built in 1607?12 of red brick with stone dressing, and has an “H”-plan layout. The interior features contemporary staircases, panelled rooms, ornamental ceilings and chimney pieces.
It was built by the crown to house Sir Adam Newton and his royal charge. He was then Dean of Durham and tutor to Prince Henry, the son of James I, and older brother of the future Charles I. Greenwich Palace, where their mother lived much of the time, was nearby. But the prince died almost as soon as the house was finished, in 1612. Newton became Receiver-General, sold his office as dean, and in 1620 became a baronet.
The diarist John Evelyn, who knew the house and was well acquainted with Newton’s son, Sir Henry Newton, stated that the house had been built for Prince Henry. Because of Sir Adam’s court connections, the designer of the house is often presumed to be John Thorpe, one of the first professional English architects, who had served as Clerk of Works for the royal palace at nearby Greenwich ? the Palace of Placentia. Thorpe had left the Office of Works in 1601 for private practice. Other royal connections are seen at Charlton House in the form of the Prince of Wales’s feathers above the east door to the hall and in the saloon, where there is also the royal monogram, “JR” (for James I); the royal Stuart coat of arms in the west bay; and the Garter and Prince of Wales’s motto, “Ich Dien” in the east bay.