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900 Years of St Bartholomew the Great

900 Years of St Bartholomew the Great


The History, Art and Architecture of London's Oldest Parish Church


This important book presents a comprehensive history of St Bartholomew the Great, the oldest parish church in London. In 2023, the Priory Church and Hospital will celebrate the 900th anniversary of their foundation.

At the heart of the Smithfield area, with its hospital, pubs, restaurants and market, is a church built when Henry I, son of William the Conqueror, was King of England. Overlooking the fields where kings confronted rebellions, knights jousted and heretics were burnt, St Bartholomew’s Priory and Hospital played a central role in the history of medieval London.

Partially torn down by order of Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Priory was reborn as a parish church. It served the City of London through the tumultuous years of the Reformation and the Civil War and has played host to many of London’s most famous residents. William Hogarth was baptized in its font. Charles Wesley preached in its pulpit. Benjamin Franklin served as a printer’s apprentice in its former Lady Chapel. John Betjeman lived across the street
and memorialized it in his poetry.

The history of St Bartholomew’s is a tale of miraculous survival and continual renewal. It came out unscathed from the Great Fire of 1666 and the bombs dropped in Zeppelin raids in World War I and during the Blitz in World War II. Its splendid Romanesque core has been added to by each successive generation.


This volume – the first comprehensive history of the Church since 1921 – will survey the art, architecture and historical significance of the City of London’s oldest parish church in a scholarly, yet accessible tone. Richly illustrated, this book will appeal to those interested in the history of the City of London, in medieval and Victorian church architecture, in funerary monuments, and in the history of the Church of England.

  • Edited by Charlotte Gauthier

    Published by Ad Ilissvm

    November 2022

    Paperback, 240 x 170 mm

    304 pages, approx. 100 colour illus.

    ISBN: 978-1-915401-03-8

  • Contributors

    Charlotte Gauthier, Royal Holloway, University of London; Dr Christine Merie Fox, lecturer at Utrecht University, the Netherlands; Dr Euan Roger, principal medieval records specialist at The National Archives; Dr Nick Holder, senior properties historian at English Heritage and honorary research fellow at the University of Exeter; Stephen Heywood, FSA, architectural historian and historic buildings consultant; Dr Steven Brindle, senior properties historian at English Heritage; The Reverend Dr Evan McWilliams, Hospitaller of St Bartholomew the Great; Dr Jeremy Warren, Honorary Curator of Sculpture at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and Sculpture Research Curator at The National Trust; Nicholas Riddle, trustee of the Royal School of Church Music; Dr Christian Steer, honorary visiting fellow at the University of York; Jon Bayliss, FSA, independent scholar; The Venerable Peter Delaney MBE, Archdeacon Emeritus of London, Priest in Charge of St Stephen Walbrook, and Associate Priest of St Bartholomew the Great; The Reverend Marcus Walker, Rector of St Bartholomew the Great; The Reverend Canon Dr Jeremy Haselock, Chaplain Emeritus to Her Majesty the Queen, and Associate Priest of St Bartholomew the Great.

  • In the Press

    "This ambitious, well-illustrated book, containing much new research, consists of a series of essays on the architecture of the priory church and its furnishings, monuments, music, and art, from the foundation to the present day." —London Topographical Society 


    "Fine new collaborative history ... (t)he book is richly illustrated, and it concludes with useful appendices." —Church Monuments


    "As Saint Bartholomew the Great celebrates nine centuries, a new volume explores how the church has, against the odds, remained at London’s heart." —The Art Newspaper


    "I expect many London perambulators have a similar story to mine, one of accidental discovery on the way to somewhere else. A new volume, edited by Charlotte Gautier of the University of London, will introduce readers to “London’s oldest parish church” with essays on the church’s history, stretching from the time of Henry I to today."—The New Criterion


    "An attractive book that is pleasing to read, not least because it is well and generously illustrated with colour images throughout ... an admirable survey." —Local History News (British Association for Local History) 

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