St Bartholomew the Great

Through the Tudor entrance arch, to the church of St Bartholomew’s the Great, made more recently famous as the set for period dramas.


The area to the left of the entrance door was once occupied by the nave of the Priory Church. It was demolished in the draconian English Reformations, of the 1540s and is now a raised churchyard west of the remaining church.


Wonderful Norman pillars from the original church remain.

The founder of the church, hospital and Priory, Prior Rahere, was a courtier to King Henry I. He died in 1143. This tomb dates from 1405 and shows him dressed as an Augustinian canon. The angel carries a shield with the arms of the Priory – the lions of Normandy surmounted by two crowns.


The Lady Chapel (below) is the third one on this site. From 1539 until the 1880s the chapel was secularised and used as a house, a printing works (where Benjamin Franklin worked), and finally as a lace and fringe factory. It was restored in 1896. The painting of the Madonna and Child is by Spanish artist Alfredo Rolland (1998). I didn’t like it.

The Lady Chapel (below) is the third one on this site. From 1539 until the 1880s the chapel was secularised and used as a house, a printing works (where Benjamin Franklin worked), and finally as a lace and fringe factory. It was restored in 1896. The painting of the Madonna and Child is by Spanish artist Alfredo Rolland (1998). I didn’t like it.

Extraordinary sculpture by British artist Damian Hirst entitled ‘Saint Bartholomew, Exquisite Pain’ (2006). It is 24 carat gilded bronze. 


The Great Lectern has been fashioned from ancient timbers from the Lady Chapel (no lace though).


The Cloister was lost to the church after the dissolution of the Priory in 1539. Three bays were recovered in 1905, and the remainder between 1923 and 1928.

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