We are talking about the church of St Bartholomew the Great, which was founded by Rahere in 1123, a courtier and favourite of King Henry I.
Today we take you to one of the few remaining Norman churches in London, a stone’s throw from St Paul’s Cathedral.
St. Bartholomew the Great was founded by Rahere in 1123, a courtier and favourite of King Henry I.
Rahere, perhaps prompted by the death of the king’s wife, Matilda, followed two years later by that of their heir, Prince William, is thought to have renounced his profession and he set out on a pilgrimage to Rome.
In Rome, he fell ill and as he lay delirious he begged for his life vowing that, if he survived, he would set up a hospital for the poor in London.
His prayers were answered and Rahere recovered. On the journey home, a vision of St Bartholomew appeared to him, telling him that he had chosen a place for him in a London suburb of Smithfield where, in his name, he should establish a church.
Faithful to the vision received, Rahere established both a church, a priory of Augustinian canons, and the hospital. Rahere died in 1145 and his tomb is inside the church.
The church has a long history, in fact the Priory was dissolved in 1539 and the nave of the Church was demolished.
Under Queen Mary, the building was briefly a Dominican friars’ house, before it reverted to being a parish church under Queen Elizabeth I.
If you are in London don’t miss this incredible church, which will take you back in time and history!
If you’re too curious, in the meantime you can watch the video of the church on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter!
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