GreaterLondonSMITHFIELDStBartholomewGreat(sarahcrosslandSTAFF)1 SarahCrossland

St Bartholomew the Great

There are very few historic places in London where the early medieval period is so beautifully preserved as at St Bartholomew the Great, even entry to the church is through a 13th century arch with a half timbered gatehouse.

Smithfield, Greater London

Opening times

Monday to Friday (from 14th February to 10th November): 8.30am to 5pm.
Monday to Friday (from 11th November to 13th February): 8.30am to 4pm.
Saturday (all year): 10.30am to 4pm.
Sunday (all year): 8.30am to 8pm.


West Smithfield
Greater London

The priory church was founded in AD1123 as part of a monastery of Augustinian Canons. The priory was dissolved in 1539 and the nave of the church was demolished. Under Queen Mary, there was briefly a house of Dominican friars here, before it reverted to being a parish church under Queen Elizabeth I. Various parts of the building were damaged or destroyed through the centuries until restoration began in the 19th century and continued into the 20th century.

St Bartholomew's was established by Prior Rahere a courtier and favourite of King Henry I. In Rome, like many pilgrims, he fell ill. As he lay delirious he prayed for his life vowing that, if he survived, he would set up a hospital for the poor in London. His prayers were answered and he recovered. As he turned for home the vision of Saint Bartholomew appeared to him and said ‘I am Bartholomew who have come to help thee in thy straights. I have chosen a spot in a suburb of London at Smithfield where, in my name, thou shalt found a church.’ A suburb meant outside the walls of the city.

True to his word Rahere set up both a church, a priory of Augustinian canons, and the hospital. He lived to see their completion and served as both prior of the priory and master of the hospital. It is possible that he was nursed at Barts before his death in 1145. His tomb lies in the church.

The Norman chancel and apse survive from Rahere's church, a remarkable reminder of the medieval period, incorporating some of the best Norman architecture in Greater London. The chancel arcade rises to a triforium and clerestorey, creating a beautiful, flowing example of the Romanesque style beloved by the Normans.

Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles. He is reputed to have brought Christianity to Armenia where tradition states that he was later flayed alive and crucified head down. There are numerous reliquaries in the museums and churches of Europe said to contain some portion of his body.

  • Captivating architecture

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Famous connections

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Magnificent memorials

  • National heritage here

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Accessible toilets in church

  • Accessible toilets nearby

  • Bus stop within 100m

  • Café in church

  • Café within 500m

  • Church shop or souvenirs

  • Dog friendly

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Non-accessible toilets in church

  • On street parking at church

  • Parking within 250m

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Train station within 250m

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Church of England

  • Cornerstone Grant, £10,000, 2020

  • Our Cornerstone Grants fund urgent repairs and essential community facilities such as toilets and kitchens to help keep churches open.

Contact information

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St Andrew

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A site of worship for at least 1000 years, but when the crypt was excavated Roman remains were found so the site could have been in use for much longer still.