The Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great was founded as an Augustinian priory in 1123. It was founded by one of King Henry I’s courtiers named Rahere who while on a pilgrimage to Rome, fell ill and had a vision of St Bartholomew who said he was to set up a church and hospital for the poor in the Smithfield area of London. Rahere was granted land by Henry I and established a church, hospital and priory of Augustinian canons, serving as both the prior and the master of the hospital until his death. The priory became known for cures and miracles, and many were healed in the hospital which led to a growth in its infamy. The hospital survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries but around half of the priory’s church was ransacked before being demolished in 1543. The church survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 but fell into further despair during the late 17th and early 18th century, at which point it became occupied by squatters. The church was restored in the late 19th century and the hospital is still used as a college of medicine. The Priory Church is a beautiful place to step back in time, and during my visit the Damine Hirst sculpture ‘St Bartholomew Exquisite Pain’ was on show, a truly wonderful piece.
GPS: 51.51892, -0.09942