City of London
One of the oldest surviving structures in London, St. Barts, as it is usually known is a tremendous and fascinating building.
It was founded by Rahere, a courtier to Henry I, who had a vision of St. Bartholomew on his way back from a pilgrimage to Rome. In 1123 the Augustinians were given the land and Rahere became the first Prior. They made it their remit to help the sick and poor of the "Smooth fields" (Smithfields) which was the beginnings of St. Bartholomew's Hospital - which is still London's premier hospital today.
Much of what remains today is 13th Century with the cloisters dating to the early 15th. The tower was added in the 17th Century. Close by is a vergers house which is the only surviving part of the Priory aside from the church after Henry VIII's reformation. Benjamin Franklin worked here in the 1880s.
The outside churchyard is raised well above the floor level of the church - the reason for this is that during the Great Plague of 1666 so many people died in the parish that they could no longer be buried under ground, so they were laid on top and the earth piled up around them.
Today this is the most satisfying and ancient of all the City of London's many churches.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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