Day 1,650 of Traveling the World | London, UK – Part 2 | August 9, 2022

The medieval Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great, an Anglican Church – Oh, my! It is London’s oldest surviving parish church and was built in central London north of the Thames (in Smithfield) during the reign of King Henry I in 1123, meaning that next year it will celebrate 900 years! Founded by Augustinian monks, they brought free healthcare to London, as they constructed St. Bartholomew Hospital at the same time. We found the church extraordinary, in that parts of the remaining church are the original construction. Half of the church was demolished in 1543, after being ransacked. But what remains is definitely unique. We decided to devote this entire post to St. Bartholomew Church, as we found it so evocative of an ancient time.

There are fascinating angles, arches, lighting, and views, as you will see in the photos. The last photo shows a few of the movies that were filmed here, but there are several others. The beautiful pipe organ “stopped working” several years ago, but replacing or refurbishing it will cost more than a million pounds. A sign asking for donations said that it costs approximately 1,000 pounds per day to keep the church up and running. We learned this from church volunteers working as greeters, who were very welcoming.

So take a peek into this extraordinary and atmospheric place. It is our hope that you will get a sense of how it casts a spell through its shadows and angles.

The main entrance to the church, a half-timbered, late 16th century frontage placed on a 13th century stone arch. It was uncovered when a bomb in WWI blew off the brick hoardings!
View from the main entrance. You can see two tomb markers on the floor. You can also see that there was still incense smoke in the air from a service that had just ended!
Stones to build the church were gathered by servants and child laborers from all over London.
An intriguing passageway. We think it may lead up to the organ loft.
London’s only indoor oriel window, a kind of bow window, took the place of a set of arches in the 16th century. Look at the close-up in the next photo.
This is the oriel window, installed in the 16th century by the Prior (Abbot) at the time, William Bolton, in order to spy on the other monks. The middle section of the stonework below the window is a pun on the Prior’s name – it shows a bolt from a crossbow piercing a tun (a barrel) – thus, Bolt-tun, or Bolton.
A statue of St. Bartholomew, by Damien Hirst. One art reviewer said he seems to be radiating light rather than reflecting it. This is a typical depiction of St. Bartholomew, who was skinned alive in Armenia, holding his skin over his arm. The statue is from 2006, with more info in the next photo.
Some information on the artwork.
A view of the side of the main aisle – arches atop arches.
The tomb of Prior Rahere, the founding father who built the church (behind the candles).
One of the tombstones on a wall.
Looking toward the entrance.
A photo taken behind the main altar. The column on the extreme left is original, but the others are reproductions.
An art installation, with more info in the next photo.
Until we read this, we didn’t realize that all of the glass pieces were inscribed.
A view of the other side of the main aisle, with the oriel window.
The pipe organ and beautiful illuminated panel of eight saints.
This depiction of the crucifixion was created in 2003.
…and here is some information about the painting.
A bench that looks positively medieval – and check out the heater underneath to keep your seat warm!
Some of the movies filmed here.