Rahere's Garden - Masthead
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Consolabitur ergo Dominus Sion, et consolabitur omnes ruinas ejus; et ponat desertum ejus quasi delicias, et solitudinem ejus quasi hortum Domini.

"For the Lord will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord." -- Isaiah 51:3 (RSV)

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The Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great


The history of St. Bartholomew-the-Great describes a story of human kindness. The church is dedicated to Voragine’s light-hearted apostle, identified by many scholars as Nathaniel, famed in the Middle Ages for his prowess as a healer of bodies and souls: The angels go with him, which never suffer him to be weary ne to be an hungered, he is always of like semblant, glad and joyous. St. Bart’s founder, Rahere, built the priory and associated hospital in fulfillment of a vow to the apostle, in thanks for his miraculous recovery from malaria. Bartholomew promised Rahere – in a vision or a fever dream – that prayers for healing made in his church would always be heard and answered:
For everyone who being converted and penitent shall pray in this place shall be heard in heaven, or, seeking with a perfect heart help from any tribulation, without doubt shall obtain it; to those who knock with pious longing at the door of the Spouse attendant angels shall open the gates of heaven, receiving and offering to God the prayers and vows of a faithful people (Book of the Foundation, ch. 4).
St. Bart’s has given solace to the poor and dispossessed of London since its establishment in 1123 C.E.

Throughout the turbulent medieval period and through the cataclysms of the Reformation, St. Bartholomew’s maintained its devotion to the well being of its neighbors. Unlike the more common monasteries founded with great enthusiasm by the Normans after the Conquest, the Augustinian canons of St. Bart’s lived in the world, bringing medicine and spiritual leadership to a London suburb better known for its slaughterhouses and gallows. Despite several budget crises in latter years, the hospital founded by Rahere is still available for the sick and impoverished, the traumatized, the homeless. St. Bartholomew's Hospital and the London Hospital - known locally as Barts and the London - house the pre-eminent trauma and emergency care units in the UK. Rahere must be smiling.

In 2022, nearly 900 years after its founding by Rahere, the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great still lavishes spiritual guidance on its parishioners, as well as its visitors from around the world. The living story of St. Bartholomew’s continually reminds us that of all the variety of human gifts, kindness alone is never a mistake, and is always welcome.

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Table of Contents (In Lieu of an Actual Navigation System)

Original content -- Foundation & Early History

Rahere -- The founder and first prior of St. Bartholomew's Priory

The Apostle Bartholomew -- patron saint of the Priory Church and its founder, Rahere

Bartholomew in the Golden Legend -- Jacobus de Voragine's essay, representing medieval belief about the Apostle

The Priory in the MIddle Ages

Advowsons & Possessions of St. Bartholomew the Great

The Priors & Rectors of St. Bartholomew the Great -- the men who have shaped the story of the Priory and parish

A Tour of St. Bartholomew's

Worley's map of the church - click for larger image

Worley's plan of the church (1908)
Plan of St. Bart's by Webb - thumbnail

Webb's map of the church (some time after 1935)

Modern map (1999)
Present Day (1999)

Click on the above thumbnails to see larger images

Source material for the site (out of copyright, or copyright granted for use on this site)

Bartholomew in Early Texts -- source material for the discussion of the Apostle

The Book of the Foundation -- written within a decade of Rahere's lifetime, including his biography and a description of the early history of the church. Requires Acrobat Reader. Click here for an HTML version (still working on the formatting, but the words are all here!)

Charter of St. Bartholomew's Priory & Hospital granted by Henry I to Rahere (with definitions of Anglo-Norman legal terms provided)

Charles Bird's Etchings of St. Bartholomew's -- with original text

An Illustrated Account of St. Bartholomew's Priory Church -- by Normanus, with 56 original etchings (under construction)

Rahere Yesterday and To-Day and His Priory Church of St. Bartholomew -- a fundraising appeal by Canon E. Sidney Savage (under construction)

Royal Charter granted by Henry I to St. Bartholomew's (with glossary)

St. Bartholomew-the-Great -- from A. E. Daniell's London City Churches, published 1896

The Two Foundations of St. Bartholomew's Hospital -- an address presented by W. Morrant Baker, F.R.C.S. to the Abernethian Society on October 8th, 1885

A Personal Note

Acknowledgements & Dedication

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Recommended External Sites

The Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great -- the official Web site of St. Bart's

British History Online's digital version of E. A. Webb's encyclopedic Records of St. Bartholomew's -- This overview includes links to the tables of contents of each volume, as well as an invaluable search engine for the entire work.
Table of Contents for Volume I
Table of Contents for Volume II

The London Diocese of the Church of England

City of London churches

Photos of the Exterior by Keith (Boiler Bill) Chesworth

London Volume 2 edited by Charles Knight -- 1842 discussion of Rahere's church, hosted by Tufts University

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St. Bart's coat of arms
Photographs & text © Tina Bird, 2003-2022
St. Bart's coat of arms

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