Farringdon Without History of the Most Interesting Places, Leading Events; and Some Account of the Eminent Men connected therewith, since the year 1600

Francis, Adolphus Decimus


St. Bartholomew

The Church of St. Bartholomew-the-Great deserves mention, as being the oldest Church in the City of London. Two fairs were annually held at St. Bartholomew-tide: one, the great Cloth Fair of the kingdom, in Cloth Fair district: and the other, for the sale of cattle and goods, and likewise a pleasure fair, held in the open space in Smithfield; this last was abolished in , after an existence of 7 years. made a grant to his jester, Rayer, who, whilst travelling on the Continent, had been much impressed with some religious ceremonies he witnessed, determined, on his return to England, to do something towards the salvation of his soul. He therefore founded a Priory within the precincts of St. Bartholomew, wherein was held the Cloth Fair. Rayer is said to have performed many miracles; at least he managed, by his clever jugglery, to impose on large numbers of persons, and achieved a reputation that brought him considerable offerings in money and kind, from devotees who sought his aid or came to worship at St. Bartholomew's Priory. Here is erected a monument to his memory, and there he lies, upon a raised tomb, bare-headed and shaven crown, his hands crossed together; on each side of him are two Friars, in grey, holding two large books. Boniface, Archbishop of Canterbury, visited the Priory in , and was


received by the Sub-Prior, who, not liking the tone of Boniface's interrogations, answered him impertinently, and received for his guerdon a severe beating, at which ensued a fight between the Archbishop's followers and the Priory Monks, who, being in the end severely cudgelled, complained to the King at Westminster, but could get no redress. Within the precincts of Cloth Fair, at the " Hand and Shears" public house, was held a Court of Justice, called dusty feet, or "pieds poudre," and persons guilty of infringing the laws of the fair were tried for any offences of which they were accused, and if convicted were summarily punished with the stocks, pillory, or whipping; and this continued until the Reformation.