The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3

Allen, Thomas


St. Bartholomew the Great.


This church is situated on the east side of . At the dissolution of monasteries, the old priory church was made parochial and given to the parishioners in lieu of their own church, as appears by the grant to sir Richard Riche, of the , from which the following is an extract:

And whereas the great close of St. Bartholomew hath been before the memory of man used as a parish within itself, and distinct from other parishes; and the inhabitants thereof have had their parish church, and church-yard, within the church of the late monastery and priory, and to the same church annexed, and have had divine service performed by a curate from the appointment of the prior and convent; and whereas a certain chapel, called

The parish chapel,

with part of the great parish church, have been taken away, and the materials sold for our use; nevertheless, there still remains a part fit for erecting a parish church, and already raised and built: we do grant to the said Rich. Riche, knt. and to the present and future inhabitants within the great close, that part of the said church of the late said monastery or priory which remains raised and built, to be a parish church for ever, for the use of the said inhabitants; and to be called the parish church of St. Bartholomew, the Apostle the Great, in

West Smithfield

, in the suburbs of London, distinct and separate from other parishes; and that all the void ground,


feet in length and


feet in breadth, next adjoining to the west side of the church, shall be taken for a church-yard,



The next clause appoints Richard Riche patron, and John Deane clerk, rector; and places the church in the jurisdiction of the diocese of London, and fixes the fruits at per annum; per annum to the rector, and his successors, their salary arising from certain tenements.

In the d year of Elizabeth, another grant was made to the same sir Richard Riche, by the title of Richard lord Riche and to his heirs, afterwards earls of Warwick and Holland, from whom hath


descended the late possessor William Edwardes, of Johnstone-hall, in the county of Pembroke, South Wales, son of lady Elizabeth

Rich, and created in baron Kensington of the kingdom of Ireland. His lordship died ; and was succeeded by his only son William Edwardes, lord Kensington.

The exterior of this church is so greatly concealed by the adjacent houses, that with the exception of the west front, but little of the building meets public observation: the north side, however, may be seen from a narrow court behind the houses in Cloth-fair; the outer walls, including apartments over the aisles, now used as a school for the parish, were rebuilt in red brick, the work of prior Bolton; the windows introduced at that time into the aisle, have mullions worked in brick, and the whole of these particulars are in the domestic style of the century; the east end has been rebuilt with brick in more modern times; this portion has large round-headed windows. The south side is equally obscured with the northern, and a part of the ancient galleries of the church, which were situated above the aisles, are occupied by the Protestant dissenters school. The church in its ancient state was built in the form of a cross; the south transept still exists in ruins, and it had probably fallen to decay prior to the Reformation; the north transept and nave have left no trace behind; the choir and square of the tower at the intersection with the transept, still exist, and constitute the parish church; this portion then we proceed to describe. Entering from , through a fragment of an elegant pointed arch of the early part of the century, forced of receding arched ribs resting on corbels, and separated by hollows, enriched with diagonal leaved flowers, a church-yard is approached, which occupies the site of the nave; at the extremity is the west front of the church, built at the reformation, out of the ruins of the priory. It contains a low doorway, and over it an ugly window divided by mullions into compartments,


a poor attempt to imitate the ancient pointed style, which seemed to have fled with the unfortunate monks. The tower, which occupies the south-west angle of the building, is a clumsy fabric of brickwork, square in plan, and in elevation made by string courses into stories; the basement contains a doorway, on which is the date , partly concealed by a pentice. In the upper stories are pointed windows with mullions in an execrable taste. The elevation is finished with battlements, and crowned with an open turret of wood sustaining a vane; the angles are guarded with heavy buttresses. The interior is approached by the entrances just noticed, as well as by a door in the north side, made by enlarging of the windows of the ancient edifice. Under the tower is a fragment of pointed architecture in the style of the great gate. The remainder of the building is the unaltered Norman architecture of Rahere, and although much mutilated, shows, in some portions, interesting specimens of the architecture of the century. In the south aisle is a low doorway leading into the ruinated south transept, which is now used as a burying ground. The side walls remain; the architecture of which is the same as the remaining portions of the church. The aisles are vaulted with in the plainest and simplest style; and in the portion which sweeps round the altar, (the eastern termination, as in most Norman churches, being semicircular) the architecture is in the most perfect state.

The bold and massive arches at the junction of the nave with the choir and transepts are still perfect. Those which stretch across the nave and choir are semicircular, and rest on corbels attached to the grand piers; the others, which bound the transepts, are pointed, and spring from columns formed in clusters. All the archivolts are richly ornamented with zigzags, hollows, and rounds, in succession; and in the spandrils are small circular and round-headed windows, now walled up. On each side of the choir ale semicircular arches dividing the body from the aisles; they rest partly upon massive piers and a circular pillar, feet in diameter and feet in height, including the capital; and all the parts are marked with an unusual degree of strength even for a Norman building; the arches show the billet moulding. The gallery story consists of a large arch, enclosing a smaller arcade, sustained on slender pillars, with square capitals. The whole of the openings are walled up, and in some parts the arches of this story are entirely destroyed. The , or clerestory, has been rebuilt in more modern times with pointed arches; the sweeping mouldings rest upon brackets carved with animals and busts, the work, probably, of the century. The roof is timber, and is sustained on massive beams crossing the church, resting on corbels attached to the side walls, and carved with cherubic heads. The east wall has been partially rebuilt; the remains of the ancient mouldings of the former windows are visible. The wall is occupied by a large altar-piece, which consists of a composition of columns and arches surmounted by


entablatures, sustaining obelisks in the style of an ornamental building. In an arch in the centre is the decalogue, and on a pannel above is the arms of king Charles I in itself a curiosity, on account of its preservation from the puritans, who destroyed the arms of this sovereign wherever they found them, with the same avidity as the revolutionary partizans of France exercised their hatred to royalty. On the south side of the choir, and occupying the place of of the arches of the gallery story, is a semi-hexagonal bow-window, in the domestic style of the century. It consists of a dado, richly ornamented with pannels; the centre containing the bolt-in-tun, the rebus of prior Bolton. Above this is an open screen of lights, now walled up, in tiers, in the front and in the flanks, and the whole is crowned with an embattled cornice. This elegant little window formed a screen to the gallery or seat of prior Bolton, the proper stall in the choir having been deserted for this more elevated and pompous seat, from which the prior could pass into and from the church without observation; so far had the Romish church departed from her own early uses at the period immediately preceding the Reformation. The ancient monastic pulpit remained until the repairs which are now going on; it was affixed to of the piers on the north side; the form was polygonal, ornamented with niches in each face; it was destroyed in an attempt at its removal, through the clumsiness of a workman. pulpits, in the modern style of arrangement, are now made in the choir, nearer to the altar rails, and only serve to interrupt the view of the altar; they are polygonal, and are sustained on pillars; each face of the polygon is occupied with handsome pannelling. A spacious gallery crosses the west end, which contains an organ, erected in , and another gallery is constructed in the remains of the south transept. The font, which is situated at the base of the south-west pier of the transept, is a massive octangular basin on a pillar of the same form. It is devoid of ornament, but remarkable as the only ancient font existing in the city.

Behind the altar is a charnel-house, which has obtained the singular appellation of


It was once an appendage to the altar of a more elevated cast. In this portion of the church is a low doorway communicating with the close; in the spandrils of the arch is the rebus of prior Bolton. The original windows of the church have all been destroyed; the aisles are lighted by small ones with low arched heads, the work either of prior Bolton, or of the period when the priory church was made parochial. In the north aisle, a pointed arched doorway, in the early pointed style of the century, which was once enriched with columns and receding mouldings, has been converted into window. The window in the south transept is the work of the century, and it is not improbable that this portion having fallen to decay, was detached by Bolton, whose funds might be in


sufficient equally to repair the entire edifice, the outer walls of which appear to have been nearly rebuilt by him.

Considerable expense would now be requisite to put the church into a complete state of reparation, and which it is to be regretted the parochial funds are insufficient to supply, but with the aid of common repairs, the immensely strong and massive walls of the church are likely to bid defiance to time for ages still to come.

The dimensions are as follows:--
Length of the choir138
Presumed extent of the nave87
Total length within the walls when perfect225
Breadth of body60
Aisles (each)12
Total breadth84
Breadth of transept (in ruins)36
Length of ditto27
Internal height of church at transept46
Height of tower138
The monuments are very numerous. The founder Rahere has a splendid altar tomb at the north side of the chancel, the work of prior Bolton, with the exception of the effigy of Rahere. It consists of an oblong pedestal, the dado ornamented with the following shields of arms, in enriched quaterfoils . a cross, . lions passant gardant, in pale, and in chief ducal coronets, or. France and England quarterly. . bend between martlets, On the ledger is a slab of stone of less extent than the altar tomb; on the inclined edge is this inscription: . Upon the ledger lies extended the effigy of of the founder, in the habit of a regular canon of the order of St. Augustine; the head rests on a tasselled cushion, and the hands are conjoined in prayer. At each side of the effigy is a monk kneeling and holding the holy bible, opened at . At the feet is a angel rising out of clouds, crowned and habited in a close green robe, and holding a shield, on which are the arms of the prior in relief, painted in colours. At the back of the monument are apertures ornamented with tracery which once communicated with the aisle, and allowed the people assembled there a view of the elevation of the host at the high altar; the canopy consists of arches over the tomb, and another in blank on the wall eastward of it, besides a , over a


small doorway communicating with the aisle; each arch is surmounted with a pedimental canopy richly crocketted and ending in finials; the canopies are divided by pinnacles: those which are above the altar tomb have grotesque figures at their bases. Behind the canopies are tiers of small niches, and the whole is finished with a frieze, ornamented with grotesque and other carvings, and crowned with a cornice, the leaves enriched with reversed trefoils, bearing on their points strawberry leaves. The ceiling of the canopies over the altar is richly groined, and springs from pillars in the angles, and attached to the wall at the back of the monument. This handsome composition is kept in excellent preservation by the hospital, and the only damage it has sustained is by a tablet to the memory of Thomas Roycroft, esq. A. D. , being thrust into the canopy over the doorway. At the last repair, the pinnacles and many of the upper portions of the design were restored, and the whole now appears in its original perfection. On the south side of the chancel is the monument of sir Walter Mildmay, founder of Emanuel College, Cambridge; it is an elegant architectural composition, painted in imitation of various marbles, consisting of an altar tomb surmounted by a canopy, sustained by Corinthian pillars, and enriched with various shields; on the back is inscribed:

Mors nobis lvcrvm. Hic jacent Gvaltervs Mildmay miles et vxor ejvs ipse obiit vltimo die Maii


. Ipsa decimo sexto die Marti,


. Reliqvervnt dvos fillos et tres filias fvndvbit collegivm Emanvelis Cantabrigae moritvr cancellarivs et sub-thesavrarivs scaccarii et regiae maiestati a consiliis.

On the north side of the choir is an elegant monument, representing a man in armour, kneeling beneath a tent, the curtains of which are held back by angels; it was erected to the memory of sir R. Chamberlain, K. B. Jac. I.

On the opposite side, on the spandral over the circular pillar, is a bust in an oval, with an inscription recording James Rivers, esq. died .

In the circular arch at the back of the altar, is a bust with the following curious epitaph:--

Hic inhvmatvm svccvbat qvantvm terrestre viri vere venerandi Edwardi Cooke, philosophi apprime docti nec non medici spectatissimi qvi tertio idvs agvsti anno dom


anno aetatis


certa resvrgendi spe (vti necesse) natvrae concessit.

Vnsluce yo« briny floods; what, can yee keepe

Yo« eyes from teares, and see the marble weepe«

Burst out for shame, or if ye find noe vent

For teares, yet stay, and see the stones relent.

Nearly adjoining is the effigy of a kneeling figure within a recess, to the memory of Eliz. Freshwater, died , aged .

Besides the above, there are numerous modern monuments which we have not space to particularize.

On the south of the choir is the vestry room, coeval with the church, and retaining its original architecture.

In the eeste parte

of the same chirche ys an oratory, and yn that an awter yn the honure of the most blessid and pp'tuall vi'gine Mary yconsecrate.

The present occupiers of this chapel are not perhaps aware, that the blessed Mary once deigned to appear before a monk of peculiar piety, named Hubert, in it, to inform him that her


(the brotherhood) did not pray and watch to her approbation.

Of the following interments in this church, the notices are taken from the archiepiscopal registry at .

Will of John Walden to be buried

in nova capella ecclesie sancti Bartholomei juxta Smythfield London, ex parte boreali ejusdem ecclesie nuper edificat.

Dated at Tottenham, on day, . Proved .

Richard Brigge, alias dict« Lancaster rex armorum, to be buried in the conventual church of St. Bartholomew, W. ; dated .

Walter Shiryngton;

my wretched body to be buried in Waldone chapelle within the priorie of saint Bartelmei, on the north side of the auter, in a tomb of marbil there to be made, adjoyning to the wall on the north side aforesaid, of the height of


poules fete, for men to knele and leane upon the same tombe to here masse at the sai I auter.

Dated at Barnes, ; proved at Lam. beth, .


[] The annexed engraving is from an actual survey made in June 1828, and exhibits the extensive remains of this celebrated priory.Plan of the Priory of St. Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield. The present church, the choir of the ancient one. South transept in ruins. Chapter-house. Site of the north transept. Entrance to the present church. Presumed entrance to the nave of the ancient church. Remains of an ancient gateway. Farrier's shop. Site of the woodhouse. Prior's house, containing on the attic the infirmary and dormitory. Vestry, formerly the Virgins' chapel. Tomb of Rahere the founder, Warwick house. Hand and Shears public house. East cloister, now a stable. Site of the north cloister. Site of the south cloister. Site of the west cloister. North entrance to the present church. Saint Bartholomew's chapel. Chapel vestry rooms, now a saw-pit Site of the mulberry gardens belonging to the monastery. Cloisters under the hall or refectory. Site of the nave of the ancient church. East entrance to the present church

[] June. 1828.

[] All this part of the monument is evidently older than the remainder; it was not an unusual thing to preserve a statue from an ancient monument, and set it up again on a new and more splendid one, this was evidently done in the present instance, as a glance at the tomb will plainly shew that the ledger was not constructed at the same time as the remainder of the composition.

[] Reg. Chicheley, p. i. f. 31.

[] Ibid. f. 331.

[] Reg. Stafford and Kemp, p. 71 a. b.

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 Title Page
 CHAPTER I: The site, extent, buildings, population, commerce, and a view of the progressive increase of London
 CHAPTER II: List of the parishes and churches in London, with their incumbents, &c
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of Aldersgate Ward
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of Aldgate Ward
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of Bassishaw Ward
CHAPTER VI: History and Topography of Billingsgate Ward
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of Bishopsgate Ward, Without and Within
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of Bread-street Ward
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of Bridge Ward Within
CHAPTER X: History and Topography of Broad-street Ward
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of Candlewick Ward
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of Castle Baynard Ward
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of Cheap Ward
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of Coleman-street Ward
CHAPTER XV: History and Topography of Cordwainer's-street Ward
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of Cornhill Ward
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of Cripplegate Ward Within
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of Cripplegate Yard Without
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topography of Dowgate Yard
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of Farringdom Ward Within
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of Farringdon Ward Without
CHAPTER XXII: History and Topography of Langbourn Ward
CHAPTER XXIII: History and Topography of Lime-street Ward
CHAPTER XXIV: History and Topogrpahy of Portsoken Ward
CHAPTER XXV: History and Topography of Queenhithe Ward
CHAPTER XXVI: History and Topography of Tower Ward
CHAPTER XXVII: History and Topography of Vintry Ward
CHAPTER XXVIII: History and Topography of Wallbrook Ward