Bartholomew Close, EC1A

Place Name

A confusing network of ancient winding streets and an irregular combination of squares that were once the enclosed precinct or close of St Bartholomew’s Priory. The priory was founded in 1123 by Rahere an Anglo-Norman priest and monk best known for being Henry I’s jester. The legend has it that on a pilgrimage to Rome, Rahere fell terribly ill and had a vision of St Bartholomew, who saved him and ordered he establish a religious hospital. On returning to England, he followed this calling and founded a priory at Smithfield, where he was being installed as its prior, a position he held until his death. During the dissolation of the monastaries this was closed down and now all that remains of this former great religious house are the church dedicated to St Bartholomew the Great and St Bartholomew the Less and St Bartholomew’s Hospital. The church remains in parts and is one of the few memorials from Norman London.


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