London's oldest parish church

London's oldest parish church

London's oldest parish church is St Bartholomew's.

Location: West Smithfield, London

Description: St Bartholomew-the-Great, is the only surviving part of a Norman priory and London's oldest parish church.

The priory was established in 1123 by a monk named Rahere, who is buried in the church. Rahere was a court jester to Henry I, and on a pilgrimage to Rome Rahere almost died of malaria and was so grateful for his recovery that he vowed to build a hospital on his return to England. He is reputed to haunt the altar periodically.

In a dream he was saved from a winged monster by St Bartholomew and when he arrived back in England Rahere founded not only a hospital but also a priory and church dedicated to St Bartholomew.

St Bartholomew's Hospital ('Barts'), which has also survived, is London's oldest and best-loved hospital.

In 1725 Benjamin Franklin, the US statesman, served a year as a journeyman printer in the Lady Chapel.

The churchyard here is where the stolen Vermeer The Guitar Player was dumped/found wrapped in newspaper back in 1974. It had been ransomed by someone demanding the release of IRA prisoners.

Tours: Rebels, Radicals & Rough Justice

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London's oldest parish church

London's oldest parish church is St Bartholomew's.

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