London holds an abundance of history that would take years to fully explore. And with the city being a place of religious significance and as the centre point of the Church of England it’s not surprising that there’s such an abundance of historically significant sites and churches in the city. If you’re looking for a prime example of religious architecture, cultural history and medieval art work, then the Church of St Bartholomew the Great is definitely worth a visit. For those on London City Break Packages who are looking for a great way to spend the afternoon in the Shoreditch area, then look no further than one of the oldest and historically significant churches in the city.
History of St Bartholomew the Great’s Church
Located very close to the Barbican Underground Station, St Bartholomew’s Church is a short walk from the Montcalm Suites London branches which are dotted around East London. Founded in 1123 AD, the church was originally part of a Monastery dedicated to the Augustinian Canons before its dissolution in 1539. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the church become a Parish and although it suffered wear and tear over the years, survived the centuries to become the attraction it is today.
Originally founded by Prior Rahere, a courtier of Henry I who, after the death of Henry I’s wife and their son Prince William, decided to make a pilgrimage to Rome in search of a more worthy life. Whilst there, Prior Rahere fell ill and vowed that if he got better, he would return to London to set up a hospital for the poor. Upon his return, Rahere set up a church, a priory and hospital in the London Suburb of Smithfields. He dedicated the church to St Bartholomew after witnessing a vision of the apostle during his return to London from Rome. It was this apostle who was known to have brought Christianity to Armenia and was eventually to become a martyr.
Due to the churches significance in London’s history, there are many pieces of stunning art work which stay with the city on both a permanent basis and temporary. These range from the stunning Damien Hirst sculpted St Bartholomew statue which has been fully gilded and dazzling to behold when the light catches it, resembling the vision of St Bartholomew by Rahere himself. The statue is located in the churches South Transept. Another piece of art in the church which is sure to catch your eye is the Richard Harrison drawn Golgotha. This depiction of Jesus on the cross is stirring due to the abstract and violent depiction of his demise, all reds and whites depicting the searing pain of crucifixion. Don’t miss fine artist Josefina De Vasconcellos’s Risen Christ statue, a beautiful stone carved statue depicting Jesus’s rising from the tomb. On top of her art work in St Bartholomew’s Church, Vasconcellos work been seen in St Pauls Cathedral, becoming the first woman artist to have work showcased there.