St Bartholomew the Less

Another in the series on historic churches in the City of London …

By the time of the Great Fire of London in 1666, there were over a hundred parish churches and other places of Christian worship within and immediately without the walls of  the City. To be precise, according to  Parish Clerks’ records, there were 97 churches within the walls of the City, and 16 without, making a total of 113. 

St Bartholomew the Less was originally built,  as one of five chapels attached to the Priory of St Bartholomew  in the twelfth century, and subsequently extended in the fifteenth (see also previous posting on St Bartholomew the Great). It became a parish church after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the early sixteenth century.  Inigo Jones was baptised in the church  in 1573, and John Lyly was buried there in 1606.

Stained-glass window depicting founder Rahere as a jester

The church was undamaged in the Great Fire of 1666, although nonetheless requiring to be substantially rebuilt by George Dance the Younger between 1789-93, and again by Thomas Hardwick between 1823-5, and restored by his grand-son Philip Hardwick between 1862-3.  Damaged in the Blitz, and repaired in 1950-1.  The oldest surviving part is the  fifteenth-century tower, located just inside the eighteenth-century Henry VIII Gate leading into St Bartholomew’s Hospital. 

Among the many treasures in the church is a – defaced – memorial brass commemorating John Markeby (d. 1439) and his wife Alice (d. 1479).

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