London is a city full of historic churches. Some can be a bit hard to find and get missed by the casual visitor. One of these is Saint Bartholomew the Great in West Smithfield.
Built by a courtier of King Henry I, it has been open for worship since 1143 and was the center of a large complex of church buildings before the Dissolution of Henry VIII took away most of its lands and two-thirds of the church itself.
What remains, however, is grandiose. After passing through the narrow gate shown here, you enter a church with high Gothic vaulting, a semicircular aisle going around the nave, and numerous old graves.
A brown marble tomb shows the busts of Percival and Agnes Smallpace (died 1558 and 1588), complete with frilled collars and period costume along with the inscription, “Behowlde youre selves by us sutche once were we as you and you in tyme shalbe even duste as we are now.”
Food for thought.
“Overlooked London” is a new, occasional series on lesser-known but still cool sights of London. Stay tuned!
[Both photos courtesy Christine McIntosh]