The churches of Bartholomew-the-Great and Bartholomew-the-Less

Pages 351-359

Old and New London: Volume 2. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.

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In this section



The Old Bartholomew Priory—Its Old Privileges—Its Revenues and Early Seals—The Present Church—The Refectory of the Priory—The Crypt and Chapel—Various Interesting Remains of the Old Priory—The Monuments of Rayer, the Founder, Robert Chamberlain, and Sir Walter Mildmay—The Smallpage Family—The Old and New Vestry-rooms—The Monument to Abigail Coult—The Story of Roger Walden, Bishop of London—Dr. Francis Anthony, the Physician—His Aurum Potabile—The Priory of St. Bartholomew-the-Great as an Historical Centre—Visions of the Past—Cloth Fair—The Dimensions of St. Bartholomew-the-Great—Old Monuments in St. Bartholomew-the-Less— Injudicious Alterations—The Tower of St. Bartholomew-the-Less—The Tomb of Freke, the Eminent Surgeon.

In 1410, when the priory was rebuilt, it was entirely enclosed with walls, the boundaries of which have been carefully traced out by many diligent antiquaries. The north wall ran from Smithfield along the south side of Long Lane, to its junction with the east wall, about thirty yards west from Aldersgate Street. This wall is mentioned by Stow, and delineated by Aggas, who has marked a small postern gate in it, which stood opposite Charterhouse Square, where there is now (says a writer in 1846) the entrance to King Street, Cloth Fair. The west wall commenced at the south-west corner of Long Lane, and continued along Smithfield and the middle of Due Lane (now Duke Street) to the south gate, or Great Gate House, now the principal entrance to Bartholomew Close. The south wall, starting from this spot, ran eastward in a direct line to Aldersgate Street, where it formed an angle, and passed southwards about forty yards, then resumed again its eastern course, and joined the corner of the east wall, which ran parallel with Aldersgate Street, at the distance of about twenty-six yards. The priory wall was fronted by the houses of Aldersgate Street, London House among others, between which and the wall ran a ditch. At the demolition of this wall various encroachments took place, which led to great disputes (especially in 1671) about the boundaries between the privileged parish of St. Bartholomew and the City. The old privileges of Rayer's Priory and precinct were, that the parishioners were not to serve on juries, and could appoint their own constables; paid few City rates, taxed themselves, and were not required to become free of the City on starting in business.

When, in 1539, Sir Richard Rich purchased the church and priory for £1,064 11s. 3d., the thirteen frozen-out canons received annuities of £6 13s. 4d. each. Queen Mary granted the church to the Black Friars, but they had but a short reign, and the Riches, Earls of Warwick and Holland, came again into unrighteous possession. The priory, at the dissolution, was valued at £653 15s. a year. The revenues were principally derived from small houses in the parishes of St. Nicholas and St. Sepulchre, and also from country property, such as land at Stanmore, and in Canonbury, as before mentioned. The chantries were very rich, and the alms and oblations were abundant. The old seals of the priory, necessary to render legal any alienation of rents or possessions, were kept by the prior under three keys, which were in charge of the prior and two brethren specially chosen. The earliest seals of the priory which are preserved are attached to a life grant of the church of St. Sepulchre, from Rayer to Haymon, priest, and is dated 1137. The seal of the reign of Edward III. represents St. Bartholomew standing on a lion, holding a knife (symbol of martyrdom) in his left hand, and a book in his right. On either side of him is a shield, on on which are three lions, guardant, passant. This was the common seal of the hospital. On the seal of 1341, St. Bartholomew is seated on a throne, holding a knife (so appropriate to the locality) in his left hand; around him are the heavens, with moon in crescent, and twelve stars; on the reverse is a boat, with a church in it. In what was probably the last seal, the saint stands under a canopy, which is supported by two pillars.

The ruins of the old priory were less hidden and obliterated when the writer on the Priory and Church of St. Bartholomew in Knight's "London" searched for them than they are now. The present church is merely the choir of the old priory church. Its front was probably originally in a line with the small gateway yet remaining, and which formerly led to the southern aisle of the nave, now entirely destroyed. The gateway was a finely-fronted arch of four ribs, each with receding mouldings, alternating with Norman zigzag ornaments, springing from a cluster of sculptured heads. In Knight's time the south wall, once the wall of the south aisle, belonged to a public-house which had rooms with arched ceilings, a cornice with a shield extending through three of them, and a chalk cellar. These had belonged to the priory. Among costermongers' houses and sheds, and near a smith's workshop, were the arches of the east cloister. The roof and part of the wall fell in many years ago, but five arches of the east and one of the west side still remained. A fine Norman arch leading into the aisle was walled up. In several parts of the ruins of the cloister the groins and key-stones and elaborately carved devices were still visible. It was calculated by the writer in Knight's "London" that the cloisters of St. Bartholomew's were nearly fifteen feet broad, and have extended round the four sides of a square of nearly 100 feet.

The same writer describes the refectory of the priory, then a tobacco-manufactory, divided into two or three stories, as originally a room some forty feet high, thirty feet broad, and 120 feet long, finely roofed with oak. The ceilings and floors of the three stories were evidently temporary, and formed of huge timbers plucked from the original roof. The crypt, which ran below the refectory, still exists. It is of immense length, with a double row of beautiful aisles, and in perfect preservation. A door in this vault is traditionally supposed to lead to Canonbury. Perhaps, says one writer, it was really used as a mode of escape by the Nonconformist ministers who occupied the adjoining chapel during part of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. "It opened till lately," says Mr. Delamotte, in 1846, "into a cellar that extended beneath the chapel, and where the fire broke out, in 1830, that destroyed the latter, and some other interesting parts of the old priory." The chapel formed part of the monastic buildings, but what part, is unknown. It had an ancient timber roof, and a beam projecting across near the centre, and in a corner there is said to have been an antique piece of sculpture, representing a priest with a child in his arms (probably some saint and the infant Jesus). In several parts of the walls were marks of private doors. This chapel had been occupied by Presbyterian ministers till 1753, when Wesley obtained possession of it, and opened it for his followers. It is supposed that Lord Rich's house occupied the site of the prior's stables and wood-yard, and that an old house with a vaulted ceiling and a fine carved mantelpiece marks the spot, near Middlesex Passage, where the mulberry-garden stood, the last tree in which was cut down about 1846.

At the back of the present church, and between it and Red Lion Passage, stood the prior's house. It may still be traced by its massive walls, square flat pillars, and fluted capitals, and the old dormitory, which some years ago was occupied by gimpspinners. There are also remains of the south transept, and the ruins still heaped there comprise also the chapter-house, which stood between the old vestry and the transept. There were traces formerly of the once beautiful arch, that led into the chapter-house, and there is also a fragment of the wall of the transept. The picturesque-looking low porch, with its deep pent-house, says one writer on the subject, now the entrance into the church from the transept, was formerly an entrance into St. Bartholomew's Chapel. In Cloth Fair a narrow passage points to the position of the north transept. Extending from the sides of the choir north and south, and partly over the aisles, were buildings used as schools; that on the south was burnt in the fire of 1830; the other still exists, and it contains two of the fine circular arches that form the second tier of the choir.

Within the porch of St. Bartholomew's are the remains of a very elegant pointed arch, that probably led into the cloisters. The aisles are separated from the choir by solid pillars and square piers indifferently, from which spring five semicircular arches on either side. The arches next the choir are adorned with billet moulding, which does not cease with the arch, but, in some places, is continued horizontally over the cap of the column, until it meets the next arch. The triforium has similar arches, each opening being divided into four compartments by small Norman columns and arches, formerly bricked up, but now re-opened. The prior's state pew is a bay, or oriel, probably added by Prior Bolton, on the south side. His rebus is upon it. This oriel communicated with the priory, and was where the prior assisted at the service, in all the pride of feigned humility, and from this point of vantage he could watch his thirteen canons. There are similar oriels, says Mr. Godwin, in Malmesbury Abbey, and in Exeter Cathedral.

There is a clerestory above the triforium, with pointed windows, and a passage the whole length of the building. The roof is of timber, divided into compartments by a tie-beam and king-post, the corbels resting on angels' heads. There also remains a portion of the transepts.

"One of the most interesting features of the choir," says Mr. Delamotte,"is the long-continued aisle, or series of aisles, which entirely encircle it, opening into the former by the spaces between the flat and circular arch-piers of the body of the structure. It is about twelve feet wide, with a pure arched and vaulted ceiling, in the simplest and truest Norman style, and with windows of different sizes, slightly pointed. The pillars against the wall, opposite the entrance into the choir, are flat, apparently made so for the convenience of the sitters. One of the most beautiful little architectural effects, of a simple kind that we can conceive is to be found at the north-eastern corner of the aisle. Between two of the grand Norman pillars, projecting from the wall, is a low postern doorway, and above, rising on each side from the capitals, a peculiarly elegant arch, something like an elongated horseshoe. The connection between two styles so strikingly different in most respects, as the Moorish, with its fantastic delicacy (?), variety, and richness, and the Norman, with its simple (occasionally uncouth) grandeur, was never more apparent. That little picture is alone worth a visit to St. Bartholomew's." The postern leads into a curious place, enclosed by the end of the choir (or altar end) on one side, and the circular wall of the eastern aisle on the other. It is supposed by Mr. Godwin to have been the chancel of the original building, and no doubt it was, if we are to suppose that the altar wall has undergone great changes. At present the space is so narrow, and so dark, that it need not surprise us to hear that it is called the Purgatory. We have no doubt that this part has been visible, in some way, from the choir, and not, as it is now, entirely excluded from it; for a pair of exactly similar pillars, with a beautiful arch above, standing at the south-east corner of the aisle, are, in a great measure, shut in here.

The monument of Rayer (or Rahere), the founder of the priory, the pious jester of Henry I., is in the north-east corner of the church, next the altar, and almost exactly opposite Prior Bolton's beautiful oriel window. Bolton restored this tomb with pious care, and may have placed his window so as to command a perpetual view of that memento mori. This monument is of a much later date than the period of Rayer's death. It consists of a highly-wrought stone screen, of pointed Gothic, enclosing a tomb, on which, under a canopy, rests the prior's effigy. The roof of the tomb is exquisitely groined. Except a few of the pinnacles, the monument is still uninjured, and Time has watched kindly over the good man's grave. A crowned angel kneels at Rayer's feet, and monks of his order pray by his side. Each of the monks has a Bible before him, open at Isa. li., which contains the following verse, so applicable to the church built on the marsh:—"The Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody."

"Besides the choir of the old church," says Mr. Godwin, "there remains a portion of the transepts, and of the nave, at their junction with it, over which rose a tower. At the commencement of each transept, a large arch, spanning its whole width, springs from the capitals of slender clustered columns, and, at the end of the nave and commencement of the choir, other arches (the width of the church) spring from corbels, sculptured to represent the capitals of similar columns. The four arches are surrounded by zigzag ornaments. Of these arches, those at the intersection of the transepts are pointed, and have been referred to as among the various instances of the incidental use made of the pointed arch in early buildings, before it became a component part of a system, at least in England." "The cause for this," says Mr. Britton, the famous antiquary, "was evident; for those sides of the tower being much narrower than the east and west divisions, which are formed of semicircular arches, it became necessary to carry the arches of the former to a point, in order to suit the oblong plan of the intersection, and, at the same time, make the upper mouldings and lines range with the corresponding members of the circular arches."

One of the finest monuments in the choir is that of Robert Chamberlain. It is of very dark brown marble, and consists of a figure of a man in complete armour, kneeling in state under an alcove, while two angels are drawing aside the curtains. The monument of James Rivers bears the date 1641 (eve of the Civil War), and bears this inscription—
"Within this hollow vault there rests the frame
Of the high soul which once informed the same;
Torn from the service of the State in 's prime
By a disease malignant as the time;
Whose life and death designed no other end
Than to serve God, his country, and his friend;
Who, when ambition, tyranny, and pride
Conquered the age, conquered himself, and died."


Beyond is a sumptuous and curious transitional monument, half-classic, half-Gothic, in memory of Sir Walter Mildmay, 1689. This gentleman, the generous founder of Emanuel College, Cambridge, held offices under Henry VIII. and Edward VI.; and, though not compliant enough, was made by Elizabeth Chancellor of the Exchequer.

In the corner next to Sir Walter's monument is that to the memory of the Smallpage family (1558), which is of very dark marble. It contains two busts, one of a male, the other of a female. The former has a fine face and a double-peaked beard; the latter, in a full ruff, looks rather a Tartar.


In the spandrils of some of the arches of this church there are ornaments which resemble the Grecian honeysuckle, and which are unusual in Gothic work. A small bit of the old nave is now used as the organ-loft; and over what was once part of the aisle of the nave rises the poor brick tower, built in 1628. The vestry-room is part of the south transept, and a magnificent chapel once stood on the east side of this transept. When the ill-judged classic altar-piece was taken down, some years ago, the stone wall was found painted bright red, and spotted with black stars. The chamber between the choir and the east aisle, early in this century, contained several thousand bones.

Near the junction of the south and east aisles is the old vestry-room, a solemn, ancient place, probably once an oratory. The present vestry, a mere place for registers and surplices, is built over the southern aisle. Here is a beautiful Norman semicircular arch, forming one of a range of arches by which the second storey of the choir was probably continued at a right angle along the sides of the transept. "Among the monuments of the aisles is one in the form of a rose, with an inscription to Abigail Coult, 1629, who died "in the sixteenth year of her virginity." Her father, Maximilian Coult, or Colte, was a famous sculptor of the time, and was employed by James I. in various public buildings. In the office-book of the Board of Works appears the line, "Max. Colte, Master Sculptor, at £8 a year, 1633." Filling up the beautiful horseshoe arch, which it thus conceals, at the southeastern corner, is the monument of Edward Cooke. There appears to have been attached to the northern aisle—probably corresponding in position with the old vestry—another chapel.

In Walden Chapel, on the north side of the altar, Roger Walden, Bishop of London, was buried (instead of in St. Paul's—but why, no one can guess). "Never had any man," says Weever, "better experience of the uncertainty of worldly felicity." "Raised," says Mr. Delamotte, "from the condition of a poor man by his industry and ability, he became successively Dean of York, Treasurer of Calais, Secretary to the King, and Treasurer of England. When Archbishop Arundel fell under the displeasure of Richard II., and was banished, Walden was made Primate of England. On the return of Arundel, in company with Bolingbroke, and the ascent of the latter to the throne, Arundel of course resumed his archiepiscopal rank and functions, and Roger Walden became again a private individual. Arundel, however, behaved very nobly to the man whom he must have looked on as a usurper of his place, for he conferred on him the bishopric of London. Walden did not live long to be grateful for this very honourable and kindly act, for he died within the ensuing year. 'He may be compared to one so jaw-fallen,' says Fuller, in his usual quaint, homely style, 'with overlong fasting, that he cannot eat meat when brought unto him; and his spirits were so depressed with his former ill-fortunes, that he could not enjoy himself in his new unexpected happiness.'"

In St. Bartholomew-the-Great was buried, in 1623, Dr. Francis Anthony, a learned physician and chemist of the reign of James I., who was frequently fined and imprisoned by the London College of Physicians for practising physic without a licence. Dr. Anthony, who seems to have been a generous and honest man, prided himself on the discovery of a universal medicine, which he called aurum potabile, or potable gold, which he mixed with mercury.

"Dr. Anthony," says Mr. Delamotte, "published a very learned and modest defence of himself and his aurum potabile, in Latin, written with great decency, much skill in chemistry, and with an apparent knowledge in the theory and practice of physic. In the preface he says 'that after inexpressible labour, watching, and expense, he had, through the blessing of God, attained all he had sought for in his inquiries.' In the second chapter of his work he affirms that his medicine is a kind of extract or honey of gold, capable of being dissolved in any liquor whatsoever, and referring to the common objection of the affinity between the aurum potabile and the philosopher's stone, does not deny the transmutation of metals, but still shows that there is a great difference between the two, and that the finding or not finding of the one does not at all render it inevitable that the other shall also be discovered, or remain hidden. The price of the medicine was five shillings an ounce. Wonderful cures, of course, are displayed in the doctor's pages. His publication produced quite a controversy on the merits of aurum potabile. We need not wonder to find that Dr. Anthony had implicit believers in the value of his nostrum, when we see the great chemist and philosopher, Boyle, thus commenting on such preparations: 'Though I have long been prejudiced against the pretended aurum potabile, and other boasted preparations of gold, for most of which I have still no great esteem, yet I saw such extraordinary and surprising effects from the tincture of gold I spake of (prepared by two foreign physicians) upon persons of great note with whom I was particularly acquainted, both before they fell desperately sick and after their strange recovery, that I could not but change my opinion for a very favourable one as to some preparations of gold.'"

A local antiquary, who is as learned as he is imaginative, has furnished us with some notes on the priory and its neighbourhood, of which we gladly avail ourselves:—

"Excepting the tower and its immediate neighbourhood," says the writer, "there is no part of London, old or new, around which are clustered so many events interesting in history, as that of the Priory of St. Bartholomew-the-Great, and its vicinity. There are narrow, tortuous streets, and still narrower courts, about Cloth Fair, where are hidden away scores of old houses, whose projecting eaves and overhanging floors, heavy cumbrous beams, and wattle and plaster walls, must have seen the days of the Plantagenets and the earlier Tudors. There are remains of groined arches, and windows with ancient tracery, strong buttresses, and beautiful portals, with toothed and ornate archways, belonging to times long anterior to Wycliffe and John of Gaunt, yet to be found lurking behind dark, uncanny-looking tenements. To the real lover of the past history of our great City; to the earnest inquirer into the rise and progress of our present civilisation; to the pious student of the earlier times of our English Church, and her struggles after freedom, there is no part of modern London that will better reward a careful survey than that now under our consideration.

"Note that dark archway yonder. Fully seven centuries have passed since the hand of some good lay brother traced its bold outline, and worked with cunning mallet and chisel the beautiful beading and its toothed ornaments. And in the old times, when Chaucer was young, and his Canterbury Pilgrims were men and women of the period, processions of cowled monks and chanting boys, with censers and crucifix, wended their way from the old priory to that of the Black Friars, by the Thames; and not unfrequently, when Edward III. and his favourite Alice Pierce had spent the morning in witnessing the tournay of mailed knights in Smithfield, have they and their attendants, with all the pomp and pageantry of chivalry, passed beneath this old gateway to the grand entertainments provided by the good prior for their delectation, in the great refectory beyond the south cloisters. Rhenish and Cyprus wines, with sack and strong waters, were there in plenty, and geese, swans, bustards, and lordly peacocks, graced the well-filled board, with venison pasties and the boar's head ready at hand; whilst all such fruits as were then naturalised amongst us were reared by the careful fathers in their garden at Canonbury, for the use of the good prior's table.

"In later years the solemn, weather-worn stones of this old archway have had sad scenes to frown upon, and yet, nearer our own day, merry parties have gambolled and frisked beneath the ancient portal, as they wended their way to the pandemonium of mirth and folly in Bartholomew Fair.

"In the Great Close, where is now a row of dilapidated houses, was once the west cloister of the priory, and here, as we turn, was the south cloister, just beyond which was, until quite lately, the remains of the great refectory. Beneath it was much of the ancient crypt, with its deep groined arches, more than half buried under the débris of ages. Some portion of this is still left us, beneath the modern buildings erected on the spot.

"As we go round the Great Close, towards the other end of the church, we pass by some very old houses, that occupy the place where was once the east cloisters. Behind these houses used to be a great mulberry-tree, only removed in our own time. This was formerly the centre of the cloister court. You fancy you see a tall, bareheaded man, in monkish garb of grey, his rosary dangling by his side, as he stands near a pillar of the cloister, deeply immersed in the breviary he holds in his hand. See his sandled feet, and his long grey beard; he is the personal friend of the good Prior Rayer. Now he moves, and silently steps across the grass towards the big mulberry-tree, where he sits down upon a stone seat beneath its umbrageous branches, and laying down his book, he takes from the folds of his habit a scroll. Slowly he unrolls it, and carefully studies the curious lines, curves, and ornaments drawn thereon. That old monk is the good Alfune, the builder of St. Giles's, Cripplegate.

"See here, is the prior's house, its big stones hidden under a casing of bricks and stucco, whilst here and there, like big rocks, a buttress crops out, an enormity quite unsuited to the gingerbread buildings of modern times. But these good monkish architects built more for the future than for themselves. Look above: there, where is now a row of windows to a fringe factory was once the dormitory, or 'dormite,' of the monks. They needed lookingafter sometimes, so the prior wisely kept them near himself at night.

"Let us go along this dark and narrow passage. Now we are in Cloth Fair. This is where the ancient cloth fair was held, to which came merchants from Flanders and Italy, with their precious wares for the sons and daughters of old London. How aged some of these houses are! floor leaning over floor, until you may fancy they are toppling upon you. Now come with me under this low gateway, and take my hand, for it is quite dark here, and we must walk in Indian file, the space is so narrow. Between the houses and the low wall, as your eyes become used to the deep gloom, you will notice that the first floor entirely covers the narrow court behind, and is supported on posts, and the next leaning over the one beneath it. These houses have seen many generations of tenants, and in some of them the old cloth business is still carried on. Now peep over the wall on your left. You will find the level much lower there, for they have lately been clearing away some of the accumulated rubbish, and 'dust and ashes' of past ages, and have exposed to view some beautiful windows, that formed part of the prior's house, perhaps the infirmary, or 'firmary,' as that was under the same roof, or a portion of the crypt, used for such a purpose mayhap. Past these very windows the old priors of the monastery must have gone to the service in the church. Let us follow, and note, as we step into the ancient Norman aisle, the finely-curved semicircular arches, and the curious nooks and crannies, only to be found in such places. See, we have to go through that small door near the purgatory into the choir.

"What a blaze of light! There are scores of tapers on the altar, the crucifix, emblazoned banners, and the rich vestments of the officiating priests; and as they cross and recross the tessellated floor of the chancel, note that they make each time low genuflexions towards the altar. Mark the incense-bearers, swinging the spicy odours to and fro, which is wafted towards us, and mingles, as it were, with the loud pealing of the organ and the sweet chanting of the boy choristers, and the low responses of the cowled brethren of the priory.

"Now they pass in procession round the church, along the choir, and down the lofty nave, towards the beautiful entrance-gate. Anon they return, and on reaching the altar-tomb of their founder, Rayer, they stop, a priest swings a censer to and fro before it, whilst all kneel and cross themselves; then again they move towards the altar, and as the choir ceases chanting, the last notes of the organ are heard reverberating along the lofty roof. The brethren follow each other slowly towards the door, the tapers are extinguished one by one, and thus the pageant fades from our imagination; and once more we find ourselves in Smithfield, outside the Cloth Fair gate of the ancient Priory of St. Bartholomew."

The dimensions of this most interesting church, half Norman, half early English, are generally given thus: The height about 40 feet, the breadth 60 feet, the length 138 feet; add to this 87 feet for the length of the destroyed nave, and we have 225 feet as the entire length of the church of Rayer's priory. The church was much injured in the fire of 1830, when a portion of the middle roof of the south aisle fell.

When Rayer, on his return from doing penance at Rome, built a hospital in Smithfield, in performance of a vow made in sickness, he added to it that chapel which is now called St. Bartholomewthe-Less, which, after the dissolution, became a parish church for those living within the hospital precinct. In Stow's time the church seems to have been full of old monuments and brasses of the fifteenth and later centuries, a few of which only have been preserved.

Among those which no longer remain were two brass effigies, "in the habit of pilgrims," with an inscription, commencing—
"Behold how ended is
The poor pilgrimage
Of John Shirley, Esquire,
With Margaret, his wife,"
and ending with the date 1456. "This Shirley," says Mr. Godwin, "appears to have been a traveller in various countries. He collected the works of Chaucer, John Lydgate, and other learned writers, 'which works he wrote in sundry volumes, to remain for posterity.' 'I have seen them,' says Stow, 'and partly do possess them.' Such of the epitaphs as Stow omitted to mention were recorded by Weever, in his 'Funeral Monuments.' The earliest of them was as follows:—
'The xiiii.c. yere of our Lord and eight,
Passyd Sir Robart Greuil to God Almight,
The xii. day of April; Broder of this place,
Jesu for his mercy rejoice him with his grace.'

"The length of the church, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, was 99 feet, and the breadth was 42 feet, except in the chancel, the narrowness of which latter, however, was more than counterbalanced by a chapel on the north side."

In 1789, Mr. George Dance, the architect and surveyor to the hospital, repaired the church, by first destroying the whole interior, leaving only the old walls, the vestibule, and the square tower. Dry rot very soon setting in, in an aggravated form, Mr. Hardwick, in 1823, commenced the rebuilding, turning out Mr. Dance's timber octagon, and replacing it with stone and iron. It was then found that Mr. Dance, in his contempt for Gothic architecture, had ruthlessly cut away altar-tombs and such mediæval trifles. The result of all this incompetent tinkering is a compo tower and an iron roof. In the east window are several saints, the arms of Henry VIII. and the hospital, and those of various hospital treasurers. North of the communion-table is a tablet in memory of the wife of Thomas Bodley, Elizabeth's ambassador in France and Germany, and the generous founder of the great library at Oxford. In this church there is also a monument to Henry Earle, surgeon, of St. Bartholomew's, which was erected to this amiable man in 1838. In the lobby that leads to the western porch, where a sexton hung himself in 1838, there is a canopied altar-tomb and several relics of old Gothic sculpture. Among others, a niche containing the figure of an angel bearing a shield, and beneath it the arms of Edward the Confessor, impaled with those of England.

Near Mr. Earle's tablet is a large monument, presenting a kneeling figure beneath an entablature, supported on two columns, and inscribed to Robert Balthrope:—
"Who Sergeant of the Surgeons sworn
Near thirty years had been.
He dyed at sixty-nine of years,
December's ninth the day;
The year of grace eight hundred twice,
Deducting nine away."

The tower of St. Bartholomew-the-Less contains some fine Norman and early English arches and pillars. The piscina from the ancient church is used as a font. A beautiful chancel has been built, in the style of the Lady chapels in Normandy. The pulpit and reredos are marble and alabaster, with bas-relief of the Sermon on the Mount, and the stained glass windows are by Powell. The parish register records the baptism of the celebrated Inigo Jones, son of a Welsh clothworker, residing at or near Cloth Fair; and the burial, in 1664, of James Heath, a Cavalier chronicler of the Civil Wars, who slandered Cromwell, and has been branded by Carlisle, in consequence, as "Carrion Heath." He was buried near the screen door, says Aubrey.

Upon entering the chapel there is, immediately upon your left hand, a remarkably curious tomb of the fireplace kind, most elaborately wrought. It is the tomb of Freke, the senior surgeon of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, who wrote many works upon surgery, still to be found in its library. His bust is to be seen in the museum of the hospital, and he is represented by Hogarth, in the last plate of "The Stages of Cruelty," presiding aloft over the dissecting-table, and pointing with a long wand to the dead "subject," upon whom he is lecturing to the assembled students. There is likewise in the office of St. Bartholomew's a curious large wooden chandelier, which Freke carved with his own hand.