The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1. Originally published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1921.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Preface', in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1, (Oxford, 1921) pp. v-viii. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]


Some personal explanation of how it fell to my lot to write this book seems necessary.

During the second half of the nineteenth century two great efforts were made to restore this church to a more worthy condition for Divine worship, and also to restore it to its proper rank as one of the great churches of the land.

The first effort commenced in 1863, the second in 1884: the latter is still not fully spent.

My family had been connected with the parish since 1828, when my grandfather, John Evans, came to reside in Bartholomew Close, and from No. 60 my father and mother were married in the parish church of St. Bartholomew the Great in 1844.

In consequence, I suppose, of this long association with the parish, I was, in 1884, appointed Honorary Secretary to the Restoration Committee and Rector's Warden of the church.

In this dual capacity I have had occasion to search the records of the place and the results I have year by year made public by means of open lectures delivered in the church.

As I have often been asked to publish these lectures in the form of a book I am now doing so, and in a fuller manner than is possible in a lecture. It has been my endeavour to trace the history of the monastery of St. Bartholomew from the time of its foundation to the time of its suppression, and to show the causes which led to the practical separation of the hospital from the priory.

I have then endeavoured to trace the history of the parish church and of the parish to the present time, and to compare, from personal observations, the architectural features of the church and the arrangement of its monastic buildings with those of similar great monastic churches in England. I have endeavoured to show the important place this church holds among the great twelfth-century churches in the history of the architecture of the country.

I have, together with the list of the authorities, given a brief description of the various manuscripts from which information has been obtained, and to the introductory account of the monastery I have added a short description of the Augustinian Order as illustrated by the records of St. Bartholomew's.

The Book of the Foundation has been translated from the Latin for this book by Mr. William Barnard and Mr. Humphrey H. King, and their translation I have used in the text, but I have printed in Appendix I the Middle-English translation, made towards the close of the fourteenth century, because of its interest as an example of the English of Chaucer's time.

I do not claim to be an historian, or to have any literary skill, but I offer these volumes to all lovers of St. Bartholomew's (and they are many) as an honest endeavour to put into one book all that is known about it. As the majority of my readers will not be antiquaries, and may not have more knowledge of such matters than I had when I commenced my researches, I have ventured to give such explanations of antiquarian, historical, and legal matters as I myself had to acquire before I could fully understand the records before me.

I gratefully acknowledge the help received from others in carrying out the work: from the custodians of the Public Record Office and of the Guildhall Record Office and Library; from the Librarian of St. Paul's; from the Librarians at Lambeth Palace and at the Society of Antiquaries of London, and from the Governors of St. Bartholomew's Hospital for permission to make the transcripts from their monastic cartulary; also from Sir Norman Moore's published researches thereon, and from Mr. J. A. Twemlow, when working on the Regesta at the Vatican; from the Rev. H. F. Westlake for assistance in searching, by permission of the Dean, the muniments of Westminster Abbey. Great help was given by the late Mr. John Hope, the parish clerk and verger of St. Bartholomew's, by the accurate Latin transcripts made by him from the original records, and by Mr. William Barnard and Mr. Humphrey H. King for the translations and legal explanations of the same. I acknowledge help from Miss Benham on the Episcopal Registers at St. Paul's and from Mr. Leland L. Duncan on the Wills and in other ways.

On the antiquarian side I have had valuable suggestions from the late Sir William St. John Hope, Mr. C. R. Peers, and Mr. John Bilson of Hull; and in many matters, antiquarian and otherwise, from Mr. H. S. Kingsford, assistant-secretary of the Society of Antiquaries, who has also read the proofsheets of the book.

On the architectural side I had the help of Sir Aston Webb, P.R.A., and his two sons, Mr. Maurice E. Webb and the late Mr. Philip E. Webb (killed in action, 1916); from the late Mr. F. Renton Barry (also killed in action), who was a member of Sir Aston's staff, and from Mr. F. H. Greenaway, a member of the same during the Restoration of 1885, both of whom worked on the plans and threw light on the arrangement of the monastic buildings. I acknowledge assistance from the late Mr. R. Phené Spiers and Mr. F. H. Reed in securing for the church the plans of the Restoration of 1664, and from the late Mr. Tavenor Perry, who was engaged on the same plans. Also from the late Mr. F. J. Withers, who kept a diary of the work whilst it was in progress at that time. Help was also given by Mr. Bligh Bond by suggestions as to the use of the small clerestory window on the north side, and by the late Mr. J. D. Crace concerning the original colour-scheme of the church.

On the monastic side help came from the late Dr. J. C. Cox, both personally and by his writings, and information from Cardinal Gasquet and the late Rev. H. N. Birt, O.S.B.; on Rahere's effigy from Mr. E. S. Prior, and on the bells from Mr. H. B. Walters, who has written a description of the bells for the book, also from Mr. R. A. Daniell. I am indebted to Mr. G. W. Miller, of Chislehurst, for the descriptions of the heraldry on the monuments.

To the late Mr. J. Franklin Adams I am indebted for the information concerning the orientation of the church. The copying of the graveyard inscriptions was the work of Mr. W. H. Irons, now my co-churchwarden.

For parochial affairs I had the fifty years' experience of the late Mr. W. H. Jackson, the vestry clerk. For much transcribing, copying of registers, verifying references, &c., I have to thank Miss C. G. Howes, Miss F. E. King, Miss M. M. Elson, Miss M. W. Gadd, and my daughter, Miss H. L. Webb. I am indebted to Mr. William Barnard and Mr. Humphrey H. King for reading the typewritten sheets, the work of Mrs. J. Jamieson. For many of the views of the church I am indebted to the Rev. Charles F. Fison, for all the views from the Gardner Collection to the late Major Sir Edward F. Coates, Bart., and for permission to use various plans and plates from my paper in Archaeologia to the Society of Antiquaries of London. To Sir Ernest George, R.A., for a water-colour drawing of the Smithfield Gatehouse, here reproduced. To my son Christopher I owe the drawing of Rahere's effigy and the design for the cover of this book. The plates are by Mr. Emery Walker. I ask for pardon from those donors of photographs many years ago whose names I may have failed to record. And last but not least am I indebted to my children, who have allowed me to devote to the book my short leisure time which they might rightly have claimed as their own.


60 Bartholomew Close, E.C. 1. November 1921.