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St Bartholomew's Hospital

St Bartholomew the Less parish


Reference code(s): GB 0405 SBL

Held at: St Bartholomew's Hospital

Title: St Bartholomew the Less parish

Date(s): 1547-2000

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 93 volumes and 11 boxes

Name of creator(s): St Bartholomew the Less | City of London


Administrative/Biographical history:

Before the Reformation there appear to have been five chapels within St Bartholomew's Hospital, but only one survived the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. In the winter of 1546/7, when the Hospital was re-founded by royal charter, its precinct was established as the Anglican parish of St Bartholomew the Less and one of the medieval chapels became the parish church. The tower and part of the west wall of the church date from the fifteenth century and are the oldest structures which now survive within the Hospital precinct. The original parish boundary followed the line of the boundary of the Hospital in Henry VIII's day. However, since 1954, the parish boundary has extended to include land on which the Hospital has expanded to the south and east.

Bart's is now unique among English hospitals in being a parish in its own right. The parish has its own churchwardens and, since 1958, its own parochial church council, which functions independently of the Hospital authorities. The title of 'Anglican chaplain', found in practically every other hospital in England, does not exist at Bart's. The role is filled by the Vicar of St Bartholomew the Less, who is correctly known as the 'Vicar and Hospitaller'. In the sixteenth century, these were two separate offices: the Vicar of St Bartholomew the Less, who undertook pastoral care of the parishioners, and the Hospitaller to St Bartholomew's Hospital, who looked after the needs of the patients. However, in the time of William Orme, Vicar from 1670 to 1697, the two positions were combined and they have been held jointly by successive clergy down to the present day. In former times there were a number of tenanted houses in the Hospital precinct, but there are now no parishioners except resident Hospital staff, and the incumbent's main responsibility is for the spiritual welfare of the patients within the Hospital.

The medieval church remained largely intact until 1789-1791, when the roof and practically the whole of the interior were demolished and rebuilt to the design of George Dance junior, the Hospital Surveyor. Dance's structure, however, was rapidly attacked by dry rot, and the church was again rebuilt in 1823-1825. The architect of the second rebuilding was Thomas Hardwick and it is chiefly his work that is visible in the church today. Hardwick retained much of Dance's octagonal design for the interior of the church, but reconstructed it using more durable materials, and pulled down all that remained of the medieval building apart from the tower and the west end. Some of the monuments from the old building were preserved and reinstated, including memorials to Robert Balthrope, Queen Elizabeth I's sergeant surgeon (died 1591), and to Anne, wife of Thomas Bodley, founder of the Bodleian Library at Oxford, whose London house stood within the Hospital precinct in the early seventeenth century. A curious feature of the church is the height of the floor, most of which is some seventy-five centimetres above ground level. The reason for this appears to be unknown. Two of the three bells in the tower are medieval, and are very probably as old as the tower itself. The stained glass windows depicting the Virgin and Child with St Luke, St Bartholomew and Rahere, and also the war memorial windows, were designed by Hugh Easton and dedicated in 1951. They replaced Victorian glass destroyed in the Second World War.

In earlier centuries, attendance at church was compulsory for the nursing staff of the Hospital. Patients were also expected to attend every Sunday, unless they were too weak to do so. Regular Sunday and weekday services are held throughout the year, and the church is frequently used by members of staff for weddings, for the baptisms of their children, and for memorial services. The Vicar and Hospitaller works in close co-operation with the chaplains of other denominations and advises and counsels staff and patients, their relatives and other visitors.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the parish of St Bartholomew the Less, Smithfield, 1547-2000, comprising registers of baptisms, 1547-1986, marriages, 1547-2000, burials, 1547-1848, banns, 1653-1662, 1754-1941, including baptisms and burials of hospital patients; registers of services and preachers, 1794-1999; transcripts of marriage and banns entries, 1547-1837; correspondence relating to the restoration of the Church, 1947-1950; Letters patent of Elizabeth I, exempting the vicarage of St Bartholomew the Less from payment of first fruits, 1586; Letters patent of James I and Anne, concerning the parish's exemption from payment of the tenths and fifteenths, 1607, 1707; papers relating to exemptions from civil jurisdiction claimed by the parish [1587-1707], including liability to provide soldiers;

Vestry minutes, 1691-1971, including perambulation of parish boundaries, 1828; Parochial Church Council minutes, 1958-1971; lists of churchwardens, constables and people fined for refusal to serve as parish officers, 1692-1822; churchwardens' accounts, 1575-1665, 1713-1831; poor rate assessments, 1575-1665; churchwardens' receipt books, 1740-1823, including poor law and militia papers; churchwardens' vouchers, [1700-1900]; carpenter's account for work done relating to church rebuilding, 1789-1791; assessment for payments of Royal Aid and Additional Aid, 1667; Trophy Tax assessment and collection books, 1720-1779; names of subscribers and amounts paid for parish lecturers, 1771-1780; poor rate assessment roll, 1620; poor rate assessment and collection books, [1707-1870]; constables' rate assessment and collection books, 1715-1770; scavengers' rate assessment and collection books, 1600-1620, 1729, 1749-1753; consolidated and incidental (constable and scavenger) rate assessment and collection books, 1789-1862; working papers concerning rate assessments and collections, 1680-1829;

overseers' books of receipts and payments, 1838-1868; apprenticeship indentures, 1622-1822; notices of the intended apprenticeship of children in other parishes, 1821-1822; annual register of parish poor children not yet apprenticed, 1762-1789; notice offering a reward for information on a foundling left in the church porch, 1755; bonds, relating to poor children and pregnant women, 1590-1756; removal orders and pauper examinations, 1710-1828; parish return giving details of numbers and costs of parish poor, 1783-1785; warrants appointing overseers of the poor, 1755-1772; lists of paupers receiving relief, 1755-1861;

lists of occupiers of houses pulled down for the rebuilding of the Hospital, 1757, 1765-1766; lists of paupers from houses pulled down for the Hospital rebuilding, [1760]; lists of poor receiving payments from Sunday collections, 1746-1750; churchwardens' correspondence, 1747-1829, mainly concerning poor relief; agreements and tenders for maintaining the poor, 1746-1772; petitions by the parish for the admission of paupers to St Bartholomew's Hospital, 1711-1773; summonses to churchwardens/overseers of the poor to attend the Mayor's Court or Justice of the Peace for hearings regarding poor relief, 1736-1774, and to produce census returns to the Justices, 1801-1821; assignments of pension to the churchwardens, 1827-1829; list of four London militia men assigned to the parish, with enlistment certificate, 1801-1802; orders to the collector of the Orphans Tax, 1720, 1755, 1757; notices to parishioners concerning the return of lodgers' names, with two returns, [1802]; census return for the parish, 1811; printed circulars received by the parish, 1724-1854, including lists of paupers supported by various parishes; constable's accounts 1657-1659; warrants for the arrest of fathers of bastard children, 1773-1824; oath of the Constable and Scavenger, 1780; scavenger's account, 1730; list of public buildings in Farringdon compiled for lighting purposes, 1716/7; lists of subscribers for the paving of Duke Street, 1781, 1801, 1825; tenders and contracts for cleaning the streets, 1822-1828; sale particulars of houses and shops in Little Knightrider Street, 1819;

property leases and assignments, 1644-1707; probate papers, 1722, 1778; maps of the parish showing details of Hospital buildings, 1827; description of a perambulation of the parish, 1828, including map of the boundary; ground plan of the church in 1789 before reconstruction, 1896; deed of assignment of the position of church organist, 1806; papers relating to the election of the parish beadle, 1755; notice concerning the election of the parish clerk, [1750]; list of parishioners recording their votes in poll for lectureship, 1761; briefs for charitable collections, 1725-1841, mainly for the relief of the poor in London; citations to archidiaconal visitations, 1746-1809; citations, papers and correspondence concerning episcopal visitation and the parish's claim to exemption, 1773-1911; marriage licences, 1791-1861; certificates of banns, 1816, 1861-1903; certificates of registration of deaths, and coroner's order authorising burial, 1838-1847; return giving details of the Vicar and his income, church accommodation, attendance figures, services held and number of baptisms, 1853-1854;

faculties, 1789, 1953-1966; lists and valuations of church plate, [18th century], 1913; extracts from Repertorium Ecclesiasticum Parochiale Londiniense, (1708), concerning the parish and vicars; letter concerning the inclusion of the Church in the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historical Interest, 1950; correspondence regarding Thomas Hayes' bequest, 1949; memorandum about costs of repairs and refurbishment following war damage, 1949; scheme for reorganisation of parishes within the City of London, with map, 1953-1954; diary recording events in the parish, 1923-1924; Hospitaller's journals, 1938-1965; Assistant Hospitaller's journal, 1927-1963; account books, 1927-1946; income and expenditure accounts, 1947-1969; parochial statistics, 1953; maps of the parish showing proposed changes to the boundary, 1958-1963.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The records are arranged as outlined in the scope and content.

Conditions governing access:

Researchers wishing to consult the archives should first contact the Archivist, St Bartholomew's Hospital, for an appointment.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying is not permitted. However, single sheets dated after 1850 may be photocopied at the discretion of the Archivist. Photographs of items are obtainable, subject to copyright regulations, from the Department of Medical Illustration at St Bartholomew's Hospital. Arrangements can be made via the Archivist. Outside photographers and researchers' own cameras are not permitted.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

A catalogue is available at St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Overseers' book of receipts and payments, 1890-1908, are held by the Guildhall Department of Manuscripts.

Publication note:

St Bartholomew's Hospital Journal, War Bulletin, 1940 volume 1, pp 117-141, describes the earliest register of baptisms, burials and marriages.



Archivist's note: Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: October 2001

Churches | Religious buildings | Buildings | Architecture
Hospitals | Health services
Parish records | Documents | Information sources
Poor | Disadvantaged groups
Protestantism | Christianity | Ancient religions | Religions
Medical institutions
Primary documents
Social sciences
Social welfare

Personal names

Corporate names
Church of England
St Bartholomew's Hospital | London

Smithfield | City of London | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
St Bartholomew the Less | City of London | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe