L&R 2014 – Great St. Barts

Part of my study abroad trip to London and Rome in September is a series of blog posts about the things we see and do while on the trip. This is the fifth of five required posts about London and is about a museum, monument, church or building. In the case of this post: The Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great, or Great St. Barts.

The church hadn’t been on the itinerary, and if not for Richard the tour guide leading us through a gatehouse (once rented and operated by Shakespeare) I would likely never have found the church or even known it was there.

Great St. Barts, seen from just past the gatehouse.
Great St. Barts, seen from just past the gatehouse.

Great St. Barts is one of the oldest churches in England, remarkable for the Norman stonework still in place dating the church back to 1123.

Map of the church with dates of construction / alteration color-coded in.
Map of the church with dates of construction / alteration color-coded in.

It charges admission to go inside, something that hadn’t been part of the planned trip but that Meg paid for all of us (Thanks Meg!) and given the age and recent costs of restoration that is somewhat understandable.

The mix of stonework was amazing. Old Norman pillars beneath newer construction and arches.

Mix of styles and ages of stonework.
Mix of styles and ages of stonework.

I ended up taking a bit over one hundred pictures in this church alone. It was probably the place in England that felt oldest to me. The Tower was too much of a theme park, the bastions of the wall by the Museum of London looked more like rubble than antiquities, Cambridge had a timeless quality to it as we punted down the River Cam, but Great St. Barts just felt old and it showed its age off brilliantly.

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The organist who began practicing for evening services as we were getting ready to leave.
The organist who began practicing for evening services as we were getting ready to leave.

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