The Priory Church of Saint Bartholomew the Great is London's oldest surviving church. Founded in 1123 as an Augustinian Priory, it has been in continuous use since 1143. It is an active Anglican/Episcopal Church located in the part of London known as The City.
Originally known as the Chapel of the Holy Cross, and founded nearby in 1123, the Hospital Church of St Bartholomew the Less, just inside the hospital gates, moved to its present site in 1184. It was called the Less just to distinguish it from its larger neighbour.
On 1st June 2015, the two parishes formed the new united benefice of Great St Bartholomew, which now contains both churches. The Parish Church is St Bartholomew the Great, while St Bartholomew the Less is what is known as a Chapel of Ease – this means it is a church provided primarily for the convenience of those close to it, in this case especially those working or present as patients in the hospital.
The Smithfield area, which includes St Bartholomew's Hospital and Smithfield Market, has a large number of restaurants, bars and pubs both north and south of the Market. At the heart of it all is the Priory Church (that is, the Great), which was built when Henry I, son of William the Conqueror, was King of England. It survived the Great Fire of 1666, and the bombs dropped in Zeppelin raids in World War I and during the Blitz in World War II. In the late 19th century, it was renovated and restored to its medieval plan as far as possible by Sir Aston Webb, his first major restoration project. Drawing on their nearly 900-year history, our Churches today are noted today for their remarkable architecture, traditional formal worship, marvellous music and thoughtful preaching.
The area around the churches is now in the process of changing significantly, and this expected to make the area even more active than it has been until now. To the north of the church, the new Crossrail Farringdon Station is being built. Crossrail expects that 140 trains per hour will travel through the new interchange, which will link Thameslink, Crossrail and the Underground networks. It will also be possible to reach three of London's airports from there. Farringdon will be one of London's busiest stations, and is likely to increase visitors to the area very considerably. To the south of the church, Helical Bar and The Baupost Group of Boston will be re-developing former hospital buildings on Bartholomew Close and Little Britain. When finished, these are expected to comprise 236 new apartments, 21,400m2 of office space, and 2,200m2 of retail space.
The church has appeared in many films, including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love, Amazing Grace, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Other Boleyn Girl, Muppets: Most Wanted, Snow White and the Huntsman, Sherlock Holmes, Jude, The End of the Affair, and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, many TV shows, including Richard II from the BBC's The Hollow Crown, the BBC's Edwin Drood, and the T-Mobile Royal Wedding Advertisement, with more shows and films now in post-production.
The position of Rector is currently vacant.