Great St. Bart’s: Monks, Movies, and Missing Shoes

currently playing on my laptop: Stonemilker by Bjork

In 2014, I visited Great St. Bart’s in Smithfield in London. I say this like I casually strolled in and calmly snapped a pic. No big.

I’M A GIANT LIAR.

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I was in full-on, complete, and utter freak out mode in this ancient place. Formerly an Augustine monk hangout, the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew (aka Great St. Bart’s) has hosted monks with a sense of humor, film crews galore, and a ghost missing a sandal.

One really ornate window boasts a crossbow bolt jammed though a barrel—a nod to Prior Bolton (bolt-tun, get it?) who installed the gorgeous set of glass panes. I love thinking about monks snort-laughing as their prior appeared in the window above his namesake décor.

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The movies filmed here blew my brains. I mean, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE. AND THE SECOND ELIZABETH MOVIE. AND FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL.

AAAAAA!!!!

Okay. Breathing.

I MIGHT be a Cate Blanchett, Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Geoffrey Rush fan. A little. OKAY FINE A LOT.

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And of course the history!!!

One of Henry I’s favorites, Rahere—a herald/minstrel/monk/wowhedidalot—had a vision of Saint Bartholomew and decided it was his mission in life to open the priory and its hospital.

The place managed to stay alive past the great fire of London and is now a beautiful hodgepodge. The choir is Norman, some of the frontage is half-timbered Tudor, and parts of the old cloister house a café.

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Oh! Also, there is a ghost!

At some point in the history of this place, Rahere’s tomb was disturbed and someone took his foot. Yeah. No idea. Well, when people started reporting a cowled, shadow figure, they returned his sandal, but not his foot. So the ghost still shows up now and again. Maybe you can find him in my pictures???

Great St. Bart’s is a lovely place and I hope you get to visit someday too!

 

 

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