Many of the details of Rahere's life have become confused with legend, but undoubtedly a historical Rahere existed and did many of the things in the legends about him. He has been described as a clergyman (clerk), a courtier, a minstrel, and a jester, and may at different times in his life have been all of these.
He is listed as one of the Canons of St. Paul's Cathedral in a document of 1115. On a pilgrimage to Rome, he fell ill and had a vision of St Bartholomew, who told him to found a hospital. On his return to England, he adopted a religious calling, and in 1123 founded St Bartholomew's Hospital and the nearby church of St Bartholomew-the-Great, becoming prior of the church, a post he held until his death in 1144. His ornate tomb can be found in the church.
Rahere is the subject of a poem, "Rahere", by Rudyard Kipling, collected in his book Debits and Credits, and is a major figure in Kipling's story "The Tree of Justice", collected in his book Rewards and Fairies. He is also a significant character in Rosemary Sutcliff's historical novel for children, The Witch's Brat (1970). It seems likely that Sutcliff was first introduced to Rahere through reading Kipling's Rewards and Fairies as a child, and later chose to use him as a character in one of her own books. Kipling's works were a major and freely acknowledged inspiration for Sutcliff.
- Rahere's grant
- Photograph of Rahere's tomb in the church of St Bartholomew-the-Great
- Notes on the poem "Rahere"
- Rahere at Find a Grave
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