|St Bartholomew the Less|
The Church of St Bartholomew the Less
|Denomination||Church of England|
|Parish||St Bartholomew the Less|
|Diocese||Diocese of London|
(Priest in Charge & Rector of St Bartholomew the Great)
The present establishment is the latest in a series of churches and chapels associated with the hospital over the past 800 years. Its earliest predecessor, known as the Chapel of the Holy Cross, was founded nearby in 1123 (at the same time as the priory, now the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great) before moving to the present site in 1184. Along with most other religious foundations the hospital was dissolved by Henry VIII. It was then re-founded by King Henry VIII, when the chapel became a Anglican parish church serving those living within its precincts. Its suffix, "the less", was given to distinguish it from its larger neighbour, St Bartholomew the Great (the former priory).
The church's tower and west façade date from 15th century, with two of its three bells dating from 1380 and 1420. They hang within an original medieval bell frame, believed to be the oldest in the City of London. In 1793 George Dance the younger, a Royal Academician, created a new octagonal interior within the shell of the medieval chapel, its clerestorey rising above the old walls. The new construction was made entirely of wood, and soon became affected by dry-rot. In 1823 it was replaced under the supervision of Thomas Hardwick, who replicated the timber construction in stone with an iron ceiling. He also made alterations to the detailing.
The church suffered some bomb damage during the London Blitz of World War II but this was repaired and the church reopened by 1951.
St Bartholomew the Less Church's interior although small is light and airy, largely due to George Dance's use of high lunette windows. Its form is that of an octagonal Gothic vault fitted into a square by the means of adding open triangular chapels at its corners.
The church was designated a Grade II* listed building on 4 January 1950, and enjoys an association with the Haberdashers' Company, its close neighbour in West Smithfield at Haberdashers' Hall, EC1.
Notable people associated with the church
- Thomas Bodley, founder of Bodleian Library: buried 1613
- Inigo Jones, architect: baptised 1573
- John Lyly, author and playwright: buried November, 1606
- Thomas Monro, Vicar and Hospitaller of St Bartholomew the Less, 1754–65
- Betjeman, John (1967) The City of London Churches Andover: Pitkin ISBN 0-85372-112-2
- Hibbert, C; Weinreb, D. & Keay, J. (1983) The London Encyclopaedia. London: Pan Macmillan, 1983 (rev 1993, 2008) ISBN 978-1-4050-4924-5
- Godwin, George; John Britton (1839). The Churches of London: A History and Description of the Ecclesiastical Edifices of the Metropolis. London: C. Tilt.
- Bradley, Simon & Pevsner, Nikolaus (1998) London: the City Churches. London: Penguin Books (reissued by Yale University Press, New Haven, 2002 ISBN 0-300-09655-0)
- Cobb, Gerald (1942) The Old Churches of London. London: Batsford
- English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (199825)". Images of England. accessed 24 January 2009