The Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great, often known as Great St Bart’s, is a medieval church in the Diocese of London of the Church of England, located in Smithfield in the City of London. The structure was built in 1123 as an Augustinian priory. It is adjacent to the same foundation St Bartholomew’s Hospital. St Bartholomew the Great is so named to distinguish it from its neighboring smaller church, St Bartholomew the Less, which was established during the same time inside the precincts of St Bartholomew’s Hospital to perform as the hospital’s parish church and occasional site of worship. In 2012, the two parish churches were merged into a single benefice.
Rahere, a prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral and an Augustinian canon regular, founded the church in 1123. While in Italy, he had a dream in which a winged beast brought him to a high height and then transmitted a message from “the High Trinity and. the court of Heaven” instructing him to build a church in the London suburb of Smithfield. There traveled to London and was advised that the location in his vision—then a tiny cemetery—was royal property and could not be developed. However, after Rahere presented his divine message, Henry I handed him the title to the land.
There began construction on the edifice using servants and child laborers who obtained stones from all over London. The priory had a reputation for therapeutic qualities, with many sick people crowding its aisles, particularly on August 24 (St Bartholomew’s Day). Many miracles were reported to occur within and outside the walls of the building, including “a light sent from heaven” from its initial foundation, as well as miraculous healings; many significant infirmities were claimed to be cured following a visit.  Many of these cures were performed at the church hospital, which is still in operation today, St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
In the early 1720s, Benjamin Franklin was employed as a typesetter in a printer’s shop inside of what is now the Church of St. Bartholomew-the-Great, at the advice of Pennsylvania Governor Sir William Keith, 4th Baronet looking eastward towards the sanctuary and Lady chapel from the south aisle Benjamin Franklin spent a year working as a journeyman printer in the Lady chapel at the east end, which had previously been utilized for business reasons. Additionally, the north transept was once used as a blacksmith’s forge.
The primary portion of the churchyard that has survived is a raised garden that Fanny Wilkinson, a landscape gardener for the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association, set out in 1885.
A repair project that included the construction of a new north transept and the renovation of the Lady Chapel and south transept started in 1889. In the presence of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, Alexandra of Denmark (the Princess of Wales), Edward White Benson (the Archbishop of Canterbury), and other dignitaries, the restored south transept was inaugurated by Frederick Temple, the Bishop of London, on March 14, 1891. The south transept was inaugurated again in February 1893.
The 11th Duke of Devonshire and the Hon Deborah Mitford were wedded in 1941 at The Priory Church, one of only a few City churches to escape damage during the Blitz.
View to the north from Cloth Fair
Sir John Betjeman, a poet, and preservationist, had a residence on Cloth Fair directly across from the churchyard. In Betjeman’s opinion, the church has London’s best-preserved Norman interior. On the 700th anniversary of the Scottish hero’s execution, a memorial service for Sir William Wallace was conducted in 2005. It was organized by historian David R. Ross.
On Good Friday, charitable donations are still being given out in the churchyard. A centuries-old custom started when twenty-one sixpences were inscribed on a woman’s gravestone with the stipulation that the bequest would support an ongoing annual distribution to twenty-one widows, with freshly baked hot cross buns now being distributed to others as well.
On January 4, 1950, the church was made a Grade I designated structure.  It was the first parish church in the Anglican tradition to start charging visitors who weren’t attending services an entrance fee in April 2007.
The parishes of both churches were disintegrated and replaced with the united benefice of Great St. Bartholomew on June 1, 2015, following a period of time during which the rector of the church served as the priest-in-charge of the nearby St. Bartholomew the Less, which also retained its own Parochial church council (PCC) and churchwardens. The previous parish of St. Bartholomew the Great’s rector was appointed to lead the combined benefice. Both of the former parishes are precisely included in the new parish’s boundaries. The PCC has been consolidated, and the churchwardens are now in charge of both structures.