The History of Barts

The Royal and Ancient Hospital of St Bartholomew

St. Bartholomew’s Hospital has led the provision of healthcare in London for almost 900 years. Founded in 1123 by the monk Rahere to give free medical care to the poor of the City of London, there is no other hospital in the country which can begin to match its record of  continuous  service on the same site. The Great Hall is the central jewel in the crown of its magnificent if yet unrecognised Heritage Site, consisting of the Gatehouse (1702) abutted by some fine Grade II listed Victorian Hardwick buildings, the Parish Church of St. Bartholomew’s the Less with its 12th century tower and the remaining three James Gibbs blocks forming the North , East  and West  Wings (1738 – 1769) that surround a grand Square with its elegant Fountain (1859).

We hope that this site and specifically this page, will become a repository for all that is Barts, past and present and will represent a primary web-based resource for all that are interested. We have tried to document as many as possible of the important dates and figures involved in The Hospital and Medical College that have been influential in shaping medical history. As any junior doctor worth their salt will tell you, behind any decent doctor stands an infinitely better nurse and so we certainly do not neglect the nursing school, not least since Barts nurses have played primary protagonists in the development of nursing as a profession in the UK and far beyond!

All the portraits and pictures used to illustrate this brief history of The Hospital are reproductions of originals that are held by The Hospital Archive in The North Wing.

We hope that you enjoy reading it and, should you feel that someone has been left out, let us know - we fear that with almost 900 years to cover, there may well be many who are not mentioned!

Larger versions of the images on this page can be seen by clicking on the pictures.

1123: Founded by Rahere

The Hospital was founded, with the Priory of St Bartholomew, in 1123 by Rahere, formerly a courtier of Henry I (1100-1135). There is no Foundation Charter, however The British Museum holds a medieval chronicle that describes in detail the early existence of The Hospital – The Book of the Foundation of St Bartholomew’s Church in London, published in 1180 in Latin and translated into English in the 14th Century to be published in 1400. It is a shame in some respects, that we are unable to provide documentary evidence of what may be the more enjoyable story, Shakespearean in its telling, that in actual fact Rahere was the court jester who subsequently took orders and became a monk. This story appealed so much to one member of our committee that it was a reason to learn more of The Hospital's history and ultimately apply there to become a medical student. Alas - this may, in fact be apocryphal. However, as a courtier, he is reputed to have been something of a social climber - and a good one. So much so that in 1115, his name appears on the list of Minor Canons of St Paul's Cathedral. That is all well and good but he was not necessarily a terribly 'good' man and the author of the chronicle held by The British Museum hints at as much but goes to great lengths to explain how he came to see the error of his ways. The apex of his developing insight was a pilgrimage to Rome. It is not clear what prompted this. However, he was close to the Royal Family and seems to have had their ear, in particular that of Henry's wife, Matilda, who was herself pious and charitable. The timing of his pilgrimage of Rome coincides with two major events in the Royal household: firstly the death of Matilda in 1118 and secondly The White Ship disaster in 1120, which claimed the life of Henry's only son, William Aethling. His proximity to the Royal Family might have meant that these two events had a sufficient emotional impact on Rahere to have caused him to turn to his God and strive to mend his ways.


Whilst in Rome, he became very unwell and feared that he may never see his own country again. He began to pray fervently. During his fervent prayer, he promised God that if healed, he would found a priory hospital for the sick and the poor on his return home. When well enough, he began the long journey back to England.  It was on this homeward bound trek that he had a vision of St Bartholomew and in this vision, The Saint told him that not only must he build this hospital but that he must also devote it to The Saint.

“I am Bartholomew, the apostle of Jesus Christ, that come to succor thee in thine anguish, to open to thee the secret mysteries of heaven – know me truly to have a chosen place in the suburbs of London at Smoothfield, where in my name thou shalt found a church and a hospital – wherefore do thou boldly – neither at the cost of the building doubt thee not – direct, build and end this work”

In return, he would receive saintly protection that would ensure his healthy and safe return home. Fabulous stuff! The more black and white and scientific side of it (we are getting further and further from the court jester here I fear!), is that he is likely to have learned of the relevance of St Bartholomew in healing whilst in Rome but this relevance was not, in fact his, at least not directly. St Bartholomew is an interesting figure (if you are after a different interpretation, I am afraid that you probably need to find another website!). He is also referred to as Nathanael in The Bible (The Gospel according to John) which holds him as being present at the resurrection. He was one of the 12 apostles and was introduced to Christ by one of their Brethren, Philip. Jesus' disciples are also mentioned in the Qur'an, although as 'Helpers to the work of God' rather than as disciples but Muslim exegesis names only a few and he is one in this number: Peter, Andrew, Matthew, Thomas, Philip, John, James, Simon and Bartholomew. His ending was grizzly: flayed alive. You may have seen him depicted in the Sistine Chapel, without realising it: here, like in many artistic portrayals, he looks rather as though he is carrying his overcoat over his arm. I'm afraid that in actual fact, that beige and rather dreary looking coat is his skin.

His Miracles are in comparison, rather dull. He is traditionally associated with miracles that involve weights and measures. Medical students to this day have a named member of any (non-Medical-College-sanctioned) drinking game in the Students' Union assigned to be 'weights and measures', responsible for the assessment of whether or not forfeits are appropriately consumed. Sadly, it is doubtful that the significance is recognised. The most recent of his miracles was during the second world war. The fascist German/Italian regime were desperately in search of funding for their war effort at the time. Instruction was given that the silver statue of St Bartholomew at The Cathedral on the island of Lipari should be melted down to fill the coffers. It was weighed but found to be only a few grams and so gained its reprieve and was returned to The Cathedral. In fact, it weighed many kilos and it is considered a miracle that it survived. There are other miracles more contemporaneous to his canonisation that attract greater consternation.

St Bart by Vicente Carducho 1576-1638

But back to our man, Rahere. 

On Tiber Island in Rome, a temple was dedicated to Asculepius, the healer of men. With time this was added to and built over and in 993 AD Holy Roman Emperor Otto III had a new basilica built, which was ultimately dedicated to St Bartholomew as his relics had been brought there from the island of Lipari. The new Basilica di San Bartolomeo inherited the old ‘medical centre’ associated with the Temple of Aseculepius and so Bartholomew’s association with healing and hospitals began. His relics are still there in a tomb that is used as the altar.

It is likely that Rahere had heard of this Church and that in his greatest moments of health (and death) anxiety, he visited it and the relics therein.

He kept his vow and, on his return gained permission from The King to build in Smithfield (called Smoothfield at the time) and in March of 1123, the site upon which The Hospital stands today was dedicated by the then Bishop of London, Richard Blemeis.

The building was not without its opposition. This may, in part, have come from the Austin or Augustine Canons, a newly formed monastic order, who would have become responsible for the care of the sick. Rahere was the first Prior of the Priory of Austin Canons in Smithfield. Smithfield itself was a busy market place and the merchants had influence that they may have used in the face of having to trade near a building dedicated to housing the sick, particularly given the threat of plague it might represent in a place devoted to public gatherings and market trading. However, Smithfield was not unaccustomed to death and butchery - of humans and animals alike. It was the preferred place of state-instructed execution (including of William Wallace in 1305, whose commemorative plaque today adorns the outer North wall of The Hospital) and jousting tournaments and remains the site of the primary meat market in London. Rahere died whilst opposition continued to exist in 1143 and was buried in a tomb in The Priory Church of St Bartholomew, which he had built.

His memory is still honoured by both The Hospital and the Medical College today, during a procession that marks 'View Day' and which is completed by the laying of a rose at the foot of Rahere's tomb, traditionally by a member of nursing staff or a student from the School of Nursing.

1133: A Royal Charter

King Henry I granted the first Royal Charter to The Hospital, stating that Rahere, the Prior, the Canons and the poor of The Hospital fell under the King’s protection

1180: Publication of The Book of The Foundation of St Bartholomew’s Church in London

The Book of Foundation was written by an unkown Austin Canon in latin and published in 1180.

For the most part, the 12th and 13th Centuries are an unrecorded period of The Hospital’s history. It is known that it operated as a hospice that provided care to the sick and impoverished and children, including those of prisoners at Newgate prison whilst their parents served their time there. The Priory Canons are also known to have actively sought out the homeless in the city and offer them refuge, respite and care, although little of it at the time would be considered medical therapy by today’s standards, as little existed.

1380-1395: John Mirfield

Mirfield was the first to be appointed ‘surgeon’ to The Hospital. During this time he wrote two books: Brevarium Bartholomei and Florarium Bartholomei. The former is a compendium of medical ruminations that reflect the still widely held philosophies of Galen that were not superseded until the end of the 15th Century when a ‘modern’ camp developed around the Swiss Renaissance physician and occultist, Paracelsus. The latter publication is more ecclesiastical but does contain one medical chapter.

1381: Revolting Peasants

King Richard II’s poll tax was becoming increasingly unpopular amongst the poor. In a fashion not dissimilar to its name sake instituted under Margaret Thatcher’s government, it polarized the poor not just in terms of money and dues to the state but in terms of an understanding of freedom and individuality within society. The Revolt's best known leader was Watt Tyler but it was also led by a priest, John Ball, who believed that all men and women were equal within society as we are all descendants of Adam and Eve. Watt Tyler was the more infamous, as was his death. After assembling a group of supporters in Canterbury, they marched on London, destroying civil buildings and freeing criminals from prison as they went. Negotiations with the King were arranged to take place outside The Hospital – a safe place for such a meeting as it was outside the walls of the City. During some unproductive back and forth and a bit of King-insulting by Tyler in ways only insulting in the 14th Century, he struck out at the well-armored Mayor of London, Lord Walworth, who subsequently cut the revolters throat. He tried to escape on horseback but fell and after being dragged along briefly, was unceremoniously decapitated. A Grizzly end to a man who may have had social conscience but not as grizzly as that of John Ball, who was hanged, drawn and quartered in the King’s presence at St Albans. The two were reunited, or at least their recently decollated heads were, atop London Bridge. On matching spikes.

1546: Refounded by Henry VIII

Over the years, The Hospital became increasingly valued by the city and developed an endowment that reflected this as a consequence of its work within the community, growing into an institution of great importance to society as well as to developing medical practice.

Henry VIII

However, problems began in 1534, with the passing of The Act of Supremacy naming Henry VIII as the supreme leader of the Church of England, severing the country’s papal ties. The Treasons Act followed shortly afterwards, decreeing it a treasonous endeavor not to acknowledge the King in his new supreme role. In order to demonstrate devotion to the Crown, an Acknowledgement of Royal Supremacy was signed by The Master of The Hospital, John Brereton and three Brethren, Thomas Hyclyng, John Chewny and Richard Lemyng in 1534. This is currently held in the Public Record Office and bears the 16th Century seal of The Hospital. The Charterhouse Abbey, our neighbour, one wall of which now forms part of the quadrangle of the Medical College in Charterhouse Square, was not so relenting. Founded as a Carthusian Monastery in 1371 by Sir Walter De Mauny, senior advisor to Edward III, the Monks residing here refused to submit to The Act of Supremacy and met their end at Tyburn.

In spite of the signed acknowledgement, Barts was not yet safe. 1536 saw the passing of The Dissolution of the Lesser monasteries Act, which allowed for the suppression of all monastic houses with an annual value of less than £200 and in 1539 The Second Act of Dissolution followed, dictating that all monastic possessions must pass to the Crown. The Priory of St Bartholomew met its fate in the same year but The Hospital remained and continued to serve the poor of London, albeit in a time a great uncertainty.

It is a testament to how valued and important The Hospital was to the City at the time that a petition was delivered to the King by the City in 1538. This petition explained how St Bartholomew’s (and other hospitals in London) had suffered as a consequence of the suppression of the monasteries and how Barts was needed to help “the miserable people lying in the streete, offending every clene person passing by the way with theyre fylthye and nastye savors”. The petition also asked for the Churches and their lands to be reopened for use by the public, who were now overcrowding the smaller parish churches – a hotbed for plague in the absence of a hospital to care for its sufferers. It took six years, but Henry relented, although in shallow terms in the first instance. In June of 1544, the King initially gave The Hospital its reprieve by way of appointing a new Master of The Hospital, William Turge, The King’s Chaplain, in addition to a Vice-Master, Thomas Hyclyng, who had signed the acknowledgement of the King’s Supremacy 10 years previously. He also installed a Curate, a Hospitallier and a Visitor of Newgate Prison. He allowed the houses and gardens to remain in the possession of The Hospital but beyond this, all other property remained forfeit to the Crown. His newly appointed administrators were tasked with visiting the sick, sheltering the poor of London, ministering to prisoners, providing food, drink and clothing to those in need and burying the dead. So not really a hospital! The King remained involved after the death of Turges in 1545 and appointed Thomas Byrkhed as his successor. Fortunately, neither of these Masters attended to their duties as instructed by the Crown and The Hospital continued as it had – otherwise it would have become a house for the poor alone and not somewhere to tend to the sick and dying.

Something changed and this may have been in no small part due to pressure exerted on the King by his surgeon, Thomas Vicary. Vicary is a vital figure in the history of medicine in England. Not only was he The King’s Surgeon, but he also maintained this appointment to Henry’s Tudor successors. He was the leading surgeon in London at the time and the first Master of The Company of Barber-Surgeons, the formation of which he was responsible for, appearing in Hans Holbein The Younger’s painting of Henry VIII handing over the Act of Union in 1540 that united the Guild of Barbers and the Guild of Surgeons. He went on to be a prominent figure in the history of Barts as well. In 1546, Henry seems to have returned to the initial petition delivered to him by The City in 1538, paying renewed interest to the sections on Hospitals. In May an inventory of The Hospital was made and the buildings in Smithfield came into the possession of the commissioners to  the King in December. Just after Christmas in the same year, the King finally signed a Royal Charter that granted the City the control of Bethlem Hospital and The Hospital formerly known as St Bartholomew’s, “hereafter to be called ‘The House of the Poore in West Smithfield in the suburbs of the City of London of Henry VIII’s Foundation’”. Although this long-winded moniker was seldom used by those using or associated with The Hospital, it remained on legal documents until the formation of the NHS in 1948, when once again it became ‘St Bartholomew’s Hospital’.

Along with Bethlem, Bridewell and St Thomas’, St Bartholomew’s now became one of four Royal Hospitals administered by the City. Henry VIII's charter is one of many fascinating historical documents to be found in The Hospital Archives, located in the basement of The North Wing and ‘The Charter Window’, a stained glass window in The Great Hall, opposite a portrait of St Bartholomew, depicts Henry VIII handing this Charter to Thomas Vicary.

Henry’s Charter was later re-affirmed in January 1547 by Letters Patent that returned properties to the ownership of The Hospital (all with the exception of Ducket House in Middlesex) and endowing it with its own income.

As a consequence of The Charter, The Common Council of the City of London set up a board of Governors to administer The Hospital, made up of four alderman and eight commoners. It was custom at this juncture to make The Lord Mayor of London the President of The Hospital and this continued as a tradition until 1867, at which point this role fell to members of The Royal Family – today, the office is held by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester. Nevertheless, The Hospital’s links with the City of London are still pronounced and appreciated.

Not unlike election campaign promises made concerning the NHS today, the people expected immediate benefits to be evident once the City was responsible for the running of The Hospital. Little was evident in terms of an improvement in the conditions of the sick poor and accusations of mis-management and embezzlement became all the rage in Smithfield. So much was this the case that in 1552 a statement of accounts and duties was published in order to silence the ‘busie bodies…having al their zeale in their tongue only”. This report claimed the healing of 800 people had taken place at The Hospital since December 1546.

1546-1548: Thomas Vicary

Vicary’s importance to Barts continued as he became The Hospital’s first Superintendent in 1546 and its Resident Surgical Governor two years later, holding this post until his death in 1561.

Charter Window smallAt the time of his appointment, The Hospital was still medieval in its practices and he probably did little to alter this. He was not an original thinker, based on what he published but his 1577 book, A Profitable Treatise of The Anatomy of a Man’s Body gives a first-hand account of what constituted clinical medicine in a hospital like Barts at the time. In 1585 he published The Englishman’s Treasure with the True Anatomy of Man’s Body.

1569: Dr Roderigo Lopez

Another fascinating historical character. A native of Portugal, he fled his homeland during the Inquisition as he was a ‘Marrano’ – someone of Jewish faith who had been forced to convert to Christianity, only observing Judaism in secrecy. He settled in London in 1559 and became the first regular physician to be appointed to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, starting work in 1569. He developed a practice of patients that included the rich, famous and deeply influential, including Robert Dudley and Francis Walsingham. So great was his success that in 1586 he became Physician-in-Chief to Queen Elizabeth. Unfortunately he became embroiled in a catholic conspiracy, in spite of being outwardly protestant in his religious practice. Robert Devereux accused him of conspiring with Spanish spies to poison the Queen. This was an unfortunate accusation as he was known to be something of an expert in the area of poisons and had previously provided them to members of the Queen’s Court, including Walsingham. He was arrested and tried at The Guildhall in London. His trial is thought to have been the basis for that of Shylock, a character inspired by Lopez, in The Merchant of Venice, written by William Shakespeare between 1596-98. The Queen is reputed to have been uncertain of his guilt, and delayed signing the warrant for his death. He was hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn in 1594.

His memory at Barts was not forgotten and some enterprising medical students formed a wine-tasting society which, in irony, bore his name.

1575-1581: William Clowes

Clowes was appointed to the surgical staff in 1575, becoming a full surgeon in 1581. He was a military and naval surgeon, who later served as Fleet Surgeon under Sir Francis Drake’s Command during the Spanish Armada in 1588 and authored The Prooved Practice for all Young Chirugeans in 1591 whilst serving as the Queen’s Surgeon.

Whilst working at The Hospital he developed a new styptic powder to seal bleeding vessels in wounds. He published six books, most notably on tuberculosis and venereal disease. This is not surprising. Infectious disease was a major killer and in cities as overpopulated as London had become, this was an ever-present threat. With plentiful access to brothels, venereal disease was also common, with syphilis being especially prominent. Englishmen at the time referred to it as the French disease, due to a combination of war driven xenophobia, the fact that soldiers returning from the continent had frequently contracted it there and that the first recorded European outbreak was during a French invasion of Naples. Clowes documented its prevalence in London:

“It is wonderful how huge multitude there be of such as be infected with it, and the daily increase to the great danger of the common-wealth and the stayne of the whole nation…in The Hospital of St Bartholomew in London, there have been cured of this disease by me, and three others, with in this five yeares, to the number of one thousand and more…among every twentye diseased persons that are taking in, fifteen of them have the pocks.”

Given that 75% of his patients suffered from syphilis, it is hardly surprising that venereal disease was his chosen topic! He resigned in 1585 upon command by Robert Dudley, first Earl of Leicester, to accompany a naval expedition to the Netherlands.

1584: Timothy Bright

The Royal College of Physicians recognized the significance of Barts as a hospital, in particular for the unusual clinical cases that it tended to from which physicians could learn much through observation. We know this from a letter submitted in support of Henry Wooton, a candidate proposed to replace Lopez and then Clowes after his resignation. Wooton did not get the job. Given the ignominy with which Lopez had been executed, it is not surprising that influential members of Queen Elizabeth’s court were keen to see this increasingly prominent role filled with someone more closely vetted. Timothy Bright was a Cambridge graduate and undoubtedly an intelligent man, with interests that stretched beyond medicine (he was the inventor of short-hand). A protégée of Sir Francis Walsingham, who had saved Bright’s life by offering him refuge in Paris during the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (nothing to do with The Hospital!), and a friend of Sir Philip Sidney, Robert Dudley’s nephew, his influential references won the day and he was appointed to The Hospital in 1584. Whilst at Barts he pursued research into cryptography at the behest of Walsingham, whom he may have served as personal physician just as Lopez had done before him. He was ultimately sacked by the board of Governors for not fulfilling his duties in 1592. Before he left Barts, he wrote ‘A Treatise on Melancholie’ in 1586. This text is of great historical importance. It was the first psychiatric text in England, preceding Burton’s perhaps better known, drier and much longer volume, Anatomy of Melancholie, published in 1621. As Lopez before him, Bright is also intricately connected to William Shakespeare. In particular, it is his description of mental illness that lent itself to Hamlet, in parts almost word for word. He grew tired of medical practice and subsequently took holy orders, dying in 1615.

1609: William Harvey

Born in 1578, Harvey attended King’s Canterbury before going on to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Gonville Hall as it had been previously, received a Royal Charter in 1557, being refounded by John Caius, hence the name change. John Caius was a famous surgeon in his day and lived within the parish of St Bartholomew-the-Less, walking down the road to The Barber-Surgeons Hall on a weekly basis to deliver his lectures as the first Lecturer there in surgical anatomy.

Harvey 2

 Although Caius introduced some stringent exclusions for entry into the College (including being a Welshman!), he founded and developed it as a centre for excellence in the study of medicine. After this important first step, Harvey attended the University of Padua in 1599, where he studied under Fabricus ab Aquapendente, also known as Hieronymus Fabricius, the ‘Father of Embryology’. Fabricius’ teaching was much sought after as he had revolutionized the teaching of anatomy through the design of the first permanent theatre for public anatomical dissections. Whilst Harvey was studying here, Fabricius was working on De Venarum Ostiolis (‘On The Valves of The Veins'), although this was not published until 1603. This volume gives the first clear description of the semilunar valves of the veins. Harvey graduated as a Doctor of Medicine in 1602 and returned to England, receiving his medical degree from Cambridge in the same year before settling in London. He was appointed to the staff at St Bartholomew’s in 1607 and was appointed The Hospital’s Physician-in-Charge. In 1615 he was made a Lumleian Lecturer (after the post’s founder, Lord Lumley), a position lasting seven years and which involved travelling the country delivering lectures on general anatomy.

Harvey 3He continued to tend to his patients at Barts during this time. In 1616 he presented his first lecture on his theories on the circulation of the blood, delivering this lecture at Barts in 1619, in the face of much dissention. In 1618 he was appointed ‘Physician Extraordinary’ to James I. In 1628 he published his seminal work, De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animabilus, which described for the first time the circulation of the blood as a complete closed circuit with dual components. This 70 page book was important for more than this alone as it set out a basis for a new concept of physiology and demonstrated how scientific investigation in medicine should be done. Dissent continued and Harvey’s practice is reported to have waned as a consequence. The same cannot be said of his career, which continued from strength to strength.

He was appointed to Charles I as ‘Physician in Ordinary’. The King is reported to never have left home without him! For his part, this gave Harvey access to the carcasses of deer on Royal Hunts, which he used for cross-species studies of comparative anatomy.

HarveyDuring the Civil War, he remained in post, often at risk to himself. At one point his lodgings were raided by a mob that stole his possessions and scattered his papers. At the Battle of Edgehill, he is reputed to have protected the King’s children. He settled in Oxford when Charles made it his base of operations and new capital, only returning to London upon its surrender in 1645, the year in which he was made Warden of Merton College. He died from a haemorrhagic stroke in 1657 in his house in Roehampton.


 1611: The death of Lady Ann Bodley

Lady Ann is buried at St Bartholomew-the-Less, with a monument dedicated to her by her husband, the English diplomat and scholar, Thomas Bodley. Why the connection to Barts? Well, they lived just over the road but three degrees of separation is also at play here! In 1444, the library at Oxford University received 300 manuscripts and documents as a gift from Henry IV’s youngest son, Humphrey, then Duke of Gloucester. This generosity led to the building of a new library but the reformation followed in hot pursuit a century later and the library was looted and left standing almost empty and unused. When Elizabeth I came to the throne, Thomas Bodley’s parents returned the family to England, after a self-imposed exile to Germany during Mary’s reign on account of being protestants. Bodley studied at Oxford and was subsequently appointed a fellow of Merton College, lecturing in ancient Greek. He left to become a successful diplomat in Europe in what were, diplomatically speaking, rather difficult times but returned to Oxford in 1598 and offered to restore the library and collect new volumes with which to furnish it. So successful was this enterprise that in 1739 a new building was required for the overflow of the now well-known Bodleian Library and so The Radcliffe Camera was designed and built. If this connection does not ring any bells….read on, Friend, read on – all will become clear!

1616: John Woodall

The first surgeon to be appointed to the East India Company and author of the ‘Surgeon’s Mate’, published in 1617 and the standard text for ship’s surgeons at the time. He was and still is best known for his experimental work on scurvy, which culminated in the understanding that it could be prevented by the ingestion of lemon juice. He also revolutionized the method of limb amputation, making it less painful by advocating amputation through the dead tissue below the line that demarcated the upper limit of infection. He had his dissenters but the proof was in the pudding – his patients survived where others did not. All hail to the 17th Century clinical audit!

He was a colleague and friend of Harvey but 22 years older. Such was the considered inferiority of the status of Barber-Surgeon compared to Physician, it took Woodall longer to be appointed. Woodall continued to work on the staff of The Hospital until his death in 1643, aged 87 - a pretty good innings for the 17th Century. It must have been have all that lemon juice!

1653-82: John Micklethwaite

Micklethwaite was appointed physician to Barts in 1653. In 1681 he treated Charles II at Windsor. The King recovered and Micklethwaite received a knighthood and became Physician-in-Ordinary to the King. He was also appointed as a Gulstonian Lecturer (a medical lecture named for Theodore Goulston that began in 1639)

1653-70: Chistopher Terne

A Cambridge and Oxford graduate and one of the original Fellows of The Royal Society, he was appointed to The Hospital in 1653 and assisted Micklethwaite. He lectured at The Barber Surgeons Hall and Samuel Pepys attended one of these. His lectures are preserved in The British Museum.

1662: Student record

Students were recorded as being present at Barts for the first time in 1662 but no systematic method of instruction had yet been developed.

1665: The Plague and a woman called Blague

The Plague hit London in 1665. Obviously the doctors at Barts stuck by their patients. Well, no – unfortunately not, they ran for the hills! The Matron at Barts at the time (1643-1675) was Margaret Blague, who was also the widow of a Barber-Surgeon. Matron Blague was made of sterner stuff than the squeamish physicians and surgeons and she and her staff stayed behind, continuing to tend to the sick and make them soup.

1666: Fire of London

The Great Fire’s path was halted at Giltspur Street, where the entrance to the outpatients department now stands and is marked by a golden statue. The threat had however, been such that The Hospital archive packed up many of the more valuable possessions into trunks and transported them to Hornsey for safe storage. Fortunately, although the fire reached the very gates of Barts, The Hospital was undamaged. However, it suffered greatly as a consequence of lost revenue due to the loss of income-generating properties and due to large unpaid debts from treating the wounded soldiers returning from The Dutch Wars. So grave a financial situation developed that by the start of the 18th Century, Barts was almost bankrupt and five of the fifteen wards had to be closed. The Governors set themselves to task and, through the development of new buildings surrounding The Hospital to replace those lost in the fire, levied higher rents in an effort to settle their arrears.

1667: A new library

The Governors instructed the development of a library at The Hospital for use by Governors and students.

1682-1708: Edward Browne

Browne attended Terne’s lectures and ended up marrying his lecturer's daughter before returning as a physician to The Hospital. He was later elected President of The Royal College of Physicians in 1694 for 10 years.

1697-1707: Robert Pitt

Pitt played a role in the controversy that followed the introduction of a dispensary by The Royal College of Physicians in 1696. Specifically he wrote on the low cost of useful medications, the excessive expense of the useless ones and the dangers of relying on too much medication. His first book, The Craft and Frauds of Physick exposed, was published in 1702 and was dedicated to the Governors of The Hospital. He followed this up with The Antidote, or the Preservative of Life and Health and the Restorative of Physick to its Sincerity and Perfection in 1704 and in 1705 with The Frauds and Villainies of the Common Practice of Physic Demonstrated to be Curable by the College. His ideas were attacked by the physician Joseph Browne in his 1704 book, The Modern Practice of Physick Vindicated from the Groundless Imputations of Dr. Pitt. In Pitt’s defence, Browne had a good track record for choosing the wrong side, having been a major dissenter of Harvey’s circulatory research and being convicted twice of libelling Queen Anne’s administration.

1702: Gatehouse

So successful were the efforts of the Governors that new plans for the rebuilding of The Hospital emerged. This began with the construction of The Gatehouse by Edward Strong Junior, the son of Christopher Wren’s chief mason. It was completed in 1702 and as a magnificent entrance to The Hospital, which now has Grade I Ancient Monument status, it heralded what was to come – the redevelopment of Barts would not be a meagre affair!

1707-25: Henry Levett

A graduate of The Charterhouse School and Magdalen, Oxford, Levett settled in London where he was elected physician to Barts and subsequently Charterhouse, becoming an early pioneer of the connection between the two institutions. He is buried at the foot of the altar in the chapel at Charterhouse. After his death, his widow remarried to the headmaster of the school.

1714: The Death of John Radcliffe

John RadcliffeThe 17th and 18th Century Oxford graduated physician and politician, for whom many buildings at Oxford University are named including Gibbs' Camera, died and bequeathed £600 to Barts in his will. His portrait, right, hangs in The North Wing and documents this donation.

1722: Somewhere to dissect

The surgical trainees at The Hospital submit a request to the Governors for the building of a dissecting room for anatomical lectures.

1723: Governor James Gibbs

The Architect James Gibbs was appointed as a Governor in 1723. An man with a remarkable CV, perhaps most famous for designing St Martin-in-The-Fields (1722-26) and The Radcliffe Camera at Oxford University (1737-48) (remember Thomas Bodley?) but also The Fellows' Building of King's College Cambridge (1724-31) and St Mary Le Strand (1714-17).

1726: A pathological museum

The first record of the presence of a Pathology Museum was in 1726. The Governors provided a room as a 'Repository for Anatomical or Chirurgical Preparations'. However the scope of this original collection remained rather limited, until Abernethy and one of his assistants came on the scene and recognised the lack of teaching material available in The Museum. Abernethy donated his own private anatomical collection in 1828. By the time of James Paget, the collection was so significant that it took Paget nearly nine years to complete his catalogue of The Museum's inventory.

1726: John Freke

Although he was the first ophthalmic surgeon and appointed to be so at Barts by the Governors, he was responsible for a number of other discoveries. Most notably he designed a number of medical instruments including the modernization of obstetric forceps. He also wrote about rickets and was the first to note the importance of removing lymphatic tissue in the treatment of breast cancer.

Freke was a close friend of William Hogarth and was responsible for training Edward Nourse, who in turn trained Percivall Pott.

1729: Edward Nourse

Surgical teaching at the time was limited to anatomical instruction based on dissection and this took place at The Barber-Surgeon’s Hall and The Surgeon’s Hall in Old Bailey. Their proximity to The Hospital may explain in part why Barts surgeons were frequently the invited lecturers and how they came to play such a significant role in the history of surgical training in London. However, there is limited documentation of lecturing taking place at The Hospital itself. In 1729, a series of private lectures were advertised to be given by The Hospital Surgeon, Edward Nourse. Percivall Pott was in attendance and this seems to have been the start of a more structured medical education at The Hospital. There was as yet, however, no recognition of a medical school as such at Barts.

Nourse is also remembered in the history of The Hospital for having treated Pott after he broke his leg from a fall from his horse.

1730 - 1769: The Rebuilding of The Hospital

The Governors of The Hospital continued in their lavish plans for the future of The Hospital and appointed James Gibbs to develop new designs for The Hospital. He did this for free! So influential were the buildings that they have instructed the design of many surrounding buildings of importance that echo his design of The Hospital. The building of the new hospital was made possible by donations and the benefactors were rewarded by having their names adorn the walls of The Great Hall in perpetuity. At least this was true providing that you contributed before 1905, at which point there was no room left! It is for this reason that we cannot promise you wall space if you contribute to the restoration of The North Wing, however, you can choose to donate in name or anonymously at our Just Giving site!

1730: Construction of The North Wing begins

1732: Construction of The North Wing is completed

1734 - 1737: William Hogarth

The artist William Hogarth decorated the Grand Staircase with two magnificent paintings that depict the biblical stories of The Good Samaritan and Christ at the Pool of Bethesda and illustrate the spirit of The Hospital's work. Hogarth was a Smithfield local who was born a stone's throw from The Hospital, in Bartholomew Close, where many of the modern hospital and medical school buildings now stand. He was insensed to discover that an artist from the continent (The Venetian, Jacopo Amigoni) had been approached to provide artwork for The North Wing's staircase and offered to do so free of charge. The paintings are still used as an educational tool as the characters portrayed are thought to be patients from The Hospital, many of whose conditions are recognisable to the trained eye.

1736: Construction of The South Wing begins

1740: Construction of The South Wing is completed

1743: Construction of The West Wing begins

1744: Percivall Pott

Percivall PottPercivall Pott, the leading eighteenth century surgeon who gave his name to Pott’s fracture and several other conditions, was appointed assistant surgeon. He became a full surgeon in 1749 and remained at The Hospital for a further 38 years, retiring a year before his death. Pott was working at Barts at a pivotal time in the history of surgery in London, with the Company of Barber-Surgeons separating, resulting in the newly formed Company of Surgeons in 1745, of which he became Master in 1765. This institution became the Royal College of Surgeons 12 years after Pott’s death in 1800. In 1756, Pott was thrown from his horse, whilst in Southwark and was carried on his order by a makeshift stretcher to Barts, where he was treated by Edward Nourse. It required some argument to avoid amputation, a procedure that Pott abhorred even for his patients! Contrary to popular mythology, this was not a ‘Pott’s fracture’ (a type of ankle fracture) that he sustained but an altogether more serious open fracture of his femur. Nevertheless, it was during his recuperation that he began writing his Treatise on Ruptures, published later that year. His other publications included Some Few Remarks Upon Fractures and Dislocations and Remarks on that Kind of Palsy of the Lower Limbs, in which he described Pott’s disease of the spine. John Hunter, the Scottish surgeon who became George III’s surgeon and for whom the Hunterian Society is named, trained under Pott and his lectures at Barts were also attended by John Abernethy. An impressive career and legacy for a surgeon reported to have had a great dislike for operating!

1752: Construction of The West Wing is completed

1754: James Gibbs dies

Gibbs died 15 years before the completion of his designs for The Hospital on 5th August, 1754. He left £100 to The Hospital in his will.

1757: Construction of The East Wing begins

Building continues after the death of James Gibbs to his original designs

1769: Construction of The East Wing is completed

1780-93: David Pitcairn

ADavid Pitcairn Scot and the son of Major Pitcairn, who died at The Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston during The American Revolution, he graduated from Corpus Christi, Cambridge. He was a Gulstonian lecturer and Harveian orator and an elected Physician to Barts from 1780. He was the first to discover the relationship between rheumatic fever and valvular heart disease. He died in 1809 and was buried in the family vault in St Bartholomew-the-Less.

1783: William Pargeter

A physician specializing in ‘mad-doctoring’ received his training at Barts before working at the Bethlem Hospital. He later published Observations on Maniacal Disorders (1792), in which he blamed Methodism for mental illness.

1791: A Lecture Theatre

The Governors finally approved the construction of a lecture theatre in 1791.

1815: John Abernethy and the development of a curriculum

AbernethyAfter Pott resigned, he was replaced by Charles Blicke in 1787, whose assistant surgeon was John Abernethy. Abernethy took up the mantle of Edward Nourse in the delivery of regular lectures but unlike his predecessor, developed them into a more comprehensive course. So popular were these that the otherwise unrecognized student body began to swell. It was as a consequence of these lectures that he first delivered whilst Assistant Surgeon that a lecture theatre was built in 1791. He was elected as Principal Surgeon to The Hospital in 1815. He was renowned more for his abilities as a teacher than for his surgical skill, although he has a treatment for aneurysm named after him. He had a reputation for being a forceful and rather impolite character, not known for his acceptance of alternative opinion.

His manner was in many ways exactly that depicted in most modern day televisual representations of the ‘typical surgeon’ – arrogant and belligerent but endearingly humorous in his execution of offence! He authored Surgical Observations on the Constitutional Origin and Treatment of Local Diseases, published in 1809. This he referred to both affectionately and aggressively as ‘My Book’. So much was this the case that he earned the nickname ‘Dr My Book’. On one occasion, exasperated by a consultation with a patient who was proving long-winded in their description of complaints, he interjected “Enough, Sir! Have you heard of My Book?”, “Yes” was the reply, to which Abernethy retorted “Then go home, and read it!”. Whilst on a ward round, he poked a well-covered matron in the midriff with his cane: “If that is not a bottle of gin, ma’am, I will beg your pardon!”. There followed the sound of cracking glass and the smell of junipers as her uniform became soaked with gin. His manner may also have been the origin of a particular ‘doctor, doctor…’ joke: in consulting a woman who complained that it hurt when she held her arm above her head, his reply was simply “then what a fool you must be to hold it up!”.

It is fair to say that his arrogance did not endear him to all, most prominently the Crown and he lost his Royal Appointment to George IV after refusing to attend the King's bedside until after he had completed giving his lecture at Barts. Irrespective, all subsequent alumni are grateful for his teaching, however dogmatically it may have been delivered, as it was he that in 1822 persuaded The Hospital Governors to give formal recognition to the medical school, which had been gradually establishing itself during the late eighteenth century. He resigned from The Hospital in 1827, dying 4 years later.

1816: John Painter Vincent

John Painter VincentVincent was one of the last Members admitted by the Company of Surgeons in 1800. Two days after gaining his entry, The College Charter was granted and Vincent was again examined to become a member of The Royal College of Surgeons - essentially speaking exactly the same professional body! He became Surgeon at Barts in 1816, was President of The Royal College of Surgeons in 1832 and 1840 and left his post at Barts in 1847 to become a Governor. James Paget later remembered him "as a very practical surgeon, shrewd in diagnosis and always prudent and watchful, but apparently shy and reserved and not at all given to teaching even in the wards. He never taught in the school - never even, I think, gave a clinical lecture." 

1822: Approval for Medical Training

After many years of providing medical training to physicians and surgeons alike, the Governors finally approved the provision of medical education within The Hospital in 1822, thanks to the support of John Abernethy.

1824: William Lawrence 

William LawrenceLawrence was an apprentice to Abernethy and was made his Demonstrator when Abernethy became Lecturer on Anatomy in 1801. 12 years later, Lawrence was elected Assistant Surgeon to The Hospital but continued his training at The London Infirmary for Diseases of the Eye, returning to Barts a full Surgeon in 1824 where he remained for over 40 years, succeeding Abernethy as Lecturer on Surgery in 1829. His absence from Barts may have been maintained by the serious disagreement between him and Abernethy over his exposition of Hunter's Theory of Life. Specifically, in his lectures on The Natural History of Man (1819) he caused outrage by suggesting that the early chapters of Genesis were inconsistent with biological fact. Abernethy accused Lawrence of "perverting the honourable office entrusted to him by the College of Surgeons to the unworthy design of propagating opinions detrimental to society, and of loosening those restraints on which the welfare of mankind depend." He was often at the centre of controversy within the world of medicine but was at his strongest whilst lecturing. James Paget had attended his lectures and later criticised himself for not having held them in sufficient esteem as a student, later recognising Lawrence's style as the best 'manner of scientific speaking' when he came to deliver his own lectures. He served as President of The Royal College of Surgeons in 1834 and 1865 and became Serjeant-Surgeon to Queen Victoria in 1858. He remains best remembered for continuing the tradition of Abernethy in the development of the medical school and for his influence on Paget and Harrison Cripps.

1825: Demolition of the medieval church of St Bartholomew-the-less

The church that had presided over the patients of The Hospital from within its walls since the 12th Century was demolished and rebuilt, with only the original 12th Century tower remaining. This tower still stands and contains a peal of three bells that date to the 15th Century.

1834: Dead Criminals

In 1834, the still youthful Royal College of Surgeons purchased a house in Cock Lane, directly opposite The Hospital, and gained a license for the dissection of hanged criminals. The proximity to Barts ensured The Hospital's continued importance in the training of surgeons in London.

1845: A Medical College at last!

Although training for physicians and surgeons and been present since its foundation, it was not until the 17th Century that medical students were first recorded and only in 1822 was medical training formally recognised. It took a further 23 years for The Medical College of St Bartholomew’s Hospital to be formally established.

1847: James Paget

Born in 1814, it was as a naval career that first attracted the attention of James Paget. His father encouraged him in this and he set about studying maths, geometry and navigation. Fortunately for us, his mother burned the letter that his father wrote to a family friend, Captain Travers, requesting that he take young James under his wing as an apprentice seamen. Although distraught by his mother's actions at the time, he later remarked on his teenaged choice of career as a "very silly wish of mine" that had been guided by the attention he had seen paid to Naval Officers as a child. At the age of 16, he decided that a surgical career would better suit his temperament and he was apprenticed to Charles Costerton, a surgeon-apothecary in his home town of Great Yarmouth. He spent four years working in this role, from which he learned much f the day-to-day duties of a doctor at the time, including the invaluable experience of a cholera outbreak. During his spare time, he continued to pursue his love of nature, in particular botany and in 1834, he and his brother published The Natural History of the Great Yarmouth Area and its Neighbourhood. His enthusiasm as a naturalist later led to a friendship with Charles Darwin. The Paget brothers co-authored volume demonstrated James' meticulous nature and his ability to accurately and thoroughly catalogue large amounts of scientific information - a natural skill that would stand him in good stead for what was later to come: "The knowledge was useless; but that discipline of acquiring it was beyond price." Following his years as an apprentice in Great Yarmouth, he found his way to London and was entered as an apprentice at Barts in 1834. This was not an inexpensive enterprise and he relied upon his brother George to pay the necessary fees. He was a hard working student with perfectionist tendencies and rapidly discovered that the only texts that he felt were up to the task of educating him were written in German, Dutch, Italian and French. So he taught himself all of these languages! AlthoJames Paget copyugh he began to win prizes at the hospital left, right and centre (all four of those available in fact, in medicine, surgery, chemistry and botany), it was in his second year that he first made a name for himself. During a post mortem examination he noticed small particles that were attached to muscle fibres, something commonly seen and remarked upon at autopsy at the time. Borrowing a microscope from The Natural History Museum, he set about examining these further. What he discovered was that these were cysts caused by the larvae of Trichenella worms (Trichenella Spiralis). He further discovered that these entered the body as a consequence of eating pork that was unfresh or uncooked. This represented a significant discovery in the field of public health. Despite of his success as a student, he did not fare so well as a qualified practitioner. With few patients to his name, he filled his time with teaching students, which did not endear itself to him, and cataloguing the contents of the Pathology Museum at Barts, something he also later did for the museum at The Royal College of Surgeons. As a consequence of this, in 1837 he followed in the foosteps of Walter James Bayntin as Curator of The Pathology Museum. His income was meagre at this point in time and his request to be elected to the post of Assistant Demonstrator of Anatomy in order to further bolster his finances, was denied. He eked out a frugal existence, which ultimately led to a deterioration in his health, suffering recurrent bouts of pneumonia and on one occasion contracting typhus during the post mortem examination of a woman that had died from the illness. In 1843, his luck changed and he was appointed Lecturer in Physiology at The Hospital. A year later he was appointed the first Warden of the first residential Hall of the Hospital, later remarking on his horror at the behaviour of students! But it was not until 1847 that he was finally appointed as a surgeon at Barts. With this, his experience and skill again improved and in 1858, he was made Serjent-Surgeon in Extraordinary to Queen Victoria and Surgeon-in-Ordinary to Albert Edward, Prince of Wales in 1868. His health continued to be poor, however and after a serious episode of septicaemia, again contracted from a body during an autopsy, he resigned from the hospital in 1871. His private practice continued and he remain in service to The Queen. The latter ultimately earned him a baronetcy, a title that he always found a source of amusement. He died in 1899 and at his funeral, held at Westminster Abbey, he had a Guard of Honour, formed of medical students from Barts. During his career, he was President of The Royal College of Surgeons, President of The Pathological society of London, President of The Clinical Society of London and received an honorary degree from Cambridge University. He is now considered to be one of the founding fathers of scientific medical pathology and there are three (bone, breast and vulval) diseases, an abscess and a venous thrombosis that now bear his name.

1850: Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell, one of the pioneers of medicine as a career for women, was permitted to study at Barts by James Paget. After Blackwell’s departure female students were again opposed and excluded until 1947.

1859: The Fountain

The fountain at the centre of the square originally formed by the Gibbs blocks was a late addition to The Hospital. It has nevertheless become an icon for The Hospital and is frequently used to represent it and its alumni - including a dining club that was set up in 1919 and continues to run to this day (The Fountain Club).

1870: Henry Power 

Henry PowerIn October, 1844, Power entered St Bartholomew's Hospital as a student. After practising at The Westminster Ophthalmic Hospital, he returned to Barts in 1870 and was appointed to the newly made post of Ophthalmic Surgeon. He was an original member of the Ophthalmological Society of the United Kingdom and was made Vice-President of The Royal College of Surgeons in 1885. His influences were felt beyond the world of surgery and he was Professor of Physiology at the Royal Veterinary College from 1881-1904 as well as President of the Society for employing the blind as masseurs, Surgeon to the Linen and Woollen Drapers' Benevolent Fund and to the Artists' Benevolent Fund. He was a talented painter in water-colours and made many drawings of the interesting cases that he saw  in the Outpatient Department of the Westminster Ophthalmic Hospital. These were published in his Illustrations of Some of the Principal Diseases of the Eye in 1867. The book was one of the first English text-books containing coloured drawings of the fundus of the eye as seen with the ophthalmoscope. Today these are preserved at Barts.

1876: Thomas Lauder Brunton

Whilst still a student at Edinburgh, he won a gold medal for his thesis on digitalis in Thomas Lauder Brunton1866 and it was in the vein of pharmacology that he remained successful whilst working at Barts. Brunton was an early advocate of the use of amyl nitrite to treat angina and wrote widely on the subject of clinical pharmacology, delivering the Goulstonian Lecture in 1877 on Pharmacology and Therapeutics and the Croonian Lecture in 1889 on The Chemical Structure of Physiological Action.

1877: A School of Nursing

School of Nursing was founded in 1877 and the first ‘probationers’, or student nurses, entered St Bartholomew's for training in the same year.

1878: Schola Medicinae Sancti Bartholomei MDCCCLXXVIII

The Medical School Building with its latin inscription was completed in 1878.

1880: Henry Trentham Butlin

AHenry Butlin pioneer of HNs assistant surgeon, he was placed in charge of the Outpatient Department for Diseases of the Throat upon the resignation of Thomas Lauder Brunton. Although he never claimed to be a throat specialist, it was here that he made his name as a pioneer of head and neck surgery and along with Felix Semon and de Havilland Hall he was a principal founder of the Laryngological Society, which is now a section of the Royal Society of Medicine. In 1902 he was elected Consulting Surgeon and a Governor of The Hospital. He was placed on the Visiting Governors Committee in 1909. A ward at Barts is named in his memory.

1881-87: Nurse Number One

Having begun her training at the age of 21 in Nottingham and then Manchester, Ethel Gordon Manson’s expertise became sought after and she came to London, working at our now sister hospital, The London Hospital in Whitechapel and then in Richmond. In 1881 she was appointed to Matron at Barts, a post that she held until 1887 and then only relinquishing it in order to marry Dr Bedford Fenwick. An internet search of her husband’s name yields little as she trumps any entry that he might have! It is in her married name that she is perhaps better remembered as it was as Mrs Bedford Fenwick that her influence was truly felt. As a married woman, she remained not only active but prominent in the nursing world. She was one of the founders of the Florence Nightingale Foundation and became the President of the International Council of Nurses for the first five years after its inception. She extended the period of time necessary for training as a nurse and campaigned for their state registration. In short, she generated an understanding of nursing as a profession in its own right, akin to that of being a physician or surgeon. She achieved her ambition and in 1919, The Nurses Registration Act was passed. In 1923, registration began and on this register Mrs Bedford Fenwick was, and to many always will be, Nurse No.1.

1882: William Harrison Cripps 

Wiiliam Harrison CrippsHaving studied at Barts, he remained there as a graduate, initially as house surgeon and ultimately as elected Assistant Surgeon in 1882. He made his name in rectal surgery, publishing early in his career on the treatment of cancer of the rectum (1876) and was an advocate for the use of inguinal colostomy for both treatment and palliation. He was a keen teacher with a cynical manner, known for his quick wit. He did not abide by the Listerian techniques of the day, such as operating under the carbolic spray in common use at the time. However, he was the only surgeon at The Hospital at the time to make a complete change of clothing before surgery. He retired in 1909 at which point he became a Governor of The Hospital and served as Vice-President to the Royal College of Surgeons from 1918-19.

1887-1910:  Matron Stewart

Isla Stewart was Nightingale probationer at St Thomas' Hospital in South London but was priveledged in being appointed to follow in the footsteps of Mrs Bedford Fenwick. Another formidable woman, she had forthright views on the future of nursing and continued the work that her predecessor had started. She made it it compulsory for probationers to be trained in basic nursing practice for the first six months, rather than attend lectures on medical and surgical nursing. These new classes were given by Matron herself and involved an introduction to medicines and terms in general use, the principles of invalid cookery, the preparation of patients for operations, the administration of enemata, in addition to the basic skills of washing patients in bed and bedmaking. These changes were instituted in 1894 and remained in place for the next 12 years, during which she lobbied for additional changes to the curriculum, including lectures by the then lecturer in pathology (there was as yet no chair in pathology at Barts), Frederick William Andrewes, on the importance of aseptic techniques in surgery and surgical nursing.

In 1899 she was the co-author of the first textbook on nursing, Practical Nursing, the first chapter of which was entitled 'Nursing as a Profession'. In this chapter she described the importance of a minimum standard of eductation, a defined period of training and centralised examinations. She added to this with a further volume that described individual diseases and the practical nursing of these cases one by one. The Second Edition was in print by 1909 and although she was working on the third at the time of her death, she did not complete it. This instead fell to the assistant Matron at Barts, Miss Cutler and it was published in 1911.

Of Barts, she had said:

"There is something about St Bartholomew's Hospital, something - it may be in its age, its history or its associations - which creates towards it and, in its strength, a unique feeling among its members."

We would agree whole-heartedly! It was on the strength of this sentiment that in 1899, she formed The League of St Bartholomew's Nurses, of which she was president until 1908. The League, as it is affectionately known is still active today, and our own committe member, Alison Knapp, was its President between 2006-2013. Matron Stewart's reasons for developing The League were 'to encourage the members to maintain a high standard of work and conduct; for mutual help and pleasure and to promote the establishment of a fund for the relief of former nurses of The Hospital who are in distressed circumstances and need either temporary or permanent help.'

Stewart was also a founder member of the Royal British Nurses Association, founder and first president of the Matrons Council, President of the Society for the State Registration of Trained Nurses, a member of the nursing board to Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service and Principal Matron to the Territorial Force Nursing Service.

1887: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'A Study in Scarlet'

Sherlock Holmes, whilst using the laboratories at The Hospital is introduced to Dr Watson, an alumnus of the Medical College. This is of course fictional but important nonetheless! The most recent incarnation of Holmes on the BBC, saw Benedict Cumberbatch as the title role, throw himself from the roof of The Hospital.

1896: X-rays

X-rays were first used at St Bartholomew's. This method of investigative imaging is of course still widely used. However, in 1896, the acquisition of an image that today would take 21 milliseconds would have required a 90 minute examination and delivered 15,000 times the amount of radiation in 1896. As a consequence it was not without risk and the operators of these machines often experienced radiation burns.

1897-1927: Frederick William Andrewes

Frederick Andrewes initially graduated from Christ Church, Oxford,  before starting his clinical training at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1885. After a brief foray to The Royal Free Hospital he returned to Barts to study pathology and bacteriology under Klein and Kanthack, and in 1897 succeeded Kanthack as lecturer on pathology and pathologist at St. Bartholomew’s. Ultimately the post was granted a Chair in 1912 and as a professor he was an influential teacher. His legacy was original research on the classification of streptococci, the histology of lymphadenoma, and the problems of immunity. A ward at Barts is named in his memory.

1902-1912: Norman Moore

First Baronet of Hancox and an acquaintance of Charles Darwin, with whom he shared a fascination in natural history, Moore attended Barts to study comparative anatomy after being rusticated from St Catherine’s, Cambridge. He qualified in 1872 and obtained an MD for his thesis on the treatment of rickets in 1876. He was president of the Royal College of Physicians, Librarian to The Royal Society of Medicine and was appointed a Governor to Barts on his retirement. He was a prolific author, writing on natural history and translating medieval tomes such as The Book of Leinster. His greatest and most personal work however, was the substantial History of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, published in two volumes in 1918. The history of The Hospital was of great fascination to him and the subject of his Rede Lecture, delivered in 1914.

1903: Anthony Bowlby

Surgeon to Edward VII's household and subsequently Surgeon-in-Ordinary to George V,Anthony Bowlby he served in both the Boer and First World Wars. In the latter he was Adviser on Surgery in France for the British Area and the Front. He served three years as the President of The Royal College of Surgeons and delivered the Bradshaw Lecture on 'Wounds of War' in 1915. 

1904-24: Wilmot Parker Herringham

The first doctor to investigate the effects of the poison gas attacks of World War I. He was knighted in 1914 whilst still in service at Barts, becoming KCMG when he left The Hospital. He was Warden to the Medical College from 1916-19.

1912: William Girling Ball

HWilliam Girling Ball 1917ouse surgeon to Sir Anthony Bowlby, Girling-Ball subsequently specialized in urology. During the war he was  placed in command of the military wing of The Hospital, which formed part of No 1 London General Hospital. He was warden of the Medical College from 1913 to 1920 and Dean from 1925, where he was instrumental in its modernisation, overseeing its affiliation with the medical faculty of The University of London, the acquisition of the charterhouse square site and in ensuring that the Medical College was represented on The Hospital’s board of Governors. He was popular among students, to all of whom he felt devoted: "I would do anything for my boys, and my boys would do anything for me." He subsequently became Dean of the Medical Faculty of the Senate of The University of London and President of The Royal College of Surgeons.


1912-20: Archibald E Garrod          

Garrod pioneered the field of inborn errors of metabolism and discovered alkaptonuria and its inheritance. Combined with his study of cystinuria, pentosuria and albinism this collection of disorders is referred to as Garrod’s Tetrad.

He should not be confused with Lawrence Paul Garrod, the Barts Professor of Bacteriology for whom a lecture theatre at Barts is named.

1913-29: H Morley Fletcher

A Barts Physiologist and the first secretary of the MRC. He is memorialized by a bust and a lecture theatre in his name at The National Institute for Medical Research.

1914: The Great War

The East Wing was occupied by 5,400 sick and wounded soldiers during the First World War when a military wing was developed in The Hospital as part of No 1 London General Hospital.


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1920: James Patterson Ross 

James Patterson RossPatterson Ross graduated in 1920 with distinction in surgery and forensic medicine and was awarded the Gold Medal. At Barts he served as a demonstrator of physiology in 1920 and in pathology from 1921-22. Shortly after the completion of his professional exams, he travelled to Boston for neurosurgical training under Harvey Cushing. He returned in 1923 to join the newly established surgical professorial unit at Barts. Here he developed a special interest in surgery of the sympathetic nervous system. He delivered the Hunterian Lecture on The Treatment of Cerebral Tumours with Radium and separately on Sympathectomy as an Experiment in Human Physiology in 1933, returning to lecture again in 1939 on The Effects of Radium Upon Carcinoma of the Breast. He was made Professor at Barts in 1935 and today a lecture theatre stands in his name at Barts. His patients included King George VI and Winston Churchill before he was appointed Surgeon to Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.


1920: Thomas Peel Dunhill 

Sir Thomas Peel Dunhill THyroid pioneer c1950An Australian who initially qualified as a pharmacist in 1898, subsequently graduating from The Clinical School of the Melbourne Hospital in 1903. He performed his first thyroid lobectomy in 1907 and between 1908-1911 developed the essentials for the successful surgical treatment of thyrotoxicosis. With 230 case studies under his belt, he travelled to the USA and England, lecturing on his methods and findings. He left St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne in 1920 to work at Barts under Professor Gask whom he had impressed whilst serving in the First World War. In the UK he became known as one of the leading thyroid surgeons and in 1933 was appointed to The Royal Household.


1921-35: Thomas Horder

Thomas Horder 1Horder was renowned as an expert diagnostician of his time and based at Barts. His career was made in no small part by successfully making a tricky diagnosis in King Edward VII, which led to his patients subsequently including every British Monarch up to Elizabeth II, with the exception of Edward VIII. He was an advisor to the Ministry of Food during World War II and mounted opposition to many of the proposals that Aneurin Bevan made for the development of the NHS, which led to modifications being made to components that were unpalatable to the medical profession. He was knighted in 1918 and made a Baronet in 1923.


1923: Octocentenary

The 800th year celebrations of The Hospital’s foundation were substantial and reported in The Times, The Graphic and The British Journal of Nursing amongst other publications.

There was also substantial converage in The Barts Hospital Journal, which covered the history, formal proceedings and the festivities with some fabulous photographs. You can read a copy of this that was recently donated to The Friends (the original has been assed to The Archives) in two parts here: part 1 & part 2.

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1924-30: Walter Langdon-Brown

Often regarded as the founder of Clinical Endocrinology, Langdon-Brown demonstrated the relationship between the sympathetic nervous system and ductless glands. He was also the first English physican to relate works of Freud, Jung and Adler to clinical medicine, becoming an early pioneer of psychosomatic medicine.

1926: The General Strike

The General Strike lasted 10 days in May 1926 and was an unsuccessful effort to stop the government from lowering wages and worsening working conditions for coal miners. During the strike, medical students from Barts joined the Special Constabulary, which was not only arduous but dangerous work with one medical student being seriously injured. During the strike The Great Hall was used by these students as sleeping quarters.


1933: Charterhouse Square

The eastern face of The Charterhouse Abbey, formerly occupied by Charterhouse School before it moved to Godalming in Surrey in 1872 and subsequently by The Merchant Tailor’s School thereafter, became the site of the Medical College at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1933.

1934-37: The Replacement of The South Wing

The southern Gibbs block was demolished to make way for taller buildings containing more wards.

1937: Cancer radiotherapy

Barts became the first hospital in the country to offer mega-voltage radiotherapy for cancer patients in 1937.

1946: 400th year celebrations of The Hospital's refoundation

Celebrations took place in remembrance of Henry VIII refoundation of the hospital, with all the pomp and ceremony that he would have been proud of. You can read The Hospital Journal's coverage of this in three parts here: part 1, part 2 & part 3.

1947: Female students

For the first time since Paget’s days as Warden, female medical students were again admitted to the Medical College in 1947.

1948: NHS

St Bartholomew’s Hospital became part of the National Health Service (NHS) at the point of its inception. For the first time in over 400 years, The House of the Poore in West Smithfield in the suburbs of the City of London of Henry VIII’s Foundation is legally documented in the Saint’s name again.

1955-71: Ronald Bodley Scott

Trained by Langdon-Brown and Horder, Bodley Scott became famous for his work in leukaemia and lymphoma and there is now a unit named in his honour at Barts. He was appointed physician to the Household of George VI and subsequently Elizabeth II.

1961-1990: Our Chairman Follows in William Harvey’s footsteps

The illustrious Chairman of The Friends began his higher education in 1961 at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge before progressing to Barts in 1964 and graduating in 1967. In this respect, he followed William Harvey’s path and continued to do so thereafter as he too was appointed to The Royal Household, becoming Surgeon-Gynaecologist to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1990.

1973: 850 year celebrations

St Bartholomew’s Hospital celebrated its 850th anniversary. This included a Tudor Banquet in The Great Hall of The North Wing, at which Graham Chapman, a Python but a Barts Alumnus first, provided the entertainment.

1974:  City and Hackney Health District

St Bartholomew's became the teaching hospital for the newly-formed City and Hackney Health District, a group that included several other hospitals.

1992: Barts and The Royal London Hospital NHS Trust

The future of St Bartholomew's was called into question by the publication of Sir Bernard Tomlinson’s Report of the Inquiry into the London Health Service. The greatly disputed and controversial report did not see St Bartholomew's as a viable hospital and recommended its closure. The Government’s response to this report was published in 1993 and laid out three possible options for Barts: closure, retention as a small specialist hospital, or merger with The Royal London Hospital and The London Chest Hospital. The threat to St Bartholomew's sparked an intense public debate and a campaign in which over one million people signed a petition to save The Hospital on its Smithfield site. The Health Secretary was called to The Commons to explain plans for The Hospital’s closure. After public consultation in 1994, The Royal Hospital NHS Trust was formed, amalgamating The Royal London (it had become ‘Royal on its 250th anniversary in 1990), St Bartholomew’s and The London Chest hospitals. In addition, Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children later joined the Trust. The Medical Colleges of St Bartholomew’s Hospital and The Royal London Hospital merged with Queen Mary and Westfield College. In 1998, The Government announced that St Bartholomew's was to remain open on its Smithfield site as a specialist cancer and cardiac hospital, recognition of its continuing innovation in these fields, whilst general hospital services would be concentrated at the Royal London in Whitechapel.

1991: Day surgery

The Barts Day Surgery Unit opened in 1991 – the first of its kind in Europe.

1993: John Abernethy Theatre

The John Abernethy Theatre Suite opened at St Bartholomew's – the most technically advanced outside the US.

1993-95: Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry

The Medical College of St Bartholomew's Hospital merges with The Royal London Hospital Medical College (Formerly The London Hospital Medical College) and Queen Mary and Westfield College (now Queen Mary University of London).

1999: Trust renamed

The Trust was renamed Barts and The London NHS Trust

2004: Breast Care Centre

The dedicated Breast Care Centre opened in the refurbished West Wing at Barts, which also houses a Macmillan Cancer Support Centre.

2007: New hospital

Construction of new buildings at St Bartholomew's Hospital started in 2007, with careful consideration to the original Gibbs' design to ensure that its beauty was not polluted by out of place buldings.

2008: Cancer Medicine Centre

The Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre opened at St Bartholomew's to fast-track new treatment for cancer patients.

2010: Cancer Centre

The state-of-the-art Cancer Centre at Barts opened in 2010, complementing the existing Breast Care Centre. It included formidable array of state-of-the-art imaging, radiotherapy and radiosurgery technology, ranging from the UK’s first 64-slice time-of-flight PET-CT scanner to the latest generation gamma knife.

2012: Barts Health

St Bartholomew's becomes part of Barts Health NHS Trust.


Larger versions of the images on this page can be seen by clicking on the images or alternatively in The Gallery of Images and Artwork and Portraits.




The Archives

Barts possesses one of the finest collections of hospital records in Britain. The oldest record of The Hospital dates from 1137 and this treasure trove of historical artefacts also includes Henry VIII's Charter. In addition, records of other related hospitals, institutions, organisations and individuals are also held here. The vast majority of this material is available for research and a full list of the Archives contents can be found here and here, whilst a record of the works of art are listed and some can be viewed here.

Over the nearly 900 years of its existence, The Hospital archive has accumulated a large store of manuscripts, deeds, charters and records of great historical importance. Researchers visiting the archives have benefitted greatly from the many primary source documents that are held here, which have contributed to many books and theses.

We cannot document all the holdings on this site but have listed a few of interest.

1137: Rahere’s Grant to Hagno

This is the earliest document held, from the ‘Second year moreover of King Stephen in England’. This is the deed that documents how Rahere and the Convent of The Church of St Bartholomew granted The Church of St Sepulchre to Hagno the Clerk in return for 50 shillings per year for the use of the Canons and the poor within The Hospital. The deed still bears the 12th Century seals of both the convent and The Hospital.

1423: Deed bearing The Hospital Arms

The Master of The Hospital, John Wakeryng signed an agreement with the Prioress of St Helen’s for a drain and waterfall in Mugwell Street within the parish of St Olave’s. The deed is of interest as it is the first time that what is now recognized as the Arms of The Hospital appear on a document. The shield is ‘party per pale argent and sable a chevron interchanged’, surmounted by a crucifix with a tree at each side and an Agnus Dei at the apex. The border is inscribed “Sigillum magistri hospitalis sancti Bartholomei Smythfield ad causas”. The seal, born on Wakeryng’s signet ring subsequently passed into the common use of The Hospital.

1456: Cok’s Cartularies

When the City took over the running of The Hospital upon its refoundation in December  1546, the board of Governors that was formed in order to oversee the running of The Hospital sadly must have disposed of any archives that already existed at the site as little remains now. The exceptions are the original medieval property deeds and two legers. The deeds were vital in proving The Hospital’s right to endowments and there are around 2000 of these still in the archive. The two ledgers are called the Cartulary and The Little Cartulary and both date to the 15th Century.

The Cartulary, compiled by Brother John Cok between 1456-68 and sometimes referred to as Cok’s Cartulary,  contains copies of the deeds of property mentioned above and also some others that have long since been lost.  In his Cartulary he recalls having witnessed the coronation of Henry V at Westminster in 1413. Cok was the Renter at The Hospital when he compiled the book and inside it are two illuminated capitals that bear his portrait, as an elderly man in a red robe and a black cap. In the margins of the book he has decorated his work with various pictures of dragons, hares and dogs.

The Little Cartulary is also in Cok’s handwriting and documents additional properties owned by The Hospital, as well as the tenants in these buildings at different times and the rent that was due to The Hospital for their tenancy.

1522: Hospital Rules and 1549 Journals

A copy of The Hospital Rules, printed in 1552 has also been archived. This sets out the duties of the Governors but also the individual posts that they were instructed to maintain in paid employment. This included a Renter-Clerk, a Steward and Porter, Beadles (lay-church officials) and a Cook. We know many of the details of the Governors' roles as they have been carefully documented here: the Governors were required to meet regularly and the Renter-Clerk was responsible for not only the taking of minutes but also indexing them appropriately and binding for them for storage. The Archive holds over 35 bound journals of these carefully drawn up minutes, covering every year from 1549 onwards, although there are six years missing from 1561 onwards. We can learn much from these of the running and nature of The Hospital. For example, entries from July of 1554 tell us that Robert Prittlewell had finally managed to settle his rent arrears to The Hospital over 11 years but in addition to this had also given ‘one load of cheese for the poor’. Meanwhile a carpenter, Stephen Garlop, who had been appointed as surgeon at The Hospital was reassuringly dismissed ‘for that he hath no knolege in surgery’. The Governors also determined at this meeting that patients not obeying the instructions of the surgeon, must be turned away from The Hospital. These volumes also tell us much about what lengths the Governors went to in order to improve the conditions for patients and staff at The Hospital.  By the 18th Century, the ledgers become more concerned with income and outgoings, which is hardly surprising given the financial state of The Hospital at this time, the settlement of extensive arrears that The Hospital needed to make and ultimately the rebuilding of The Hospital. We do discover, however, that continued improvements were required as time went on and as the understanding of what was necessary in a hospital changed. In 1829, The Hospital surveyor, Philip Hardwick, the second of three successive members of the Hardwick family to be appointed as Surveyor to The Hospital, presented proposals to install modern sanitization at Barts. He also proposed that The Hospital bought the neighboring Christ’s Hospital. After the dissolution of the monasteries, these buildings had been refounded for the education of the poor in 1552 and received a Royal Charter from Edward VI the following year. The building was to be left vacant when the ‘Blue Coat School’ was to move to Horsham in 1897. We know that the Governors agreed to the sanitation proposals but the next board of Governors did not buy Christ’s Hospital and most of this plot became owned by The General Post Office.

As time passed, more committees were formed at The Hospital, especially during the 19th and early 20th Century and minutes of their meetings are also stored in the Archive. Where these meetings and those of the board of Governors is brief, holes in our understanding are filled by letters sent out by the Clerk to the Governors, which have also been bound and preserved.

1544-47: Charters

Three documents relating to the reopening of The Hospital shortly before the death of Henry VIII are in the possession of the Archive . These include the intial Charter that reconstituted The Hospital, The Deed of Covenant by which The Hospital along with its former contents and possessions are granted to the Mayor and the common folk of the City by the King and finally the grant of letters patent from January 1547 that further established the possessions and buildings of The Hospital. It is on The 1546 Deed of Covenant that the present constitution of The Hospital was founded. 

1544-47: The Repertory

Drawn up by the Renter of The Hospital, these documents catalogue the foundation of The Hospital, its possessions and also include maps and plans of The Hospital properties.

1546: The Inventory of The King's Commissioners

The inventory that was drawn up by The King’s Commissioners before its refoundation is also preserved.

1762: The Death Books

The Steward of The Hospital had always been responsible for the purchasing of food for The Hospital since his role came into existence in the 16th Century and this continued during the 18th Century. The Archive holds documentation of some of these transactions but sadly few have survived. The other role of the Steward was to keep account of admissions, discharges and deaths at The Hospital. That these became known as the ‘Death Books’ gives an unsettling view of the expected outcome of an admission to hospital at the time! We have copies of these dating to 1762, although we know that the records were kept prior to 1653 when the role of the Steward in maintaining them is reiterated. Sadly, sequential years from 1762 are no longer in existence, only 1762-69 and 1807-16, but a complete set dating from 1826 to the present day has been preserved. Through these volumes it is possible to track the changes in the causes of death and the age at which people died as medicine advanced over the years. It is particularly notable that many of the causes of death listed would not be considered fatal today and that the age of death is typically very young, with many being under 20 .

Clinical records have also been stored but none prior to 1826 have survived and the earliest of these tend to focus on ‘interesting  cases’ rather than providing a complete survey of treated inpatients at the time. It was not until 1848, when The Medical Council advised that full clinical records should be stored ‘in the interest of the advance of medicine’ that keeping complete records for all patients became common practice. From 1880 onwards, these records have been preserved and are filed under each individual consultant at The Hospital – 55 volumes with an index to patients’ names and their diagnosis. After 1920 it became mandatory to store all clinical records in the Medical Records Department.

Other Hospitals

The Archive also holds documents pertaining to the other hospitals that have been associated with Barts over the years, many of which have long since been closed, including The Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease, The Eastern Hospital, The Homerton Hospital, The German Hospital, The Hackney Hospital, The Metropolitan Hospital, The Mothers' Hospital, St Leonard's Hospital and St Mark's Hospital. Also preserved are the parish records, church plate and historical artifacts of the Church of St Bartholomew-the-Less, held on deposit from the church and parish. Other parish records include those of St Audoen alias St Ewin and St Nicholas Shambles.

No other hospital in England has such a well-furnished archive such as that it requires the care and expertise of a full-time archivist. Its contents continue to expand with more contemporary documents and medical artifacts and we hope that its future will see the addition of documents and medical volumes relevant to Barts but currently held elsewhere. The Archive department remains an active and vital part of The Hospital's history but also its current life and the number of visitors recorded year upon year – students, sociologists, historians, genealogists and many others – is a continuing testament to its vitality and value.

Visiting the archives

The archives are open to researchers by appointment only, Monday to Friday, 9.30am-5pm (closed over Christmas and New Year, Easter and public holidays). Please telephone 020 346 55798 to make an appointment. Admission is free. (Please note, no appointment is necessary to visit the Museum.) The archivists are happy to help or advise researchers, and may also undertake research on their behalf. This research service is undertaken at the discretion of the archivists.

Contact The Friends

Write to us at:

Friends of the Great Hall & Archive
of St Bartholomew's Hospital
Ground Floor
12 Cock Lane

The Barts Charity

We are working with Barts Charity, Registered Charity No 212563 barts_charity