St Bartholomew's Hospital was founded in 1123 and for nearly 900 years has provided care on the same site in Smithfield. The archives and museum collections include documents from the 12th to the 21st centuries, and objects reflecting the changes to patient care, teaching and administration at hospital. We also hold the archives of several other former hospitals in the City and east London, and many other related organisations and people.
Visit the museum to learn more about our nine centuries of healthcare, or make an appointment to research the records at the archives. The objects on display in the museums are only a small part of the collections - to find out more, search our catalogue online.
St Bartholomew's Hospital Museum
You can’t have a hospital that dates back to 1123 without a museum to tell its story, can you?
Situated a stone's throw from St Paul’s Cathedral, the Museum of London, Barbican and the historic Smithfield market, the museum shows how St Bartholomew's Hospital has been part of the fabric of London since the twelfth century.
The hospital's long history is brought to life through the permanent exhibition of original and facsimile archives, objects and works of art, including Rahere’s grant of 1137 - the oldest document in the hospital archives, and the 1546 agreement between Henry VIII and the City of London which refounded the hospital.
The museum is located in the hospital’s historic North Wing and overlooks the famous 18th century square designed by James Gibbs. You can get up close to the vast and spectacular paintings by William Hogarth. .
While you are here, you could also visit the Norman priory church founded by Rahere, now known as St Bartholomew the Great, which is only a few minute’s walk from the museum or the hospital church, Bartholomew the Less, on the hospital site. Both beautiful churches are open to visitors.
To find the museum, enter the hospital through the Henry VIII gate on Giltspur Street. The museum entrance is about 30 metres to your left under the North Wing archway.
Tel: 020 3465 5798
Our museums are free to enter, though a donation towards maintaining the collection is appreciated.
Open Tuesday to Friday, from 10am to 4.00pm (closed over Christmas, New Year, Easter and public holidays) – we occasionally have to alter our opening times, so please call 020 3465 5798 before you make a special visit.
Unfortunately due to volunteer absence, the museum will be closed on Wednesday 12 September 2018. It will be open again as usual on Thursday 13 September. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
The museum will be closed over the Christmas period from Saturday 22 December 2018 to Tuesday 1 January 2019 inclusive.
Wheelchair access, and texts of audio displays are available on request. There is an induction loop in the museum. For more details about our access provisions please download our Access Statement. For more details about our access provisions please download our Access statement [pdf] 323KB.
Groups of up to 25 people are welcome. We suggest larger groups of more than 25 split into smaller groups and stagger their visit. Space is limited, so please contact us in advance to discuss your requirements by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 3465 5798.
St Bartholomew’s Hospital has been providing care on the same site for nearly 900 years, and school groups will have the opportunity on their visit to find out about the changing face of the hospital through the centuries.
We can host school groups on request. Students will find out about the role of the museum and archives, and an activity sheet (roughly KS2/3 level) is available on request. Please contact us at email@example.com or 020 3465 5798 to discuss your requirements.
Groups may wish to combine their visit with a trip to The Charterhouse, another long-standing part of the history of Smithfield, which also has a small museum just a short walk from the hospital.
Volunteer at the museum
Our friendly and supportive team of volunteers make sure the museum runs smoothly. They greet visitors, sell publications and answer or pass on enquiries. Some get involved in our projects if appropriate.
We are currently looking for new volunteers. If you’d like to join our team you’d be helping us preserve the heritage of our historic hospitals while gaining new skills and experiences and meeting new people. Visit our volunteering pages to find out more and apply.
Our historic tours are conducted by members of the City of London Guide Lecturers Association on behalf of the museum. You’ll visit the church of St Bartholomew the Less; the hospital’s square, North Wing and Great Hall, which were all designed by James Gibbs; as well as Hogarth’s famous biblical paintings.
To join a tour, meet at the Henry VIII gate, on Fridays at 2pm, apart from during the Christmas holidays and Easter (Good Friday) bank holiday, when tours are suspended.
It may also be possible to arrange tours at other times for groups of 10 or more. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your requirements.
Cost: £7 per adult, £6 concessions. Accompanied children are free.
Publications for sale
The museum has a small shop selling a range of books, prints and postcards - read our full list of publications available at our museums. To order any of these items, please email email@example.com or call 020 3465 5798.
St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives
The archives cared for by Barts Health are amongst the largest and most important hospital collections in the UK, with nearly 2km of shelving!
St Bartholomew's Hospital Archives hold records dating back to 1137, including volumes documenting the impact of the plague and the Great Fire of London, as well as staff and patients and buildings throughout the hospital’s history. The archives also hold the records of other related hospitals, institutions, organisations and individuals. The vast majority of this material is available for research, though some more recent material may be restricted under the Data Protection Act.
We are continually adding new material to the catalogue, and undertaking conservation work to ensure that the archives can be accessed now and in the future.
During 2017 over eleven hundred items were added to the catalogue of the St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College archive. Highlights include rarely seen papers concerning the College’s acquisition of Charterhouse Square premises in the 1930s, bomb damage to the College buildings during the Blitz, and the ‘BLQ Project’ which led to the creation of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. The cataloguing project and conservation work which is still ongoing, is generously funded by The Medical College of St Bartholomew’s Hospital Trust.
We are very grateful to the Wellcome Trust for its support of our current cataloguing and conservation project 'A Study in Specialism: the records of St Mark's Hospital'. Find out more about the project and this fascinating collection on our project blog, and about the history of St Mark's.
Searching the archives
To find out more about our archives, view the online catalogue for the collections of St Bartholomew’s Hospital Archives and Museum. We can help and advise researchers, so please contact us with your enquiry.
Visiting the archives
The archives are open to researchers by appointment only, Monday to Thursday, 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. We are closed between Christmas and New Year, Easter and public holidays.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 3465 5798 to make an appointment.
The archives are located in the North Wing, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, London EC1A 7BE.
What we hold
The archives of St Bartholomew's Hospital, former District Hospitals and Special Health Authority Hospitals, and NHS hospital management committees, health districts, authorities and Trusts are held by virtue of the appointment of the Archives as a Place of Deposit for public records under Section 4(1) of the Public Records Act 1958.
As well as the archives of St Bartholomew's Hospital, we hold records of the following hospitals:
- The Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease
- The Eastern and the Homerton Hospital
- The German Hospital
- The Hackney Hospital
- The Invalid Asylum for Respectable Females
- The Metropolitan Hospital
- The Mothers' Hospital
- St Leonard's Hospital
- St Mark's Hospital
We also hold:
- The archives of City and Hackney Health District/Authority; Central (later East London) Group Hospital Management Committee; Hackney Group Hospital Management Committee,
- Works of art and historical materials relating to the above bodies
- The archives, works of art and historical materials of the Medical College of St Bartholomew’s Hospital
- The archives, works of art and historical materials of clubs and societies associated with the hospital and Medical College.
- The archives, works of art and historical materials of St Bartholomew's College of Nursing and Midwifery and associated bodies
- The parish records, church plate and historical artefacts of the Church of St Bartholomew the Less, and parish records of St Audoen alias St Ewin and St Nicholas Shambles.
- The archives, works of art and historical materials of St Mark's Hospital
- Personal papers and historical materials of private individuals and external organisations, including Sir William Lawrence, and Ethel Gordon Manson, James Paget