Researching Rahere

View of the entrance to the Church of St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield

A journey through London gave me the opportunity to visit the Church of St Bartholomew The Great in Smithfield, which is indeed very close to the Hospital Rahere founded, known today as St Barts.

Photograph of Rahere's tomb. An effigy lies on top, with two small figures with books in their hands and an angel at its feet.

It, and Rahere himself, have had varying fortunes and visibility over the years, and, for example, Rahere’s tomb was built in the fifteenth century, nearly four centuries after his death.

Weeper on Rahere's tomb, sketched in watersoluble pen

I haven’t yet discovered whose shields are displayed there, but it seems likely I will. The Rector was involved in a wedding rehearsal when I arrived, but I carried on quietly sketching and walking around the Church, staying out of the way as best I could while still continuing to work.

Sketch of Rahere's head and cushion. Watersoluble pen and crayon

And I had my reward in due course, when, on the principle that Bairns As Don’t Ask, Don’t Get, I tracked him down afterwards and asked what, if any, information they had on Rahere and the early days of his foundation.

I may have bewildered him slightly – I have the impression that’s not the first thing people usually say! – but he took it well, and informed me that as this year is the anniversary of the foundation, a substantial History has been produced. So when that arrives, I shall have more to say on the subject, I’m sure!


  1. Lin says:

    An interesting character – I look forward to seeing what you find out about him

  2. Karen says:

    That proves it’s always worth asking! It looks like a really interest topic to research.

  3. Sue Jones says:

    That sounds like an interesting subject of research and a fairly productive day. And there’s more left to find out, which is always good.

  4. Researching things and then making fabric art based on what you find must be your calling! I am looking forward to seeing where this latest adventure will lead you.

  5. Alex Hall says:

    I remember there being a Blue Peter article on Rahere back in the good old days of John Noakes et al. Looking forward to you expanding on my knowledge from that!

  6. Linda says:

    The saying is a bit different around here, its ‘shy bairns get nowt’

  7. Carolyn Foley says:

    How fortunate that there is a history that has been produced. That will make a great starting point for your research.