Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Visit to St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield on Tuesday 24 January

Eight IAS members and friends assembled in St Bartholomew the Great and those who had not visited this stunning Norman church before were astonished that such a large and superb example of Romanesque architecture could be found in London. The church was founded in 1123 as an Augustinian monastery and was duly dissolved by Henry VIII in the 1530s—however the east end, with its stunning runs of Norman arches survived as a parish church. The later medieval lady chapel also survived, plus part of the cloisters. The building survived the great fire of London because the old priory walls remaining to the south stopped the fire moving northwards.

The church is deeply atmospheric, but demanding to draw, with all its arches and perspectives, and changing light. However, when we looked at our work after lunch in the cloister café, we found that we had all done rather well with this difficult subject.

Another visit would be worthwhile, but we must remember to get to the café early, before supplies run out! A summer visit would enable people to sketch the arch of Smithfields, which is visible from the road outside the church, and a selection of interesting old pubs and houses.

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