Dating to 1123 and adjoining one of London's oldest hospitals, St Bartholomew-the-Great is one of London's most ancient churches. The Norman arches and profound sense of history lend this holy space an ancient calm, while approaching from nearby Smithfield Market through the restored 13th-century half-timbered archway is like walking back in time. The church was originally part of an Augustinian priory, but became the parish church of Smithfield in 1539 when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.
William Hogarth was baptised here and the young American statesman Benjamin Franklin worked in what is now the Lady Chapel as an apprentice printer. The church has been used as a setting for many films and TV productions, including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love, Sherlock Holmes, and a very funny mobile-phone advertisement satirising the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. Look out for the astonishingly macabre Damien Hirst gilded statue of St Bartholomew with his flayed skin (2006).