Bart's View Day

Wednesday 8th May 2019

The annual View Day at St Bartholomew's Hospital was first held in 1551 and never cancelled. It is an opportunity for Barts Charity, Barts Health NHS Trust and its supporters to join together and reflect on the amazing history of the St Barthololmew's Hospital, the hospitals of Barts Health NHS Trust and Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University London. The View Day aims to highlight the achievements of the past year, the extraordinary work that takes place and to herald future plans.

The event begins with a service at The Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great which, like the Hospital, was founded in 1123 by Rahere, a member of the Court of Henry I. The Church is an architectural wonder and a great survivor over its 900 year history, avoiding the Great Fire, the bombing of London in WW2 and much more. The Service that we enjoyed was Anglican but very much High Church in nature with heavy use of Latin in the prayers and choral pieces and great volumes of incense, creating an atmosphere redolent of its antiquity and Roman Catholic heritage. For me, there was a special connection to this Service as one of the Trustees of the Barts Charity is close friend from my climbing pursuits and he read one of the Lessons.

Like all good things, the Service came to its end and, following the clergy, the Sheriffs of the City of London and the Masters of the Assembled Livery Companies processed to the Great Hall to hear the account of the Chairman of the Trustees and a speech by the Aldermanic Sheriff, Vincent Keaveny. Built in the 18th Century, The Great Hall originally housed the financial and management functions of the hospital. The costs of running the hospital were not borne from taxes, insurance or private investment, but by voluntary donations from benefactors. The Governors used the hall to hold its meetings and to welcome and entertain the great and the good of the City to attract them to become donors, whose names and the sums of their donation were inscribed on its walls. Whilst the names of donors are no longer recorded in this way, the purpose of the Great Hall is pretty much unchanged.

After many years of financial pressure, it was gratifying to hear of the Barts Charity's progress in raising much needed funding to meet its needs and to afford it the opportunity to aggressively pursue its development aims. Improved financial management and growing donations have made all this possible. The security of this ancient yet modern institution is assured.