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Following the diminished influence of the ancient Priory, predecessor of the two parishes of St Bartholomew, disputes began to arise over rights to tithes and taxes payable by lay residents who claimed allegiance with the nearby and anciently associated parish of St Botolph Aldersgate — an unintended consequence and legacy of King Kenry VIII's religious reforms.
Smithfield's meat market dates from the 10th century, and is now London's only remaining wholesale market in continuous operation since medieval times.After the Reformation it was left with neither income nor monastic occupants but, following a petition by the City Corporation, Henry VIII refounded it in December 1546, as the "House of the Poore in West Smithfield in the suburbs of the City of London of Henry VIII's Foundation".Letters Patent were presented to the City, granting property and income to the new foundation the following month.Great St Barts' present parish boundary includes just 10 feet (3.048 m) of Smithfield — possibly delineating a former right of way.After the Reformation, a separate parish likewise dedicated to St Bartholomew was granted in favour of St Bartholomew's Hospital; named St Bartholomew-the-Less, it remained under the hospital's patronage, unique in the Church of England, until 1948, when the hospital was nationalized in the National Health Service.The prior of Charterhouse went to Thomas Cromwell, accompanied by two other local priors, seeking an oath of supremacy that would be acceptable to their communities.
Instead they were imprisoned in the Tower of London, and on , they were taken to Tyburn and hanged — becoming the first Catholic martyrs of the Reformation.
With the advent of street lighting, mains water, and sewerage during the Victorian era, maintenance of such an ancient parish with so few parishioners became increasingly uneconomical after the Industrial Revolution.
In 1910, it agreed to be incorporated by the Corporation of London which guaranteed financial support and security.
A trading event for cloth and other goods as well as being a pleasure forum, the four-day festival drew crowds from all strata of English society.
In 1855, however, the City authorities closed Bartholomew Fair as they considered it to have degenerated into a magnet for debauchery and public disorder.) of land at Spital Croft, north of Long Lane, from the Master and Brethren of St Bartholomew's Hospital, for a graveyard and plague pit for victims of the Black Death.
Smithfield Market, a Grade II listed-covered market building, was designed by Victorian architect Sir Horace Jones in the second half of the 19th century, and is the dominant architectural feature of the area.