Smithfield began life as the smooth field outside the walls of
the medieval city of London and a meat market has taken place here
for about the last thousand years of London's history. This site
has been the place of much butchery, both animal and human, because
this was the place of a great deal of execution. William Wallace,
Braveheart, was hung, drawn and quartered here and during the
Counter-reformation in the reign of Mary I, Bloody Mary, many
protestants were burned at the stake on this site.
The Priory Hospital of St Bartholomew of Smithfield was founded
in 1123 by Rahere, who took a pilgrimage to Rome where he was
bitten by a mosquito and caught malaria. Falling into a deep sleep,
he had a vision of St Bartholomew who promised to cure him if in
return Rahere would build a priory hospital to look after the poor
and the sick of his own city.
This video is from Medical London, a book and
website about 2000 years of health and sickness in the capital
city, featuring seven self-guided walks. Smithfield is a point of
interest on the third walk, 'Gallows, Ghosts and Golden Boys: A day
in the life of an 18th-century medical student'.