Benjamin Franklin worked as a printer during 1725 at a printing press in a building in Bartholomew Close. It was on the site of the present Lady Chapel. That was, as far as we know, the first connection between the Priory Church, founded in 1123, the American colonies and the future United States of America.
Perhaps Franklin visited his old workplace when he returned to London as a signatory to the treaty that concluded the War of Independence. Certainly countless Americans have visited the Church since and declared it their favorite Church in London. They have also supported it generously in the past and you may see Prayer Books here that were the gracious gift of All Saints' Episcopal Church, East 60th Street, New York City.
Some of those who love this place are now joining together to establish The American Friends of Saint Bartholomew the Great. The American Friends are currently being set up as a not-for-profit corporation in Houston, Texas. Why Houston? Well, our former Verger, John Caster (who went on to ordination training at St Stephen's House, Oxford in September 2002), came to us from Trinity Church, Houston, and a lot of his family, friends and former colleagues are involved in setting up this new corporation.
What will the American Friends do? The Friends will (a) promote knowledge of the Priory Church and its history throughout the United States by arranging lectures and seminars, by the sale of books, videos and other material, and by including advertising material in appropriate publications, (b) encourage American visitors to London to visit the Church, and (c) collect donations and make contributions at their discretion to the Priory Church and to the Saint Bartholomew the Great Heritage Trust in order to maintain, preserve and improve the fabric, ornaments, furniture and monuments of the Priory Church.
The American Friends will be the most tax-effective way for United States citizens to support the Priory Church. We very much hope that you will want to join the American Friends of Saint Bartholomew the Great as soon as the corporation is established. It will swiftly move to establish a newsletter for American subscribers.
To register your interest please write to us at the address given below or e-mail us.
The American Friends of St Bartholomew the Great
Houston, TX 77042
Attention: John Eagleson