Henry VIII played a key role in the hospital’s history, and images of him can be found around the hospital site. These include the statue on the Henry VIII Gate, the historic Charter Window in the Great Hall, and two portraits after Holbein.
St Bartholomew’s Hospital Priory, which had been founded alongside the hospital, was closed as part of Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, and although the hospital was allowed to continue, its future was very uncertain as it had no income with which to carry out its functions.
The citizens of London, concerned about the disappearance of provision for the sick, poor and alarmed at the possibility of plague breaking out, petitioned the king for the grant of four hospitals in the City including St Bartholomew’s. Henry finally relented; near the end of his life, he issued two documents: one a signed agreement dated December 1546 granting the hospital to the City of London, and the other Letters Patent of January 1547 (signed a few days before his death) endowing it with properties and income. Along with Bethlem, Bridewell and St Thomas’, St Bartholomew’s became one of four royal hospitals administered by the City.