Prince Charles has thrown his support behind a multi-million-pound campaign to restore Britain’s oldest hospital, set up in 1123 by an aide to his royal predecessor King Henry I.

The heir to the throne has agreed to become the royal patron of Barts Heritage in the run up to the 900th anniversary of the founding of St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 2023.

The period of patronage will cover the current £15 million fundraising appeal for restoring the historic North Wing and the Henry VIII Gatehouse on the hospital’s site in Smithfield, London.

Will Palin, chief executive of Barts Heritage said: “We are hugely grateful to The Prince of Wales for his support and Patronage as we look forward to implementing our plans to conserve, repair and renovate these nationally important Grade I listed buildings.”

Mr Palin, who is the son of Monty Python star turned globetrotting TV presenter Sir Michael Palin, previously oversaw the restoration of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

The Great Hall is inside the Grade I listed North Wing which was built to house the financial and management functions of the hospital

Credit: David Butler

St Bartholomew’s was founded in the 12th century by Rahere, an Augustinian monk and favourite of Henry I, to serve the poor and sick of London, and is now the oldest hospital in the country still providing medical services from the same site. 

The North Wing was originally built in the 18th century to house the managerial functions of the hospital, and includes the famous Great Hall and a staircase painted by William Hogarth.

Renovation work has already started, while some of the building is being used as a temporary health and well-being hub for hospital staff.