Royal Foundation of St. Katharine

Ever since we first moved to Limehouse in the early 1980s I have been intrigued by the Royal Foundation of St. Katharine which occupies a large site on Butcher Row, but always seems impenetrable.   Today I was told that they had opened a Yurt.   They have indeed:-


I realised that their entrance is at the back, so I asked to see the chapel.   It’s an ancient foundation, originally established by Queen Matilda in 1147 by the Tower of London.   The creation of St. Katharine’s dock displaced them to Regent’s Park and after the war they moved to the site of the old parish church of St. James Ratcliffe which was bombed in 1940, taking over the eighteenth-century vicarage.   The chapel and surrounding retreat were designed by R.E. Enthoven in good Festival of Britain style.

This is the Master’s House, built in 1795 for Matthew Whiting, a sugar refiner and Director of the Phoenix Assurance Company, which oversaw the reconstruction of the neighbourhood after a fire in 1794:-


This is the chapel:-


And one of the surviving monuments from the church:-



4 thoughts on “Royal Foundation of St. Katharine

  1. pbmum says:

    We’ve been to the Yurt but I have never been in the chapel. I believe it has some sculptural work in it by Michael Groser, son of the radical priest Fr John Groser who was master of St Katharine’s in the immediate post war period. Over twenty years ago I was approached by a later radical priest, Fr Ken Leech, to consider writing something about Groser. He took me off to Oxford to have dinner with Michael Groser and his family who – certainly to my working class eye – seemed to live a very attractive life surrounded by the sorts of objects that you could buy in Heals or David Mellor. I found the whole thing terrifying! I never did write anything about Groser but I was thrilled to see the development of the Yurt and the Bow Arts studio spaces. They struck me as exactly the sort of arts and community involvement John Groser would have championed.


  2. I am delighted to see this blog and the comment. I would be happy to show anybody around the site and the Chapel. I was admiring church art in Rome when it was published. I am the current Master. A film of “Murder in the Cathedral” by George Hoellering, in which John Grocer plays Becket has recently been re-released by BFI.

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