Where Is It?
St Katharine Docks is located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It lays in the shadow of Tower Bridge and is adjacent to the Tower of London. The Marina today is a fine place to visit, with cafes, restaurants, shops and historical interest, bustling with activity and delight. The boats in the docks range from small to large and luxurious, some are very famous, including the collection of Thames Barges. Scroll down to the bottom to see recent pictures. To view a larger map, click here.
This part of the Thames has witnessed the arrival of the Romans (St. Katharine’s borders the ancient Roman settlement of Londonium, which now forms the City of London), the monarchs travelling between Greenwich and Hampton Court, the Great Fire of London , the plague and also the rise and decline of London as the greatest port in the world, right up to today’s magnificent Thames Festivals and the recent triumphant Thames Pageant celebrating the Queen’s sixty year rule. By 1828, the mediaeval Hospital and Church of St Katharine had to make way for the opening of St Katharine Docks, which became the ‘luxury commodity’ centre for Europe, importing the very finest perfumes, ivory, herbs, spices, silks,wines and much more. Badly damaged during the second world war and with trade declining, the Docks closed, only to be resurrected in the 1970′s to become the splendid yachting marina we know and love today.
The name St Katharine’s dates back to the 11th century; here St. Katharine’s Hospital and Church became important and powerful, with its Royal patronage dominating for more than 800 years. The first mention of docks on the land was in the 14th century.
(Above, the port of London in 1882. On the far left is St Katharine Docks (uniquely placed next to the City)
The Royal Foundation Of St Katharine:
The mediaeval Hospital and Church of St Katharine was founded in about 1148, serving the needs of the community right up to the mid 1820′s, when it was razed to the ground, despite great hostility, to make way for the prestigious new Docks, using the same name. Many relics were saved and transferred to the new premises provided in Regents Park. The Royal Foundation later moved to Limehouse, where the relics are now splendidly preserved in the Chapel.
Today’s Royal Foundation describes itself as ‘a hidden urban oasis’ offering residential accommodation and meeting facilities, available for up to 70 delegates and individuals. An easy walk from Limehouse DLR or the 15 bus, the address is 2, Butcher Row, London E14 8DS
The Patron of St Katharine’s is still the Queen, who agreed the appointment of Rev Mark Aitkin as Master in January this year, a custom preserved by the Monarchy (usually the Queen, down the ages since Queen Matilda, its first patron 900 years ago). This lineage is one of the oldest in history and is an important part of this incredible story, as with the quality of the preserved relics, which you will see from the photographs below.
The public is welcome to visit and more information is available at www.rfsk.org.uk.
The Royal Mint:was located opposite the old docks entrance and operated here for over 1,000 years; it exclusively manufactured coins for HM Treasury. The Mint was founded in 886 AD under Alfred the Great and has since been an essential and fundamental part of British history. It also produced military medals and other items for countries and organisations across the globe. Interestingly, Sir Isaac Newton was Master of the Royal Mint in in the late 1600s, improving its reputation following various counterfeiting scandals. The Royal Mint is now located in Llantrisant, Wales.
Nightingale Lane was, for hundreds of years, renowned for being home to villains of all kinds; it separated St Katharine Docks from London Dock and it has now been renamed Thomas More Street. Times Newspapers transferred here from Fleet Street some time ago, and press people were here again recently, hoping to get sight of Rupert Murdoch, talking to staff at the Sun.
Beating the Bounds at All Hallows By The Tower: This church is the oldest church in the City of London, and so very worthwhile to visit. Beating the Bounds is an ancient custom still observed in many English parishes. Its roots go back to medieval times when parishes reaffirmed their boundaries by processing round them at Rogationtide, stopping to beat each boundary mark with wands and to pray for protection and blessings for the land.
Plenty more interesting detail on: http://www.ahbtt.org.uk/history/beating-the-bounds/
Here are some recent pictures taken at St.Katharines