This page is about my recent book, telling the story of St Katharine’s, from the ancient hospital and church founded by Queen Matilda in 1148, to today’s splendid Yacht Marina that we know today, in the shadow of Tower Bridge. To purchase, click here.
Where Is It? St Katharine’s is on the Thames, next to the Tower of London to the west, Wapping to the east and almost in the shadow of Tower Bridge, close to the City 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 and some are very famous, including the collection of Thames Barges and Flamant Rose, Edith Piaff’s love boat (pictured below).
The name St Katharine’s dates back to the 12th century when St. Katharine’s Hospital and Church was founded by Queen Matilda, becoming 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. The Precinct developed with more than 4000 people in its community.
St Katharine’s has witnessed the arrival of the Romans, 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. In 1828, the medieval 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 1970s to become the splendid yachting marina we know and love today.
The Royal Foundation Of St Katharine:
The medieval Hospital and Church of St Katharine was founded in about 1148, serving the needs of the community right up to the mid-1820s, 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.The public is welcome to visit and more information is available at www.rfsk.org.uk.