Founded by Queen Matilda in 1147 and with HM Queen Elizabeth II as our current patron the Royal Foundation of St Katharine has served as a centre for worship, hospitality and service over many centuries.
It is an extraordinary urban oasis in the heart of London within minutes of the finance district of the old City of London and close to Canary Wharf’s gleaming towers. With 45 bedrooms and nine conference rooms around a beautiful expanse of grass and trees, it is a remarkable place of peace and tranquillity in the busyness of London life.
The Foundation hosts over 1000 events a year for some of the leading charities and not-for profit organisations. Corporates also come for board meetings and management away days to enjoy an “out-of-London” experience in the heart of the City.
The Foundation is a favourite with business travellers, looking for an alternative to cramped corporate hotels with little character. We also welcome many guests coming to London for events and conferences. The Foundation regularly ranks in the top ten London places to stay as part of the “speciality lodgings” category on Tripadvisor.
St Katharine’s also is a thriving arts and community organisation with London’s only Yurt Cafe around a wildflower and vegetable community garden complete with bees. With containers being used for creative organisations and for social projects to benefit the local community. The Foundation has entered into a new phase in its long history. As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, a dynamic volunteer network, Limehouse Aid, has joined St Katharine’s which now hosts a food bank distributing food to vulnerable families nearby.
Originally known as St Katharine’s By The Tower, it served as medieval church, hospital and centre of St Katharine’s precinct, housing over two thousand people along with its own court, factories, breweries and prisons. In 1825 the battle to preserve St Katharine’s By the Tower was lost, the land excavated and flooded to form St Katharine’s Docks. The institution survived a move to Regent’s Park, but it was not until after WWII that it finally moved back to its spiritual home in the East End, occupying the site of St James Ratcliff in 1948 after the original church’s destruction in The Blitz.
Upon its return to this East End crossroads connecting the communities of Stepney, Shadwell and Limehouse and still adjacent to the site of the old docks, the Foundation was housed in the Georgian vicarage still standing. The complex now surrounding it has grown over time, carefully constructed to preserve the sense of an oasis in the city. The re-ordered chapel is the centrepiece of retreat and reflection, gracefully knitted into the fabric connecting the Georgian house with a modern retreat and conference centre which was opened in 2005.