Worship, Hospitality and Service.
One of 14 Royal Peculiars, churches, chapels and communities reporting directly to the Queen, The Royal Foundation of St Katharine, established in 1147 as a hospice, has a fascinating 869 year history. Today The Foundation operates a Retreat House and Conference Centre in Limehouse, London E14. www.rfsk.org.uk focused on its guiding principles of Worship, Hospitality and Service.
The primary use of St Katharine’s is accommodating retreat events for groups and individuals and conferences for not-for-profit organisations and church groups at accessible rates. The significant discounts offered to these groups are funded through the commercial operation of the bedrooms and conference space at other times. St Katharine’s is 100m from Limehouse DLR Station and hence two stops from both Bank and Canary Wharf. While St Katharine’s is Anglican in its roots, it provides a very welcoming space for all Christian groups as well as for people of other faiths.
Immediately adjacent to the existing footprint of the Retreat House and Conference Centre, St Katharine’s owns 2,800sqm of land which has been unoccupied for over a decade. The Foundation wishes to make effective use of this land through increased hospitality and service to the community with an aspiration to build 90 rental flats, a community café and shared work space, 100 seat conference facility, 28 new bedrooms and a secluded roof terrace for reflection and contemplation. The rental flats would be available to/focused on key and low income workers.
Increased connection with the community has been established through a Meanwhile project, St Katharine’s Precinct, accommodating a community hub, 12 artists’ studios, an outdoor amphitheatre or cinema, a reflective Yurt and London’s only Yurt Cafe, which, in November, won Time Out’s Cafe Award for the Poplar, Wapping and Shadwell area. A strong programme of community activity and engagement, plus the popularity of The Yurt Cafe in a densely populated area with limited restaurants and cafes, has had a highly positive social impact and attracted support from respected local community groups.
Every visitor to St Katharine’s comments on the very special calm welcoming atmosphere and how much they enjoy being at this extraordinary urban oasis.