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The Royal Foundation of St Katharine

A Grade II* Listed Building in Shadwell, London

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Latitude: 51.5113 / 51°30'40"N

Longitude: -0.0417 / 0°2'30"W

OS Eastings: 535989

OS Northings: 180970

OS Grid: TQ359809

Mapcode National: GBR K4.D4Y

Mapcode Global: VHGR1.789S

Plus Code: 9C3XGX65+G8

Entry Name: The Royal Foundation of St Katharine

Listing Date: 29 December 1950

Last Amended: 11 December 2018

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1065284

English Heritage Legacy ID: 205806

Also known as: The Royal Foundation of St Katherine

ID on this website: 101065284

Location: Ratcliff, Tower Hamlets, London, E14

County: London

District: Tower Hamlets

Electoral Ward/Division: Shadwell

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Tower Hamlets

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Paul Shadwell

Church of England Diocese: London

Tagged with: Building

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Master's House of 1795, possibly by Thomas Leverton (1743-1842). Southern liturgical range of 1953 by R E Enthoven (1900-1985), including chapter house, cloister and chapel with interior by Robert Maguire and Keith Murray,and Ralph Beyer, reordered and altered in 2002, by Christopher Smallwood Architects.


Master's House of 1795, possibly by Thomas Leverton (1743-1842). Southern liturgical range of 1953 by R E Enthoven (1900-1985), including chapter house, cloister and chapel with interior by Keith Murray, Robert Maguire and Ralph Beyer, reordered and  altered in 2002, by Christopher Smallwood Architects.
The Master's House
MATERIALS: yellow-brown brick in Flemish bond, with stone dressings, under a slate roof.
PLAN: the house has a double-depth plan and consists of two and three storeys, with attic rooms and a partly double-depth cellar. The principal elevation faces west, with a small garden area to the front. The main entrance opens into a central hall, the principal ground floor rooms, and the staircase is to the north. Also to the north side, there is a C19 two-storey extension.
EXTERIOR: the main portion of the principal elevation is symmetrical and of three bays, with the central bay projecting forward slightly. In front, there is a tetra-style wooden porch which has four Ionic columns, supporting a plain frieze, and cornice, which was rebuilt in the later C20. The outer bays have a sash window at all levels; three-over-four panes at ground and first floor, and smaller two-over-three panes at the second floor. The central bay repeats this fenestration pattern from the first floor upwards. All windows are recessed under flat gauged-brick arches, and those on the ground floor also have round-headed relieving arches with gauged-brick detailing. There is a continuous stone plat band, the side sections of which are moulded. The front elevation is terminated by a stone modillion cornice below a rebuilt, partly-balustraded parapet. There are four internal chimney stacks, which are located above the gables of the concealed pitched roof. A mid-C20 southern liturgical  range is attached to the south side of the Master's house (described below).
The rear elevation faces east on to a garden quadrangle. It is formed of four bays and is broadly symmetrical, apart from a curved, ground-floor, bay window which stretches over two bays to the northern end at ground floor level. Fenestration consists of three-over-four paned sashes to the ground and first floors, with smaller three-over-three sashes to the second floor. All windows are recessed and stand under flat gauged-brick arches. The two southern windows at ground floor level almost descend to the ground. That to the far left appears original and the bay to its right now has a pair of French windows, but was probably originally similar. 
The C19, west-facing, two-storey extension to the north is formed of two bays. The ground floor windows are C20, top-hinged, multi-paned casements under flat, gauged-brick arches. The first-storey windows are two-over-three replacement sashes. To the rear at first floor level, there is a multi-paned and curved sash window with a concrete base. To the ground floor there is a single, late-C20 casement window.  

INTERIOR: to the centre of the plan is a rectangular, staircase hall. This connects at its northern side through a C20 glazed screen to the staircase. Timber panelled doors in round-headed architraves lead to the two principal rooms at the rear of the house, and the staircase hall is laid with black and white stone tiles in a geometric pattern. There are also stylised Ionic pilasters, with the volutes replaced by sheaves of sugar cane. Columns to a similar design, support the entrance to the open-well staircase. The stair has carved brackets to the strings and simple carved ends. The C19 wooden balusters are of the bobbin type, and the handrail is square in section. Beyond the first floor, the ends are plain and the balusters are straight.
The principal ground-floor rooms consist of a drawing room to the south side, and a dining room to the north side. They have elegant late-C18 fire surrounds, both of which have slender curved uprights, but are subtlety different in their design detail. The rooms contain C18-C19 Italian and English mural paintings: in the drawing room a classical land and seascape after the 1772 engravings of Claude's Arch of Titus, the Landing of Aeneas and a simpler mural of a classical vase; in the dining room, two panels, a seascape and coastal fortifications by Vernetone, and a painting of Italian subjects by Richard Wilson. The drawing room has a richly-moulded cornice in a foliage design, and 'trompe l’oeuil’ panels below the window level. The dining room has a dado rail, and two round-headed corner bookcases, one of which has been used to give access to the C19 extension. To the south of the staircase hall, there is a small room with C19 fireplace and plain moulded cornice. A C20 door provides access to the southern liturgical range.
On the first floor the staircase opens on to the landing through a series of round-headed arches, and the cornice has foliage above a line of bosses. The first floor landing has a modillion cornice, with fretwork below. A small room has been inserted to the front of the house, possibly in the position of the original stair. The principal doors at this level also have round-headed architraves, some with an urn moulded in relief. The first floor rooms have simple moulded cornices, and smaller, and simpler fireplaces some of which are C19. All rooms retain their shutters. The second floor rooms have lower ceilings and are fairly plain.
The C19 extension to the north has a functional kitchen on the ground floor, with an apartment above. The cellar runs across the width and depth of the house, and there is a deeper section with a brick-vaulted ceiling, located to the south-west corner.

The Southern liturgical range
MATERIALS: light-brown brick in Flemish bond with concrete window surrounds, under a clay pantile roof. The chapel is of portal construction, with stone detailing, and copper roof.
PLAN: the two-storey, southern range is attached to the south side of the Master's House, and runs west to east, culminating in a chapel at its east end. There is an entrance at the west elevation. The section attached to the house (former chapter house) includes a small reception hall, an office, and two meeting rooms (formerly the boiler room and chapter room). The first floor is arranged as bedrooms. It is connected to the chapel via a cloister, which is open to the north side.
EXTERIOR: at the west elevation, the former chapter house has three bays and is symmetrical with projecting stone surrounds to the ground-floor openings. The central bay has a pair of solid timber panelled doors, surmounted by a square, stone plaque bearing a coat of arms with lion and dragon supporters (heraldically associated with Queen Elizabeth I). The bays either side have a single casement window to each floor. The roof is shallow-pitched, hipped, and partially hidden behind a concrete parapet.
The southern elevation is plain, and leads into the south-facing wall of the cloister. The open, north elevation of the cloister has a shallow-pitched pantile roof, supported by five brick columns, laid in Flemish bond. The floor consists of concrete paving, and the walling has been pierced with later-C20 brick loopholes. To the eastern end there is stone frieze depicting St Katharine, and a wrought-iron gate to the chapel porch. 
The chapel is gable-ended and rectangular in plan. The front and west-facing gable is brick-built in Flemish bond, and has a large, square, open porch, which is faced in ashlar stone. At each side of the doors leading into the chapel there are stone statues; Queen Philippa to the left and King Edward III to the right. The paired entry doors are recessed within a moulded stone architrave, and are constructed of diagonal boarding with inset diamond-shaped lights. Between the narthex and the nave, there is another set of paired doors which have Gothic tracery, and marginal stained glass. They are reputed to be from Ambrose Poynter’s Regents Park chapel of 1828. Towards the top of the gable, there is a central rose window commemorating the foundation, which has a stone surround. The east-facing gable has a similar example, and two tall and slender casements which provide light to the east end of the chapel. The brick-built side elevations have three late-C20, large and multi-paned windows. They are set within stone, segmental-headed architraves, fashioned in a stripped-back Gothic style. The central example on the northern side extends to the ground level. The shallow-pitched roof is copper-covered, and there is a bell supported by a bracket, which projects from the top of the western gable. On the southern side of the chapel's western gable at first floor level, there is a brick wall connection to the Victor Churchill building. This building is also connected on the ground floor to the former chapter house.
INTERIOR: the chapel in its re-ordered form has windows of plain glass with Tudor-arched heads. Below the window cills, there is oak panelling decorated with the coats of arms of some of the masters of the foundation from the C15-C19. The shallow-pitched ceiling is now covered over with a dark, timber-style sub-ceiling supported on stone corbels. The ceiling was originally plain and displayed its portal construction.
The chapel contains a number of fixtures and fittings from the foundation's earlier buildings. In the narthex: a circular marble plaque commemorating Anne Poynhz of 1694;  a square marble plaque of 1855 dedicated to the Reverend Davies; and a large rectangular marble plaque with stone swags (text indecipherable). Either side of the narthex, there is a small prayer room. The floor throughout is laid with stone slabs.
In the nave there are C14 carved timber misericord seats, and choir stalls (restored in the C19) from the Mediaeval Church of Saint Katharine by the Tower. There are two groups; to the east end, a set either side of the altar which have carved front panels, each depicting the head of a human figure; to the west a further set of two on the western wall, which are linked by a richly-carved set of three C17 panels. The panels are thought to be from Poynter's earlier chapel and depict angels making music and singing. The richly carved misericords carry lively figures, including an angel blowing bagpipes, an elephant and castle with a single rider, and the devil grabbing two chattering women. The sides of the chapel are fitted with mid-C20 oak-panelling, decorated with the coats of arms of some of the masters of the foundation from the C15-C19. The C18 hexagonal pulpit has carved panels of domes and spired churches. An inscription runs around the base commemorating Ezra the scribe. There is also an C18 organ from an earlier foundation chapel.

The Welsh slate altar is formed of dark-grey slabs, and is located to the east end. It was designed by Keith Murray, and is carved with inscriptions from Roman catacombs by Ralph Bayer. The inscription facing into the chapel reads: ‘BEHOLD I LAY IN SION A CHIEF CORNERSTONE, ELECT, PRECIOUS / AND HE THAT BELIEVETH ON HIM SHALL NOT BE CONFOUNDED’.  

The later-C20 oak reredos is carved in a simplified Gothic style, and has as its centre-piece, a stone carved panel depicting the Adoration of the Magi (moved from the Cloister in 2004). The imagery depicts the three wise men visiting the baby Jesus. It is similar to a C15 painting by Benevenuto di Giovanni (National Gallery, London). Above the reredos, a circular stained glass window depicts the wheel on which Saint Katharine was tortured before her martyrdom. High on the west wall of the chapel there is a carved crucifix by Michael Groser, son of the first post-war Master, Father St John Groser. The font, which stands on a C17 column and has linenfold-panelling, was donated by Queen Victoria. Attached to the walls of the chapel, there are commemorative panels for Frederick Becker, who drowned in the Thames around 1663, and Lady Ann Poynz who died in 1729.
In front of the altar in the centre of the floor, there is compass rose of 2004, laid in granite from Saint Catherine’s Monastery on the slopes of Mount Sinai, the world’s oldest Christian monastery. The eight arms of the compass denote the seven days of creation and the day of the resurrection. They point to the corners of the earth, and extol the viewer to ‘GO, PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL TO ALL NATIONS’. The ring encircling the compass is inscribed with words of Saint Augustine of Hippo ‘WE DO NOT COME TO GOD BY NAVIGATION BUT BY LOVE.’
The cloister also contains a number of memorials, notably: for George Montacute of 1681, with classical surround and broken pediment; tablets for the past luminaries associated with St Katharine, Sister Emily Wynyard 1832, Sister Lucy Northey 1874, George Baxter 1811, Reverend R W Baxter 1850, Andrew Coltee Ducarel 1785, William Waterson 1710, Elizabeth Grigg 1760, Mrs Pierce 1777, Mary Louise Taylor 1845, and Joanna Caesar 1694. There is also an armorial commemorating Lieutenant General Herbert Taylor 1845, with military trophies below. To the east end of the cloister wall there is a dedication to the architect (Enthoven) and a brass, First World War memorial plaque, commemorating six members of the foundation who lost their lives in this conflict.
The interior of the former chapter house is functional, with plain later-C20 fixtures and fittings. The staircase has a plain metal rail and balusters.

The gates*, piers* and railings* to the western boundary of the Master's house and the full extent of the boundary wall* are later-C20 replacements and are excluded from the listing. The 1953 accommodation range* to the north is also excluded from the listing.

* Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.


The Foundation of St Katharine is a Christian organisation that was founded in 1147 as a religious community, located next to the Tower of London. It became a Royal Peculiar in the C13 when it was recognised by Queen Eleanor. The original buildings were mostly C14 and C15, and by 1442, housed a sizeable population. By 1825, the area was somewhat dilapidated, and was redeveloped as the St Katharine Docks. The foundation moved to Regents Park, and then the East End, before relocating to the building in Butcher Row, which then became known as the Master’s House.
The Master's House was built in 1795-1796, after a fire had destroyed an earlier property. The extant house was commissioned by Matthew Whiting, a sugar refiner, and the plaster detailing in the main hall appears to include sheaves of sugar cane. The builder was William Mason, and the architect was possibly Thomas Leverton (1743-1842), who worked for the Phoenix Insurance Company, of which, Matthew Whiting was a director. The hallway and staircase archways at the Master's house are reminiscent of Leverton's earlier work.
Leverton designed Wood Hall (National Heritage List for England (NHLE) reference 1000317, Grade II*), which was built in 1782 for Sir Thomas Rumbold, and included a hall decorated in the Etruscan style. In 1780 he designed Plaistow Lodge (NHLE reference 1055761, Grade II*) for Peter Thellusson at Bromley, Kent in a style suggestive of Robert Adam. Pevsner notes that Leverton's interiors "have a style, decidedly their own, different from Adam’s or Chambers's or Hollands's, their character coming out most clearly in the central staircase hallway, profusely but very delicately decorated with plaster à la antique".
By the C19, the house was in use as a vicarage for the Church of St James, which was located on the site. It is probable that around this time, a bay window and side extension were added, along with further painted murals in the principal rooms. In addition, the staircase appears to have been moved from a more central position within the house, to its current position on the northern side. During the Second World War, the house and Church of St James were damaged by bombing, and after the war the house was restored and became known as the Royal Foundation of St Katharine. The horned sash windows probably date from this time. The Church of St James was demolished. A blue plaque is attached to the west front of the house and commemorates the Reverend John Groser (1890-1966) who lived there, and was a well-known East End priest and social reformer. On the southern elevation at ground floor level, there is a stone plaque summarising the history of the foundation.
The house is attached to a southern liturgical range including a chapel, of 1953, by the architect R E Enthoven (1900-1985). Enthoven was a fellow of the RIBA, and also served as their librarian. His architectural work included the sensitive restoration and extension of historic buildings such as Goldsmith's Hall, London, and the Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford. 
The southern range included a former chapter room, boiler room (now meeting room), cloister, and chapel, and was completed to coincide with the Festival of Britain. A competition was set for the design of the chapel interior, and this was won by Keith Murray, Robert Maguire and Ralph Beyer. Murray and Maguire later formed a partnership where they specialised in church interiors, based around the concept of co-joined and participative worship between clergy and laity.
In 2002, the chapel interior was re-ordered by Christopher Smallwood Architects. The principal changes included the removal of a ceiling-hung corona and the move of the altar to the east end away from the centre of the chapel. In parallel, three tall and narrow windows were replaced on the north and south elevations with the extant wider examples. Round rose windows by Alan Younger were also inserted into the east and west elevations. The former chapter house meeting rooms have been altered to create more meeting space, and the cloister has been disconnected from the chapel.
There is also a northern range of accommodation, however this is much altered, and not included in the listing. In 1974, the 'John Groser Room' was added to the north, and in 2002, PRP Architects extended the dining room northward, added a conservatory to the south, and reordered the interior including the insertion of corridors. The two ranges were originally connected by a covered way, but this was removed in 2002.
During 2002-2004, PRP Architects designed and erected a new range (known as the north-east wing). In 2017, Matthew Lloyd Architects designed and erected the Victor Churchill building, which is located south of the cloister, with walls attached to the chapel and former chapter house. At the time of this assessment (November 2018) these C21 buildings and structures are too young to be eligible for listing assessment and are therefore also excluded from the listing.

Reasons for Listing

The Royal Foundation of St Katharine, consisting of the Master's House of 1795, possibly by Thomas Leverton (1743-1842), and Southern liturgical range of 1953 by R E Enthoven (1900-1985), including the former chapter house, cloister and chapel with interior by Keith Murray, Robert Maguire and Ralph Beyer, reordered and altered in 2004, by Christopher Smallwood Architects, is listed at Grade II*, for the following principal reasons:
Architectural interest:
Master's House
* as a late-C18 town house, possibly by Thomas Leverton, which retains its confident Georgian composition;
* for the interior late-C18 to early-C19 painted wall murals of harbour scenes, seascapes and coastal fortifications;
* for the interior late-C18 plaster work, personalised with sheaves of sugar cane, and the good quality detailing of the round-headed staircase archways, door architraves and other fixtures and fittings. 
Southern liturgical range
* as a rare mid-C20 chapel, cloister, and former chapter house, designed and built as part of the Festival of Britain;
* although reordered, the chapel retains key elements and fixtures of the Maguire and Murray scheme, including the altar carved by Ralph Beyer;
* within the chapel, for the quality and rarity of the C14 misericords and C17 choir stalls, along with the C18 marquetry pulpit, and the relocated stained-glass doors and C17 timber panels from Ambrose Poynter's 1822 church;
* the range of high quality C17, C18 and C19 commemorative monuments throughout the chapel and cloister.
Historic interest:
* displaying the evolution of the Royal Foundation of St Katharine, from its C12 origins, through the use of monuments commemorating foundation members, and the introduction of contextual fixtures and fittings from as early as the C14;
* illustration of the changing religious practices and preferences in liturgical architecture, through the transition from a stripped-back Festival of Britain design to the more formal and traditional ordering of the later-C20.

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