Mission & Purpose
The present ministry of St Katharine Cree dates back to the early 1950s when by Act of Parliament it was one of a number of the City churches to be designated and established as a Guild Church, with the primary purpose "to serve and minister to the non-resident day-time population of the City".
It subsequently became the home for over twenty-five years of the Industrial Christian Fellowship and became known as the Guild Church to Commerce, Finance and Industry - a ministry to resource the workplace, which has continued to this day.
The aim now is to build on this legacy:
- to be a place of sanctuary and spiritual wellbeing,
- to be a place for community to gather, celebrate and commemorate together, and also
- play our part in the Common Good, supporting vulnerable people and those in need.
We hope you will join in with us.
The church of St Katharine Cree dates back to the 13th century. The current building was constructed in 1633 and the imposing Jacobean architecture is unique in London. Handel and Purcell are part of the church’s history as both played on the organ, which still retains some of its outstanding 17th-century pipework. But it is the way that the church has served the City that marks it out. For example, after the Great Fire St Katharine Cree remained standing and was used by the Liveries serving food to workers as the Company halls were rebuilt. Today the building retains its role as a sanctuary to those who live and work nearby.
Brian Grumbridge wrote up the history of the Guild Church of St Katharine Cree that is available for £25 plus P&P. Please get in touch if you would like to purchase a copy.
Now known as the Guild Church to Finance, Commerce and Industry, the present building dates from 1630, although the tower dates from 1504 and was part of the previous church on the site, which itself originally formed part of the mediaeval Priory of the Holy Trinity (1108).
The church is Grade I listed, having survived the Great Fire of 1666, the Second World War (with some damage to the roof) and the Baltic Exchange bomb of 1992, which blew out the central part of the 17th-century east window.
In 1873 it subsumed the nearby church of St James, Duke's Place, which was demolished. It is the Ward Church of the Aldgate Ward and Wardmotes are held here. The Aldgate Ward is the shipping and insurance Ward of the City, and the churchyard is surrounded by offices and flats.
An audio tour with key images is shortly to be released, so watch this space!
The organ, restored in 2003 is an instrument of outstanding quality, having some 17th-century pipes by ‘Father’ Smith and good 19th-century additions. The original instrument was played by Purcell and Handel.
Having been the headquarters of the Industrial Christian Fellowship from 1962-97 and in its present role as a Guild Church, St Katharine’s has a special responsibility to those who work in the offices in the vicinity. We believe that the working environment is as important a part of God’s world as any other and that this area of our lives can often be neglected by churches. In recognition of this future developments will explore and bring into being new ways and means for this ancient church to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission among the people of the Square Mile.
Bells have been heard from the tower of St Katharine Cree since at least the 16th century. The church survived both the Great Fire of London and the Blitz. The tower is the oldest part of the building, the lower stages of which date from 1504. There have always been at least five bells in the tower, the first ring having been a ring of six (first recorded in 1552).
To ensure that the bells ring for many generations of Londoners to come, we joined up with the leading society of bell ringers in London, the Middlesex County Association and London Diocesan Guild of Ringers, to see the bells restored. Work undertaken to restore the bells in 2009 included removal of the bells to Whitechapel Bell Foundry; cleaning and careful tuning of the bells to form a true diatonic scale; carefully extracting the rusting iron crown staples, new fittings; a new iron and steel frame and a variable sound control ceiling over the installation period.
Now the bells are restored, there is no reason why they should not ring out from the belfry for another 500 years. We are thankful to all those who contributed to this appeal, who will leave a legacy, not just for one generation, but for many generations to come.
- St Katharine Cree Church St Katharine Cree Church St Katharine Cree Church
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The present church was built between 1628 and 1630 under the influence of William Laud, at that time Bishop of London, although much of its location as a place of worship goes back much further.
The Priory of the Holy Trinity was founded in 1108 by Matilda, Henry I's consort, for the Canons Regular. By her generous endowment she gave not only the vast Priory Church and Convent, but also the whole ward of Portsoken, four parishes including that of St Katharine and the Aldgate city gate.
Eventually by agreement with the Priory and Convent, the church of St Katharine was built in the churchyard of the said church at the motion of Lord Richard de Graveshende, Bishop of London between 1280 and 1303.
Little is known of this early church other than the tower was added in 1504 with money left by Sir John Percivall, Merchant Taylor.
In 1531, the priory was dissolved and its buildings given to Lord Audley. He in turn offered the Priory Church to the parishioners of St Katharine, but Stow records show that "Having doubts in their heads of afterclaps" (the random notes of bells after ringing) they refused. By 1620 St Katharine Creechurch was in decay. A deed dates 15 September 1629 refers to the "ruin and decay" of the church causing the buildings to fail and as a result it was pulled down.
It was not then until 1628 that a church was back in place at St Katharine's.
- The Rose Window The Rose Window The Rose Window
- The Laud Chapel The Laud Chapel The Laud Chapel
- The Lancastria Memorial Window The Lancastria Memorial Window The Lancastria Memorial Window
- Original Pillar Original Pillar Original Pillar
- The Organ The Organ The Organ
- Clock mechanism Clock mechanism Clock mechanism
- The Pulpit The Pulpit The Pulpit
- The Font and the Gayer family The Font and the Gayer family The Font and the Gayer family
- The 17 Ceiling Bosses The 17 Ceiling Bosses The 17 Ceiling Bosses
- The Avenon doorway The Avenon doorway The Avenon doorway
- The Sun Dial The Sun Dial The Sun Dial