St Katharine’s is the Church for all Danes in London and England. It is the Danish ‘folkekirke’ abroad – a Lutheran church similar to the Danish parish churches in Denmark. There are Sunday services, christenings, confirmations, weddings and funerals in Danish and English.
St Katharine’s is situated in the north-east corner of Regent’s Park, not far from Camden Town. The church hall is used for cultural activities and the shop stocks Danish food specialities. It is open every day except Mondays.
There are social events from time to time including a May Spring fair, and Santa Lucia in December.
Thanks to ‘Friends of Regents Park’ for the following:
Before moving to St Katharine’s, the Danish church had been in Wellclose Square (and the Swedish Church in neighbouring Princes Square – now called Swedenborg Square – history here. ), just east of St Katharine’s Dock, in Tower Hamlets. The first church, designed by the Danish architect, Caius Gabriel Cibber, was built in 1696 but it was demolished in 1869 because of the decline of the Danish community in the area. Church services were subsequently conducted in the Swedish Church in Harcourt Street and St Clement Danes in the Strand before moving to St Katharine’s.
The church in Regent’s park contains some of the original fittings rescued from the Cibber church. It also has many royal coats of arms as it was originally built in 1829 to house the Royal Foundation of St Katharine, founded by English Queen Matilda in 1147. The Foundation had to be relocated because its original site, just east of the Tower of London, had been requisitioned for the building of St Katharine’s dock. Today the Foundation has returned to London’s East End in Butcher Row [see also on map here] a little bit further east near Limehouse. It is a venue for meetings, receptions and personal reflection. It is currently developing a community hospitality and wellbeing space using disused containers and yurts. It opened October 2015 – pictures here.
In 1867 the Danish Seaman’s Church in Foreign Harbours was established and has existed for many years in different locations. The last independent building of the Seaman’s Church was functional until 1985. Now the Seaman’s pastor works at St Katherine’s.
2012 was a Jubilee year as on 11 May 1952, King Frederik and Queen Ingrid of Denmark attended the opening of the new home for the Danish church, the renovated and refurbished St Katharine’s Church in Regent’s Park. It was timely that their daughter, HM Queen Anne-Marie of Greece (wife of King Constantine of Greece and now both based in London), should open the annual Church Summer Bazaar on 11 May 2012, exactly 60 years’ later. HM Queen Anne-Marie is a sister of reigning Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
Santa Lucia at the Danish Church: