top of page

St. Katharine Cree Fountain

Restoration of the fountain

St Katharine Cree dates from 1280 and is one of the oldest churches in London. Its present buildings date from 1628-31, predating the Civil War and the Great Fire, making it one of the oldest buildings in the City. Its south wall gateway from Leadenhall Street to the churchyard was built by, and commemorates, ‘William Avenon, Citizen and Goldsmith’ who died in 1631. In the pediment is a recumbent skeleton with its body wrapped in a shroud and its head resting on a rolled up mat.

The 13th century churchyard was reordered in 1965 and renamed the Fitch Garden, in acknowledgement of funding from local food business Fitch & Son. James Fitch had started the business in 1784 as a City cheesemongers shop. As part of this reordering, the 17th century gateway was moved from the south to north wall in the garden and filled in with a fountain. A memorial stone was created above the fountain dedicated to ‘those who work in this city and James Fitch 1762 – 1818’.

The lion’s head from which the water spouts is believed to be a reference to the annual Lion Sermon, still preached in the church every October, commemorating the miraculous escape of Sir John Gayer (1584 – 1649) from a lion whilst travelling in Syria in 1643. Sir John was a merchant of the city and Lord Mayor and created this annual institution as an act of thanksgiving.

The stonework is in overall good condition, especially the carved figure which is sheltered by the pediment. There are isolated non-structural failures and previous unsympathetic cement repairs noticeable. Some small pieces of stonework have sheared off. Sulphation crust is present throughout, and it is assumed that these deposits date back to the original location. The upper areas of the stone arch are saturated with water and organic staining, likely from previous water ingress at the top of the arch before the lead flashing was installed. HOLT is supporting the restoration which will see the main structure will be DOFF cleaned and the figure cleaned with a hand held steam cleaner. A 5% ammonium carbonate poultice will be used to soften and remove the surface staining. If the cement repairs are good condition and no hollow sections or cracks are found, they should remain in position, as removal could potentially damage the surrounding original stonework. If the cement repairs have failed, they will be removed and replaced with stone indents in areas of leading edges and corners or with lime mortar. All joints should then be repointed in lime mortar. The lead work at the top of the arch will be checked for micro cracks and failures. Any organic growth will be removed. The existing pipes will be jetted and flushed through, the sump cleaned and emptied, the pump replaced with a new pump and connections made. On completion of the work, the structure will have 4 applications of a limewash shelter coat to protect friable areas of the stonework and aid the visual aspect of the arch overall.

whitechapel 2.jpg
bottom of page