The Danish Church

Restoration of the church clock

There has been a Danish Church in London since 1696, originally on Wellclose Square near the Tower of London. A community of Scandinavians had established themselves in London with the flourishing timber trade post-1666 (contemporary accounts claimed they ‘warmed themselves comfortably by the [Great] Fire’). In 1870 the 17th century Danish church was pulled down. For some years Edward VII’s Danish wife, Queen Alexandra (d. 1925), granted the use of a royal chapel for Danish services.

The current St Katharine’s church was built in 1826 by Ambrose Poynter as the chapel for the Royal Hospital of St Katharine, alongside a school. St Katharine’s was badly damaged in WWII and after the war was the building was donated to the Danish Church and restored. It was reopened by King Frederik and Queen Ingrid of Denmark in 1952. Since 1985 the Danish Church has also been the location of the ‘Danish Seamen’s Church in Foreign Harbours’.

The church’s west elevation is Bathstone faced with octagonal corner turrets and a hexagonal stone clock flanked by coats of arms. Its interior is simple and whitewashed. A model ship hangs in the nave. The church was put on the Heritage at Risk list in 2015 when it was noted that not only were the turret finials damaged and at risk of falling off, but the iron cramps in the turrets were badly decayed. The church launched a major restoration project, including creating permanent access to the turrets from the roof void to enable future maintenance.

The church clock and its mechanism had long been inaccessible. The blue enamel clock face was in poor condition, flaking and faded, and the clock was not working. The dial stonework of the clockface was restored and gilded and the internal mechanism of the clock was restored to functionality, with new hands and restored birdcage movement system.

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