In St Katharine’s precinct off the Outer Circle is the Danish Church. In the centre of the courtyard, is an Ornamental Well, under which was the conduit supplying water when St Katharine’s was a hospital. A replica of a Medieval well head stands over it, which was erected in 1826 when the St. Katharine’s Order built a chapel in Regent’s Park, their church and hospital in the London Docks having been demolished to make way for dockland expansion.
The chapel was across the road from the St Katharine’s Lodge, that became a military hospital in WW1 and was bombed in WW2 and later demolished. Because the style of the ornamental well fits with the gothic twin towers of the church behind it, it was left in situ in 1948 when the St. Katharine’s Order moved back to the East End of London, and the Danish Church took over the chapel.
Jelling Stone: Next to the Pastor’s House of the Church is a replica of a runic stone. The original was placed at Jelling in Denmark around 980 by King Harald Bluetooth, the grandfather of King Canute.
In 1955 the Victoria and Albert Museum presented a copy to the Danish Church. This had been made and sent from Denmark for an exhibition of Danish historical and art treasures. The Jelling Stone symbolises ‘The coming of Christianity to Denmark, the beginning of Danish recorded history and the determination of Danes to resist aggression and remain an independent Kingdom’.
The inscription on it, translated, reads “Harald King made this memorial after Gorm his father and after Thyra his mother: that Harald who won for himself all Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christians”.
Mark Elliott February 2021