River city people: buying a boat to live on in London.

Picture of Simon Stone

Simon Stone

A home on a boat in London is a life like no other. Even in a riverside apartment, there’s simply not the sensation of being afloat, surrounded by water and with the view overhead completely filled by sky.

Aside from the physical sensations and surroundings, there’s also the very real sense of community that London’s moorings offer. Like-minded souls who share a passion for nautical life, and the liberation from neighbours above and below, leasehold mandates and rules about what colour you’re allowed to paint your front door. Life on a boat is freedom, even at a permanent mooring.

On top of all that, there’s a tangible financial benefit to buying a boat in London because they’re exempt from Stamp Duty – quite a significant saving given property prices in the capital. On a £600,000 vessel the saving is £20,000!

One of the best river communities in London is Hermitage Moorings, less than 10 minutes walk east of Tower Bridge and with a fine view upstream of The City and downstream of Canary Wharf. The project was conceived by an avid group of enthusiasts over a period of six years, and a filmmaker member of the community created a 30-minute film, A Sense of Place, which you can view here.

The location of Hermitage Moorings has some of the capital’s most significant and historic warehouse conversions as neighbours. Wander along the cobbled Wapping High Street between St Katherine Docks and Limehouse Basin and you’ll encounter gantries overhead as you pass the delights of Execution Dock, Phoenix Wharf, King Henry’s Wharves and many more, now home to some of London’s most authentic loft apartments.

Historic riverside pubs include The Town of Ramsgate, The Captain Kidd and The Prospect of Whitby, all with their own motley histories and chequered pasts. There’s great dining including seafood at Smith’s and a pair of fantastic Italians in Il Bordello and Da Nonna, with plenty of coffee action at Urban Barista and De Bella Nonna. For home chefs, the local legend that is Hussey Butchers is just up the road, and there’s a Waitrose about 5 minutes walk from the boats.

But enough of life on land. Let’s get back on the water and what really sets Hermitage Moorings apart: its ambition “to ensure traditional river craft (e.g. sailing barges, tugs and motor craft) remain part of the Wapping landscape for future generations.”

What this means is that every boat here is a real slice of maritime history, with a fascinating collection from England and the Continent, most notably the Netherlands whose 18th-century barges are legendary among boating types – their fantail timbers and heaven-high masts cutting a brazenly nautical dash into the skyline.

With that, let’s take a look at look a couple of wonderful boats that we currently have for sale at this unique London location.

Twee Artsen.

Twee Artsen is Dutch for Two Doctors), not remotely coincidentally because the boat is indeed owned by two doctors! This historic Dutch barge extends to 1,320sq ft, with a length of 28.3m and a beam of 5m, with a light-filled interior that offers a pleasant flow between the living and sleeping areas.

Inside it’s packed with nautical character and you’ll find two bedrooms, two living rooms, a kitchen, bathroom, cloakroom and a wheelhouse that provides additional living space/informal eating area. There’s also a large storage area that could make another bedroom.

Twee Artsen is for sale at £600,000, a price with a stamp duty exemption of £20,000.

Click here to see more images and information. 


Quite possibly the most well-appointed historic barge currently on the River Thames. With a length of 31.43m, a width of 6.10m, and a height of 4.2m, this iconic Dutch sailing vessel has been impeccably refurbished and fitted to provide an extremely comfortable and high-specification home of 1,797 sq ft.

The subject of a three-year refit by the esteemed Dutch shipbuilders, SRF, the interior includes two/three cabins, two with en-suite bathrooms and one which could be used as a guest suite or staff quarters. There are flexible and spacious living areas, a high-end kitchen and dining room, a gym/utility room, a wheelhouse/reception room and a large welcoming entrance hall that doubles as a study. There’s also an impeccable engine room with state-of-the-art domestic services, and plenty of thoughtful storage.

Marinus is for sale at £975,000, a price with a stamp duty exemption of £41,250.

Click here to see more images and information. 

We also recently sold another barge at Hermitage Moorings that was our own introduction to the community.

ROCK is a wonderful old 28-metre English barge with 7 berths across 4 cabins. Built in 1961, the steel former wheat cargo vessel is one of the few surviving and fully operational Medway Coasters left in the UK.

You can still view the description, gallery and floorplans of ROCK here.

Are you already looking to buy a boat in London? Or do you have one that you’re looking to sell? Wherever you’re at, why not get in touch? Call us on 020 7917 9995 or email [email protected].

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