St George’s Garrison Church in Woolwich removed from Heritage at Risk Register
The London Historic Buildings Trust (LHBT) has warmly welcomed Historic England’s decision to take St George’s Garrison Church in Woolwich off its Heritage at Risk Register. This move signals the success of a very long and complex restoration project managed by LHBT to conserve the remaining parts of this historic, WWII bombed building and return the site to public use. The project was made possible by funding principally from Historic England and The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the active support of the local community.
The Grade ll listed church, built in 1862 to designs by TH Wyatt, was destroyed by a V1 flying bomb in 1944. The site was placed on the Heritage at Risk Register in 2000. With encouragement from Historic England LHBT took on the project in 2010 and has since overseen a two-phase conservation programme of the remains, which has resulted in the preservation of a valuable historic site that is now leased to the Woolwich Garrison Church Trust and available to the public for the first time in a generation.
Diana Beattie OBE, FSA, Chair of the London Historic Buildings Trust, said: “The removal of the St. George’s Garrison Church from the Heritage at Risk register is the culmination of many years of hard work. It has been a complicated project with multiple stakeholders and we are delighted to have been able to play our part in bringing it to a successful conclusion. We could not have achieved this without the support of a team of dedicated experts and the strong backing of Historic England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and many other generous supporters. We’ve now handed it over to the Woolwich Garrison Church Trust so that this historic site, with the VC memorial to the Royal Artillery in the Chancel, has now found a new life as a resource that is actively used by the local community. This is a war memorial which is itself a victim of war.”
Tim Barnes QC, Chairman of the Woolwich Garrison Church Trust, said: “We cherish our local heritage and we would like to thank everyone who has worked to make this ambitious regeneration possible. We are already seeing the benefits of using the site once more; as a venue for regular religious services, as well as vibrant events organised by local people that celebrate the diversity of our community’s interests in today’s London. We’ve had a lot of active support from the Barracks and local groups and we look forward to the site only growing in value as a community resource in the years to come.”
Simon Buteux, Partnerships Team Leader at Historic England, said: “It is a major achievement to see St George’s Garrison Church removed from the Heritage at Risk Register, 20 years after it was first added. It’s thanks to the unwavering dedication and painstaking work of many individuals that this extraordinary site has a secure future, and we are glad Historic England has been able to play a part in its rescue. Heritage has a proven positive impact on people’s quality of life, and I look forward to seeing St George’s become a cherished place to many more people in the years ahead.”
Notes to editors
For more information, please contact Alice Yates on 07909 765599 or at email@example.com
Spokespeople from LHBT and WGCT are available for interview.
More information on St George’s Garrison Church is attached.
Pictures of the site are available on our website: https://londonhistoricbuildings.org.uk/index.php/projects-2-buildings/st-georges-garrison-church-press-images/
The London Historic Buildings Trust works with Historic England, local authorities and other partners and building owners to develop heritage-led regeneration projects throughout London, putting the needs of local communities at the heart of their work.
Formerly known as the Heritage of London Trust Operations (HOLTOPs), the Trust has almost 30 years’ experience of tackling challenging heritage at risk projects in London.
LHBT also works with key stakeholders to ensure that its projects are informed by the needs of the local community and result in positive social change and sensitive regeneration, as well as training, learning, volunteering and employment opportunities. It also works to support local communities in their aspirations to safeguard local buildings, offering professional guidance through training and consultancy services.
To find out more about LHBT’s projects go to londonhistoricbuildings.org.uk.
Woolwich Garrison Church Trust is the local based charity which has taken on a 25-year lease on St George’s and oversees its management and maintenance. They open the church every Sunday and are continuing to develop a programme of events and activities to develop St George’s as a valuable community space. For enquiries, contact: Tim Barnes on firstname.lastname@example.org
Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. It protects, champions and saves the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. It cares passionately about the stories these places tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all. It fundraises from individuals, charitable trusts and foundations and public sector bodies to enable us to deliver those aspects of our work that are not funded by our Government grant.
About The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.
The conservation of St George’s Garrison Church
We are extremely pleased to see the removal of St George’s Garrison Church from the Heritage at Risk register. The Grade II listed church was badly damaged during WWII and left ruinous. The conservation programme, spanning eight years, was principally funded by Historic England and has been managed by London Historic Buildings Trust since taking on the freehold in 2011.
St George’s Garrison is a project which has seen the collaboration of experts with members of the local community, who, with London Historic Building Trust’s support, founded the Woolwich Garrison Church Trust in 2016. St George’s is now a place for both the military and civilian communities in Woolwich to come together. For the first time in a generation, the site is now accessible to the public.
Designed by architect T H Wyatt, St George’s was built as a chapel for the nearby Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1862. It is significant for its ornate Italianate Romanesque style and spectacularly striking Salviati mosaics. The Church is home to the Victoria Cross Memorial which commemorates the losses of the Crimean War through to the middle of the Second World War and is detailed with an intricate mosaic of St George slaying the dragon by Salviati.
A testament to the bombing raids in London, St George’s was bombed in both World Wars. In 1944, the Church was largely destroyed by a flying V1 bomb which caused it to burn out. Restoration schemes were continually rejected by the War Office as unnecessary expenditure, and St George’s, though dilapidated, continued to function as a consecrated open-air church.
Due to long-standing issues caused by exposure to the elements, the Church was added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2000. Phase 1 of restoration work began in 2012, including the installation of a WC and kitchen; the re-fixing of the most fragile decorative features took place in 2015. To protect the mosaics and altar, a permanent fabric roof was erected in 2015, grant-aided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other funders. From 2017-2018, the West End Gates Project saw the completion and unveiling of specially commissioned security gates by HRH The Duke of Gloucester. For the past two years, ongoing extensive conservation work to complete Phase 2 of the project has included the repair and stabilisation of the timber altar and repair of all brickwork throughout the Church.
After nearly a decade, both phases of repairs are now complete, and the Church has been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register. A successful conclusion to many years of hard work and collaboration, St George’s is open to the public every Sunday and at other times by special arrangements, hosting services and events throughout the year.
St George’s Garrison Church, Woolwich
London Historic Building Trust – Timeline
2000 – St George’s added to the Heritage at Risk Register.
2010 – London Historic Buildings Trust introduced to the site by English Heritage.
2011 – London Historic Buildings Trust acquired the site from the Defence Estates.
2012 to 2016 – Phase 1 Project: works included the installation of WC & kitchen 2012; the erection of a new tensile roof structure over the east end; and the recording, conservation and re-fixing of the most fragile decorative features 2015. HLF Activities Project completed 2016.
2016 – The Woolwich Garrison Church Trust was formed with the support of London Historic Buildings Trust,to manage the St George’s site.
2017 to 2018 – West End Gates Project; specially commissioned gates designed by Peter Preston, Manifest Design Workshop, unveiled by HRH The Duke of Gloucester April 11th 2018.
2018 – 25-year Lease granted to the Woolwich Garrison Church Trust.
2018 to 2019 – Phase 2 Project: extensive conservation work to historic building fabric, including excavation of the crypt space.
2019 to 2020 – Ongoing conservation to the historic timber altar.
October 2020 – Removal from the Heritage at Risk Register.