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Garrison Church of St George

Case study: Grand Depot Road, Greenwich, London SE18 6XN (London)

List entry number: 1078985

St George’s Garrison Church building at risk, detail of St George mosaic
The mosaic of St George and the Dragon is the centrepiece of the decorative apse at St George’s Garrison Church. With funding from Historic England, the mosaic has now been meticulously conserved.

Background and history

St George's Church was built in 1863 to serve the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich. It was an ambitious building, designed by Thomas Henry Wyatt in an Italianate style. Most impressive was the richly decorated interior, with mosaics, inlaid marble and tiled inscriptions around the apse. The centrepiece was the mosaic of George and the Dragon. This was flanked by marble tablets commemorating artillery men awarded the Victoria Cross.

St George's Church served the garrison community for many years and even hosted royal visits. But much of the building was destroyed by a V2 flying bomb in 1944. Fortunately the apse with its rich decoration survived. After the war, what remained of the church was consolidated as a roofless ruin.

In 2011 St George's was acquired by Heritage of London Trust Operations (HOLT Ops). The trust has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the site.

St George’s Garrison Church building at risk, interior detail
There are still significant challenges at St George’s Garrison Church. The marble and decorative tiles in the apse are in urgent need of attention. Additional funding will need to be secured for these repairs.

Is it at risk?

The decorative finishes at St Georges, once safely housed inside the church, have been exposed to the elements for 70 years. A temporary tin roof provided some protection, but the mosaics, marble and tiles became increasingly worn and loose. This was largely caused by prolonged water and frost damage.

St George's Garrison Church was therefore added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2000.

St George’s Garrison Church building at risk, east end under new tensile roof
Only a fragment of St George’s Garrison Church remains, following bomb damage in 1944. A new permanent roof, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will protect the decorative mosaics in the apse.

What's the current situation?

A permanent roof has now been installed over the east end of the former church. This is thanks to the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as other funders. A toilet and kitchen have also been fitted at the west end. These make the site useable for small scale community events.

The new tensile roof will protect the surviving mosaics. With funding from Historic England, these mosaics have been meticulously conserved. Works were carried out by a team of experts, with the help of two apprentices. The tiles were carefully cleaned and loose elements re-secured. The tops of the walls were also repaired to prevent further water ingress. The panel of George and the Dragon is once again the centrepiece of the site.

Despite this progress, there are still significant challenges at St George's. The decorative marble and tiles in the apse require urgent attention. Further funding will need to be secured for these repairs.

Historic England will continue to work closely with HOLT Ops and the Friends Group. We will ensure that St George's Garrison Church continues to serve the local community as a place of commemoration.

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