Bombed during World War II, St George’s Garrison Church survives as an evocative ruin with recently conserved mosaics, and a modern canopy roof, now available for all to enjoy.

Garden > Greenwich and the Commonwealth and Gurkhas

The Commonwealth and Gurkhas in Greenwich today

The Royal Borough of Greenwich has a richly diverse population.

The most up to date published census (2011) shows Royal Borough of Greenwich residents born outside England come from many Commonwealth countries and from Nepal (mainly Gurkha families).

The Commonwealth countries include (in numerical order): Nigeria, India, Ghana, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, Cyprus, Australia, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Malaysia, New Zealand, Canada, Camaroon, Zambia, The Gambia, United Republic of Tanzania, Guyana, Barbados, Singapore, Rwanda, Malta, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, Fiji, Mozambique, Brunei Darussalem, Seychelles, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Malawi, Botswana, Antigua and Barbuda, Namibia, St Kitts and Nevis, and Papua New Guinea.

The Gurkha community in Greenwich numbers some 4,000 people.

In addition we have second and subsequent generation residents with family origins in the above countries.

The Caribbean Social Forum is based in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and was founded by one of the trustees of the WGCT.  The Forum was started in January 2015 and in 2017 won the National Diversity Award to the Community Organisation which has done most in the fields of Race, Religion and Faith. The Forum is for those over 50 (the mature children of the Windrush generation). It meets every week at the Tramshed Theatre in Woolwich and has 600 registered members, mostly with roots in the Caribbean. The Forum summer party at the Garrison Church is one of the highlights of our calendar.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintains 3 principal cemeteries in the Borough. In Greenwich Cemetery there are 556 graves for Commonwealth Soldiers who died in World War 1 and 124 for those in World War 2. In Charlton Cemetery there are 59 headstones to Commonwealth Service people who died in the Great War and 55 to those who died in the Second World War.  The Greenwich Royal Naval Cemetery commemorates 19 sailors from the Commonwealth who died in World War 1 and 2 who died in World War 2.

The continuing links are shown by the recruitment of Commonwealth students at the University of Greenwich. The University has registered alumni in 49 of the 54 Commonwealth countries (including the UK). There are around 23,000 alumni from those countries. Currently the University has 2,400 students from 34 Commonwealth countries (not including the UK.)

There is a Commonwealth Way in the Abbey Wood area of the Borough with many residents of Black African, Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin.

The Commonwealth Building in Woolwich houses a number of businesses. There are an enticing number of Nepali restrurants in the Borough, current Gurkhas serve in the Army some staioned here, and former Gurkha soldiers have found employment in Greenwich.

The enduring links of the Royal Borough of Greenwich with the Commonwealth and the Nepali Gurkhas are strong and make the location of the Garrison Church for a Commonwealth & Gurkha Garden particularly fitting.

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St George's Garrison Church in Woolwich, with its modern canopy roof and stunning mosaics, is both an evocative ruin and a contemporary space. Designed by Thomas H Wyatt in an Italian-Romanesque style, the Church was built between 1862-63 to serve the Royal Artillery in Woolwich. Today it is run by a local group, the Woolwich Garrison Church Trust who are committed to making it available for all to visit and enjoy. Directly opposite the Barracks in Woolwich, South East London, come and enjoy its beauty and peaceful garden.

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