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.

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New Gates Unveiled

New gates unveiled at St George’s Garrison Church, Woolwich

Specially commissioned security gates, which commemorate the long and proud history of the Royal Artillery in Woolwich were unveiled by HRH The Duke of Gloucester at a Service at the St George’s Garrison Church on the morning of 11th April 2018.

The event was attended by Earl Howe from the Ministry of Defence and the French and German Military Attaches. The Master Gunner, Lt General Sir Andrew Gregory, and the Commanding Officers of 2 of the 3 military units comprising the Woolwich Station; Colonel Cross (Royal Artillery) and Colonel Moxey (Royal Anglians), all contributed to the Order of Service. Also in attendance were Major Wallace (Kings Troop, Royal Horse Artillery), Matthew Pennycook (local MP), Pieter van der Merwe (Deputy Lieutenant), Judge Kinch QC, (Recorder of Greenwich), Cllr Denise Hyland, (Leader of the Council), and Cllr Peter Brooks (Mayor).  Other supporters of the Church who were able to attend included Lord Hope (War Memorials Trust), Duncan Wilson (Historic England), Len Duvall (Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust), and Mark McKeague (Architectural Heritage Fund).

Tim Barnes QC, Chairman Woolwich Garrison Church Trust said, “The Garrison Church is a beautiful and historic place which our Trust is keen to see enjoyed by both the local and the wider community. These gates make a stunning new entrance to the Church and mark the continuing involvement of the Royal Artillery with the Church.”

The new gates stand at the west end of the Church and replace temporary solid wooden gates which prevented passers-by seeing into this unique and historic building.

The commission for the new security gates was awarded to Peter Preston of Manifest Design Workshop, Oxford, following a design competition. His design was inspired by the poem In

Flanders Field by Lt. Col. John McCrae:

(… and in the sky,

The larks, still bravely singing. Fly,

Scarce heard among the guns below.”) and incorporates the Crimea Cannon from the Royal Artillery Cap Badge in the lower section with the flowers of remembrance of Britain, (the poppy), France (the corn flower) and Germany (the forget-me-not) intertwined above, together with four gilded larks.

The design and creation of these gates was made possible by a substantial grant from the LIBOR Fund, with a separate substantial donation from the Royal Borough of Greenwich.  

The gates are painted Prussian blue and were made by father and son team, Charles and William Normandale of Wheely Down Forge, a well-known Hampshire blacksmith, using traditional methods and craft skills. Members of the Kings Troop, Royal Horse Artillery farriers, who are based in Woolwich, visited the forge and contributed to the fabrication of the ornamental flowers of remembrance. 

This project was delivered by the Heritage of London Trust Operations (HOLTOP), which took ownership of St George’s Garrison Church from Defence Estates in 2011. The Woolwich Garrison Church Trust (WGCT) which has a 25-year lease of St George’s and will be overseeing its management and maintenance, and the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

Diana Beattie Chairman of Heritage for London Trust Operations (HOLTOP) said, “We became involved with the Garrison Church when it was on the Heritage at Risk Register. With assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, HOLTOP commissioned the new arched tensile roof over the east end of the Church and the restoration of some of the mosaics. During 2018 HOLTOP is carrying out ambitious further works to the fabric of the Church and the altar. We share the ambitions of the Woolwich Garrison Church Trust to maintain the Church as a place for regular religious Services while at the same time keeping it open for a variety of other uses.”

The garden is also home to the Greenwich Memorial which commemorates the eleven men from Woolwich and Greenwich who have died on active service since the end of World War Two or as a result of terrorist activities.

The Church is open every Sunday to the public and at other times by special arrangements. 

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St George's Garrison Church in Woolwich, with its modern canopy roof and stunning mosaics, survives as an evocative ruin. 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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