Tuesday, 19 September 2023

I have been to … St George’s Garrison Church, Woolwich

On Sunday afternoon, Sue and I went to St George’s Garrison Church, Woolwich, to attend the Commonwealth & Gurkha Garden fundraising afternoon cream tea.

The church served as the Woolwich garrison’s church until it was hit by a V1 on 13th July 1944. The building caught fire and the roof fell in, and once the site was secured and a temporary roof was erected, the building remained unused. During the 1950s and 1960s the building was neglected and vandalised. The upper parts of the walls were demolished in 1970 and a canopy was erected over the apse to protect the area around the altar. In the same year a memorial garden was created onsite.

In 1973 the building was listed, and in 2011 it was handed over to the Heritage of London Trust, who obtained a match-funded grant of £400,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for £800,000 of conservation work that included the building a large canopy roof over the eastern end of the church.

Since 2016 the church has been run by a local group, the Woolwich Garrison Church Trust, and as part of their continued development of the site, they are raising money to have an accessible Commonwealth & Gurkha Garden built next to the building. Woolwich and Plumstead have the largest Gurkha community in the UK and they have given lots of financial support to this project, and Sunday’s event was part of the ongoing fundraising efforts.

The plan of the Commonwealth and Gurkha Garden. The design has been produced by Juliet Sargeant, an award-winning garden designer.

Despite the threat of rain, there was a good turnout, and the afternoon tea was excellent. We arrived just after 3.00pm and stayed until 5.00pm. During our stay I took several photographs and we both spoke to the chair of the Woolwich Garrison Church Trust, Tim Barnes KC, about the possibility of us giving the trust a donation.

The uncovered part of the church has been laid out as a garden, and is regularly used for all sorts of events and functions.
The food tent attracted lots of attention ... and the cream tea that was available was superb.
Due to the inclement weather, most attendees sat at tables in the covered area near to the altar..
A display of artist's impressions of the new Commonwealth & Gurkha Garden was placed in front of the altar.
Above the altar is a mosaic depicting the church's patron saint, St George. On either side of the mosaic are plaques showing the names of the members of the Royal Artillery and Indian Artillery who won the Victoria Cross ...
... from 1854 to 1864 ...
... and from 1880 to 1945.


  1. A most interesting place that I remember as being very over grown and it a poor state. I am glad it has been restored and is in use again.

    1. PDL,

      The Trust has done a lot to turn the site into both a memorial and a useful community asset. It’s been used for civil weddings, garden parties, receptions, and as an outdoor cinema during the summer months. A far better use of the building than letting it remain a ruin.

      All the best,


  2. What a fine restoration or even resurrection of a site than I knew nothing of. What is left of the church is very fine and amazed at how many VC's the artillery chaps won.

    1. Steve J.,

      The trust has done an excellent job. If they hadn’t taken it on, the site would no doubt have become an eyesore and a derelict haven for graffiti artists and drug users.

      There are other memorials on the walls, including one to Lee Rigby, who was murdered about half a mile from the site.

      All the best,



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