St George's, Hanover Square

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St George's, Hanover Square, is an Anglican church in central London, built in the early 18th century. The land on which the church stands was donated by General William Steuart, who laid the first stone in 1721. The church was designed by John James and was constructed under a project to build fifty new churches around London (the Queen Anne Churches). It is situated in Hanover Square, near Oxford Circus, in what is now the City of Westminster. Owing to its Mayfair location, it has been a frequent venue of high society weddings.

Ecclesiastical parish

A civil parish of St George Hanover Square, and an ecclesiastical parish, were created in 1724 from part of the ancient parish of St Martin in the Fields.<ref name="Youngs">Template:Cite book</ref> The boundaries of the ecclesiastical parish were adjusted in 1830, 1835 and 1865 when other parishes were carved out of it. The ecclesiastical parish still exists today and forms part of the Deanery of Westminster St Margaret in the Diocese of London.


The church was constructed in 1721–25, funded by the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches, and designed by John James,<ref name=westminster/> who had been one of the two surveyors to the commission since 1716.<ref name=downes>Template:Cite book</ref> Its portico, supported by six Corinthian columns, projects across the pavement. There is a tower just behind the portico, rising from the roof above the west end of the nave.<ref name=westminster/>

The interior is divided into nave and aisles by piers, square up to the height of the galleries, then rising to the ceiling in the form of Corinthian columns. The nave has a barrel vault, and the aisles transverse barrel vaults.<ref name=westminster>Template:Cite book</ref>


The church was a fashionable place of worship to have weddings. It was here that Theodore Roosevelt, the future US President, aged 28, married Edith Carow, aged 25, on 2 December 1886. Henry Holland (architect) married Capability Brown's daughter Bridget on 11 February 1773 in the church. John Nash (architect) married Mary Ann Bradley on 17 December 1798 in the church. One famous London marriage involved the architect John Shaw Senior (1776–1832) to Elizabeth Hester Whitfield in 1799. Other notable people married there include the Eccentric Missionary, Joseph Wolff, in 1827. 2 February 1858 saw the marriage of Ann Jeffrey and Samuel Parkes who won the Victoria Cross in the Charge of the Light Brigade for saving the life of Trumpeter Hugh Crawford.Template:Citation needed In October 1899, Alfreda Ernestina Albertina Bowen, daughter of Sir George Ferguson Bowen and Contessa Diamantina di Roma, married Robert Lydston Newman.<ref name="freebmd"></ref> Elliot Allard, OBE married Pamela Wigan, of St. John's Wood, maternal grandmother of Shawn Elliot Atkinson, partner of Edwards Wildman Palmer and founder of Dumb Drum Records and great granddaughter of James Wigan, of Mortlake prior owner and founder of Mortlake Brewery, which latterly became the Stag Brewery.

Burial ground

St George's originally sat in open countryside in the middle of its own burial ground. Its land was consecrated for burials in 1765 and closed for burials in 1854, when London's city churchyards were closed to protect public health. Burials at St Gerge's included Mrs Ann Radcliffe (1764–1823), an influential female writer of the "Gothic Novel", and the Revd. Laurence Sterne (1713-1768), abolitionist and author of Tristram Shandy.

During the Great War the ground was covered with 4' of top soil and used for growing vegetables. In 1969 the burial ground was cleared to enable land to be sold off for redevelopment. A skull, part anatomised, was conjectured to be Sterne's and a skeleton separated from the other remains to be transferred to Coxwold churchyard by the Laurence Sterne Trust. 11,500 further remains were taken to West Norwood Cemetery and cremated, for burial there.

In popular culture

In the musical My Fair Lady, Alfred Doolittle (Stanley Holloway), having just been provided with an inheritance and having to move into "middle-class morality", invites his daughter Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) to his wedding at this church. Following the invitation, he and his fellows sing "Get Me to the Church on Time".

The church is mentioned as the venue for the forthcoming marriage of Iris Henderson in The Lady Vanishes (1938 film).


File:Saint Georges Church Organ, Hanover Square.jpg
The organ in 2009 (since rebuilt)

Handel was a regular worshipper at St George's, which is now home to an annual Handel Festival. St. George's has a full-time professional choir and a strong choral tradition and is a venue for classical music concerts. A Restoration Fund Appeal was launched on Trinity Sunday 2006 to raise a total of five million pounds, with a target of one and a half million pounds needed for the first phase of essential restoration work to the fabric of the church. A recent concert series in support of the Restoration Fund was supported by the William Smith International Performance Programme and featured solo piano performances by students from the Royal College of Music, including Ren Yuan, Ina Charuashvili, Meng Yan Pan and the London debut of Maria Nemtsova of Russia.

The church is one of the two main bases of the Orpheus Sinfonia, an orchestra of players recently graduated from music colleges. Template:Clear



External links

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