The Undercroft at St George's

Work is now well advanced on reclaiming the Undercroft at St George’s. What follows is an outline of what has been and what will be involved.

St George’s was one of twelve churches that came into being as a result of a 1711 Act of Parliament which provided for the building of 50 churches in the then rapidly expanding London metropolis. The Act established a Commission to oversee the plan and among its guiding principles was that, wherever possible, the churches being built should address the population’s educational as well as religious needs. Historians have therefore taken the view that the substantial vaulted undercroft beneath St George’s, Hanover Square was originally intended to house a school. Sadly this never happened and, as a result, for the next 293 years this hidden jewel was only used for storage.

All that changed in June 2017 when the Parochial Church Council of St George’s, having deliberated on the matter for a number of years, voted unanimously in favour of an ambitious plan presented by the Rector and Church Wardens to bring the undercroft back into the active life of the church.

St George’s in the early 21st century is used for many purposes. It is of course first and foremost a fully functioning church. On Sunday mornings it attracts the support of a substantial congregation who come from far and wide to attend services. During the week rather fewer attend daily services but considerably more come into the church for a moment of quiet reflection or simply to look around a famous building or attend a concert. And for the past five years homeless men and women come to us for food vouchers redeemable at the nearby Cabman’s Shelter. But that is not the end of the story. With the opening in late 2018 of the Bond Street Elizabeth Line station in Hanover Square, numbers passing our doors are expected to increase still further.

By then the undercroft conversion will be complete and visitors to St George’s will benefit from greatly improved toilet facilities, disabled access (both into the church and down to the undercroft), meeting room facilities and, between Monday and Friday, a restaurant. Concert goers will be able to get interval drinks and bridal couples may even wish to hold their wedding reception in the undercroft. And on Sunday St George’s Little Dragons (St George’s Sunday School) will finally get their own space.

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