St. George’s, Lisbon
Getting to St. George’s
The Church is located within the British Cemetery (known as “Cemitério Inglês”, in Portuguese), near the Basílica da Estrela.
Metro: Rato (red line) + 10 to 15-minute walk uphill
Buses: 709, 720, 738 (stops just by/opposite Cemetery entrance)
Trams: 25, 28 (stops in front of Basílica da Estrela)
Taxi: Ask for British or English Cemetery – “Cemitério Inglês” (Estrela)
History of St. George’s
The Anglican Church in Lisbon came into formal existence on 10 July 1654, when a treaty was signed at Westminster between Oliver Cromwell and a representative of King João IV of Portugal. In Article 19 it stated that English residents in Portugal should be free to “profess their own Religion in private houses, … and that finally a Place be allowed for them to bury their dead”. The first recorded Chaplain for the English community in Lisbon was the Rev. Zachary Craddock, who was only 23 when he took up duties in 1656. He was only permitted to conduct services in the residence of the British Envoy, Philip Meadows. Despite opposition from the Inquisition, the Consul’s residence later came to be used for services.
It was only when the Inquisition was suppressed, in 1821, following the adoption of a Constitutional Monarchy, that the first Anglican church was constructed on the site of the Military Burial Ground in Estrela, which had been in existence since 1721. Known today as the British Cemetery, there are also a few non-Christians buried there, as its purpose was as a burial ground for all that were not Roman Catholics, not exclusively Protestants. The Church was completed and dedicated to St George the Martyr in 1822, some 168 years after the Treaty had been signed at Westminster. The Chaplain at the time was the Rev. Thomas Hurford Siely. Disaster struck a few years later, on the 8 April 1886, when a fire broke out at 2 o’clock in the morning and the church was burned to the ground. The present building took three years to complete and was consecrated on St Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1889, by Bishop Sandford of Gibraltar. The Chaplain at the time was Canon Thomas Godfrey Pembroke Pope, whose efforts were key to raising the necessary funds.
A number of notable stained glass windows were donated to the church, the oldest being on the north wall, near the pulpit, in memory of the son of Canon Pope and his wife, Luisa Anne, who was killed in a fall from his horse in 1895, aged 13. On the south wall, the two adjacent stained glass windows depicting David and Solomon are in memory of Frederick Augustus Davidson, who died in 1897. The magnificent window in the War Memorial Chapel in memory of the first British Minister in Lisbon with the rank of ambassador, Sir Lancelot Carnegie (1861-1939), includes the Royal Arms of both the United Kingdom and Portugal.
The idea of uniting the separate Chaplaincies of Lisbon and Estoril was first discussed in 1976, on the retirement of the then longstanding Chaplain at St Paul’s, Canon John Humphries. The formal fusion of the two came about in 1984, with the creation of the Greater Lisbon Chaplaincy of St George and St Paul, under one Chaplain, with one Church Council and one set of accounts. After lengthy discussion and negotiation with local authorities, a revised constitution of the joint Chaplaincy was approved and registered. In this process the Chaplaincy’s official designation changed to “The Anglican Church of St George and St Paul, Lisbon”.
Over 80 incumbents have served both churches since the Rev. Zachary Craddock first took up office in Lisbon in 1656. The longest serving Chaplain was Canon Thomas Godfrey Pope, of St George’s, who served for 35 years from 1867-1902, followed by Canon John Humphreys, of St Paul’s, who served for 27 years from 1957-1980.
Today the congregation of St. George’s is made up of many nationalities. Some members have been resident in the Lisbon area for many years. Others may be living in the area for shorter periods, on fixed term contracts, studying, or doing business. There is also a regular flow of visitors from many countries.
As well as the principal 11.30 a.m. Sunday Family Eucharist Service, a Modern Worship Service is held on one Sunday afternoon each month. On other days, Evensong is normally celebrated on Tuesdays at 18.30 and a Eucharist on most Thursdays (except in August). Groups meet regularly for Christian study and fellowship in the evening.
St. George’s church has a strong musical tradition with a fine 19th-century organ, which will be undergoing restoration in 2020. The building has excellent acoustics. We welcome visiting choirs and hold concerts from time to time. The annual Remembrance Sunday Service is well attended by the British Community, as is the Christmas Carol Service led by a choir of members of both congregations and guest singers.
Further details of current activities at both churches can be found in Notices.