History of St. George’s
The seed to plant an Anglican church in Lisbon was planted 10 July, 1654, when a treaty was signed at Westminster between Oliver Cromwell and the representative of King João IV of Portugal, in which Article 19 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, and despite opposition from the Inquisition, the Consul’s residence later came to be used for services.
It was not until the Inquisition was finally disbanded in 1821, that the first Anglican church was constructed on the site of the Military Burial Ground in Estrela, which had been in existence since 1721, now known as the British Cemetery, although Jews and Muslims are also buried there, as its origins were as a protestant burial ground. 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 2am and the church was burned to the ground. The present church 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.
The church was donated several notable stained glass windows, 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 to join together the two 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. This came to pass 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.
Today the congregation of St. George’s is comprised of many nationalities, many of whom are resident in the Lisbon area, and others who may be “passing though” Lisbon on business or academic studies, and of course visitors.
As well as the principal 11.30 am Sunday Family Eucharist Service, a Modern Worship Service is held on one Sunday afternoon each month and Evensong is normally celebrated on Tuesdays at 18.30 and a Eucharist on most Thursdays (except in August). Christian study groups meet on a weekly basis in the evening.
St. George’s church has a strong musical tradition with a fine 19th century organ which will shortly be restored. The building has excellent acoustics, welcomes visiting choirs, and concerts are held 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.