About this church
The Commissioners for the Fifty New Churches Act of 1711 realised that, due to rapid development in the Bloomsbury area during the latter part of the 17th and early part of the 18th centuries, the area (then part of the parish of St Giles in the Fields) needed to be split off and given a parish church of its own.
They appointed Nicholas Hawksmoor, a pupil and former assistant of Sir Christopher Wren, to design and build this church, which he then did between 1716 and 1731. This was the sixth and last, of his London churches. St George's was consecrated on 28 January 1730 by Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London.
The Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope was baptised here in 1824. Richard Meux Benson, founder of the first Anglican religious order for men, Society of St John the Evangelist, the ‘Cowley Fathers’, was also baptised in the church. The funeral of Emily Davison, the suffragette who died when she was hit by the King's horse during the 1913 Derby, took place here that same year. Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia attended a controversial requiem for the dead of the Abyssinian war in 1937.
The famous stepped tower is influenced by Pliny the Elder's description of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and topped with a statue of King George I in Roman dress. Its statues of fighting lions and unicorns symbolise the recent end of the First Jacobite Rising.
These symbols would’ve been well known at the time because of the popular nursery rhyme; 'The lion and the unicorn were fighting for the crown, the lion beat the unicorn all around the town'.
The Portico is based on that of the Temple of Bacchus in Baalbek, Lebanon. The tower is depicted in William Hogarth's well known engraving ‘Gin Lane’ (1751) and Charles Dickens used St George's as the setting for ‘The Bloomsbury Christening’ in Sketches by Boz.