Illustrated history of one Belfast’s finest churches – St George’s, near the Albert Clock

The front of St George's Church on High Street in central Belfast, seen here around 1890
The front of St George's Church on High Street in central Belfast, seen here around 1890

The story of one of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful churches has been recorded in a new book.

The hardback publication charts the history of St George’s, in the heart of Belfast.

The front cover of Professor Brian M. Walker's book on St George's Anglican church

The front cover of Professor Brian M. Walker's book on St George's Anglican church

The Church of Ireland parish has this year been celebrating 200 years since its establishment in 1816.

Designed by John Bowden, it is located on High Street, beside the Albert Clock, where the Rivers Lagan and Farset met. The Georgian building, with its grand pillared portico at the front, was constructed on a site where Christians worshipped for at least 500 years before the completion of the existing church.

The book, which is full of illustrations and pictures, has been written by the distinguished historian, Professor Brian M Walker, formerly a lecturer at Queen’s University in Belfast. An Anglican himself, he was an editor of the 2013 book ‘Church of Ireland: an illustrated history’.

This volume on St George’s is more than 200 pages long, and includes photographs of its elaborate interior.

Canon Edgar Turner and Bishop Arthur Butler survey bomb damage at St George's Church in central Belfast, 1973. The church was damaged many times in bomb blasts

Canon Edgar Turner and Bishop Arthur Butler survey bomb damage at St George's Church in central Belfast, 1973. The church was damaged many times in bomb blasts

The book records the two physical threats to the very existence of the church: the 1941 Nazi blitz on Belfast, which damaged nearby buildings, and then the Troubles.

In 1972 alone, St George’s was damaged nine times by bomb blasts.

St George’s holds traditional services that in style are considered to be the most ‘high Anglican’ in Northern Ireland.

Its musical reputation is widely respected. Dr Walker explains in the book how it can be traced back to the appointment of Edward Bunting as its organist in 1817.

Professor Brian Walker, centre, at St Anne's Cathedral at the launch of a previous book he helped edit on the Church of Ireland with, left, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, and Dr Claude Costecalde, right. 
Picture By Arthur Allison, Pacemaker

Professor Brian Walker, centre, at St Anne's Cathedral at the launch of a previous book he helped edit on the Church of Ireland with, left, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, and Dr Claude Costecalde, right. Picture By Arthur Allison, Pacemaker

The choir performed at Thursday evening’s launch of the book, after a talk by Professor Walker and Fintan Mullan of the Ulster Historical Foundation. The audience included the current rector, Rev Brian Stewart, who has been in the post since 1994.

• ‘A History of St George’s Church Belfast: Two Centuries of Faith, Worship and Music,’ £19.99, has been published by the Ulster Historical Foundation