Located on the High Street in Belfast, it is the oldest Church of Ireland church in Belfast.
The church stands on what had been a fording place where the River Lagan and River Farset met. A structure known as The Chapel of the Ford was located on this site as a satellite of the main main parish church at Shankill. It was constructed here for those waiting to cross the mud flats at low tide. The earliest mention of a place of worship existing on this site is in the papal taxation rolls of 1306.
In 1613, when Belfast received its Charter to become a Corporation or town, the Chapel at the Ford became known as the Corporation Church. It became the main parish church for the area.
When William of Orange passed through Belfast on his way from Carrickfergus to the Battle of the Boyne, he attended a service at the church.
By the late 18th century, however, the church had fallen into disrepair and the Earl of Chichester, the dominant local landowner, gave land for a new parish church for Belfast to be built on a more expansive site a few hundred metres away on Donegall Street. This was known as St Annes and this church would later be replaced by St Anne’s Cathedral.
However, by the 1800s, the growth of industrial Belfast necessitated a second Anglican church being built, and the present day St. George’s was built on the old site, opening in 1816.
The church was designed by John Bowden of Dublin in 1811. The foundation stone was laid in June 1813 by the Earl of Massereene and the church opened in June 1816. In 1865 the ceiling was removed and the trusses exposed and decorated by architect W. J. Barre, who also added a new pulpit in 1867.
Throughout the 19th century, the church had a series of rectors known for their flamboyant style and music, and in the early 20th century, St. George’s developed its distinct High Church ethos.
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