GreaterLondonWHITECHAPELStGeorgeGermanLutheranChurch(mikefahertyCC-BY-SA2.0)1 MikeFaherty

St George German Lutheran Church

St George's has changed little since 1763, when it was established in the immigrant neighbourhood of Whitechapel by German refugees seeking religious asylum in London and working mainly in the sugar trade.

Whitechapel, Greater London

Opening times

Open by arrangement for group and individual visits.

Address

Alie Street
Whitechapel
Greater London
E1 8EB

The church is handsome and majestic yet sober, with its dark burnished wood offset by pristine white walls and small stained glass windows.

In its original architecture and construction, the church is not evidently German. Nor was the manner of its worship. Its first pastor, Dr Gustav Anton Wachsel, fanned controversy by conducting services in English, discharging the German choir in favour of 'violins, trumpets, bassoons and kettledrums' and supposedly assaulting the organ bellows blower. All dignity is restored, however, at the south front of the church, even though it has lost its crowning features: the clock, the bell turret and a large weathervane in the shape of St George and the Dragon.

The interior retains remarkable and mostly original furnishings, including a complete set of box pews. Deep galleries standing on eight Tuscan timber columns still loom overhead around three sides of the building. This is a simple Protestant layout; there is no central aisle.

As if to herald the supreme importance of the sermon, the magnificent high central double decker pulpit stands behind a railed altar and is flanked by two carved timber commandment boards in German. In a prominent position at this end hangs the coat of arms of George III, showing the mark of loyalty normally adopted by Anglican churches.

During the Nazi period, St George's Pastor, Julius Rieger, set up a relief centre for Jewish refugees from Germany, who were provided with references to travel to England. The leading theologian and anti-Nazi activist Dietrich Bonhoeffer was also associated with the work of St George's when Bonhoeffer was pastor at the nearby St Paul's church from 1933 to 1935.

From 1763 until 1996, St George's was a place of Lutheran worship; now it is the headquarters of the Historic Chapels Trust and is used for organ recitals.

  • Social heritage stories

  • National heritage here

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Captivating architecture

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Train station within 250m

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Parking within 250m

  • On street parking at church

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Dog friendly

  • Café within 500m

  • Bus stop within 100m

  • Accessible toilets nearby

  • Historic Chapels Trust

Contact information

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