St. George’s Anglican (sometimes called the English church) is one of a handful of non-Catholic churches in Venice.
Anglican services have been held in various locations in Venice for over 400 years. In 1889, a committee of English residents of Venice was formed to locate a permanent home for their church; they acquired a former glass warehouse in Campo San Vio, and the church was dedicated in 1892. A short history is here on the church’s website.
Two of the church founders were Sir Henry Layard and his wife (Lady Layard also gave this street shrine to Venice). There's a chapter about the Layards in John Julius Norwich's wonderful book, Paradise of Cities: Venice in the Nineteenth Century.
I’ve said before that it’s very cool that there are Venetian churches of different denominations dedicated to George the dragon-fighting saint. In addition to this Anglican church, there’s the Greek Orthodox church and of course, San Giorgio Maggiore and the fantastic San Giorgio degli Schiavoni.
In 2008 when St. George’s Anglican celebrated 400 years in Venice, they had various anniversary fundraisers to raise money to restore the church. One of their projects was a St. George scavenger hunt where donors got a book of clues and set off to find other images of St. George and the Dragon on the streets of Venice. The internet has made finding such things much easier, but the scavenger hunt would have been fun.
I haven’t been inside St. George’s. I’d love to see its stained glass windows honoring various esteemed Brits, including John Ruskin. These windows were recently restored by Venice in Peril and there’s info about them on their website. The church’s altarpiece is currently being restored; see a photo here.
Every time I walk by St. George’s, I remember Jan Morris’ description of the ladies who attended this church:
“The pink-cheeked, tight-curled, lavender-scented, pearl-necklaced, regimentally brooched ladies that so admirably represent, year in, year out, east and west, the perennial spirit of England abroad.” (The World of Venice)
Ha, so funny. Morris lived in the Venice in the 1950’s so I’m not sure those ladies are still at St. George’s. But I did stumble across an entertaining website called Ship of Fools where “mystery worshippers” attend church all over the world and write anonymous reviews of the services. St. George’s was reviewed in 2008; the review is positive overall even though the service is described as “stiff upper lip.” :)
The relief of St. George and the Dragon over the door is by Napoleone Martinuzzi (1892-1977) and is a memorial to English WWI soldiers. Martinuzzi, a sculptor and glassblower from Murano, also created the war memorial on Murano next to the basilica of SS. Maria e Donato, right underneath its campanile. Isn't it odd that a Venetian would name their son Napoleon?!
Monument to the Fallen, Murano, 1927
To Visit this Church:
Services on Sunday at 10:30 AM
Open at other times for concerts, often with visiting choirs from the UK - see website for schedule.