Saturday, 20 July 2013

St George, Esher

St George's is a delightful church tucked away in the centre of Esher. Now in the care of the Churches conservation Trust, it is a rare example of a post-reformation Tudor church with Stuart and Hanoverian fittings, and had important royal connections in the 19th century.

There has been a church here since at least the 13th century, but the present church was rebuilt in the 1540s, one of the first after the Reformation. The nave and chancel date from the period, and the oak roof beams are original. The woodem clock turret was added in the 17th century.

The Newcastle Pew - effectively a semi-private chapel - was added in 1725, for Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle, from Claremont, and his brother Henry Pelham of Esher Place. It is technically a chamber-pew, and the opening has a classical pediment of Corinthian columns. The carved reredos behind the altar also dates from this period. The north aisle and galleries were inserted in 1812. 

Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV (and heir to the throne until her death in 1817), her husband Leopold, first King of the Belgians, his niece the young Princess - later Queen - Victoria, with Prince Albert and their family, all worshipped at St George’s during the 19th century.

The church is now empty of pews, and is notable for a fine collection  of monuments. In the north aisle is the memorial to Queen Charlotte, given by the Duchess of Albany in 1910. A plaque on the west gallery commemorates Sir Thomas Lynch, created Governor of Jamaica in 1671. He was a successful sugar planter and introduced cane sugar to Britain. His wife, Lady Vere Lynch (d. 1681), is depicted in the oil painted memorial in the chancel. There are many memorial hatchments, and a fine triple-decker pulpit.

The church is open for visitors on summer Saturdays 11am-3pm, with a key available at other times Mondays to Saturdays during office hours.

4 Esher Park Avenue, Esher, Surrey KT10 9PX

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