St. George’s Church, Bloomsbury
The World Monuments Fund (WMF) returned a newly restored St. George's Church, Bloomsbury, London, to its parish on October 5 in a special service of thanksgiving led by the Right Reverend Richard Chartres, the current bishop of London, in the presence of HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, Robert Tuttle, US Ambassador to Great Britain, and other distinguished guests. The restoration work, which began in 2002 and cost $15.6/£9.2 million, is one of WMF’s most comprehensive undertakings in its 40 year history. Built between 1720 and 1730, the church is considered by many to be famed Baroque architect Nicholas Hawksmoor’s ecclesiastical masterpiece. Yet, as recently as 2002, St. George’s, Bloomsbury, was cited on the World Monuments Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites, following its inclusion in English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk Register. The church is also a Grade I listed building (of exceptional interest), but the resources of the small parish were inadequate to address the significant mounting challenges posed by the church’s declining physical condition. Thanks to a posthumous gift of $8.6/£5.4 million from the Paul Mellon Estate, given in recognition of Mr. Mellon’s love of British culture, the newly restored St. George’s, Bloomsbury, which is located near the British Museum, will reinvigorate this formerly rundown area. The Heritage Lottery Fund also contributed a major grant of $5.2/£2.84 million.