Anglican worship has been celebrated in France from the sixteenth century onwards, initially only in the private chapel of the English Ambassador. During the English Civil War, Paris and St-Germain-en-Laye became notable centres of Anglican worship, centred around the exiled courts of Queen Henrietta Maria and the future Charles II, and priests were ordained. Following the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the court of James II at St-Germain-en-Laye and Bar-le-Duc in Lorraine, became centres for Anglican worship.
Following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Britons flocked to France. In 1824, the Reverend Lewis Way, Chaplain to the British Ambassador, established a chapel in the Rue Marboeuf. The building had been designed as a picture gallery but was adapted for worship. In 1842 it was demolished and, in 1844, replaced by another church at 10 rue Marboeuf. In 1883, this church was demolished and the site sold to the Ville de Paris.
A new site was purchased in the Rue Auguste Vacquerie (formerly the Rue des Bassins) and a temporary iron chapel erected. This was replaced by a large gothic building, begun in 1887 and consecrated in 1889. The site was redeveloped during the 1970s and the present building was consecrated on 11 February 1979.
Historical background indebted to Roger Greenacre, The Catholic Church in France: An Introduction, London: Council for Christian Unity, 1996.
The history of St. George's is the subject of a short guide "An Anglican Adventure" written by our Chaplain, Father Matthew Harrison, published recently (see below).
"An Anglican Adventure"
Fr. Matthew Harrison's long-awaited history of St. George's, Paris, "An Anglican Adventure" has been published and is now available from the Chaplaincy Office: Price 10 Euros + postage and packaging (2 Euros for France, 3.50 Euros for the UK and the rest of Europe, 5.20 Euros for the USA).
Fr. Matthew was Assistant Chaplain at St. George's from 1995 to 2002. He then had a period of sabbatical leave which gave him the ideal opportunity to research and write this book. St. George's Church is the oldest of the Anglican churches in Paris, dating back to its foundation in 1824. Fr. Matthew returned to St. George's as Chaplain in 2007.
He has brought to life a wonderful series of priests and, as he says in his introduction, "The story is set against the background of France and Europe's turbulent history: revolution and bloodshed and turmoil in the nineteenth century with 'regime change' in 1830, 1848, 1851 and 1870; and then the two world wars in the twentieth century, with Paris occupied from 1940 to 1944. It is the story of an Anglican church in an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country, and which has had an importance in the history of ecumenism out of all proportion to its size. A church whose priests and people have led the way in the progress of mutual knowledge and understanding between the churches".