St George’s is one of only two churches in England designed by FC Eden FSA FRIBA, an authority on Italian art and architecture. The other is St John’s in Harpenden. The Italianate style, tall, light and airy, was also thought more suitable (and less costly) to the heavy clay subsoil of the common than the traditional Gothic that had also been considered.
The rood beam has figures carved in Italy by Alphonse Nofleur. The baldachino, based on drawings by Eden, is the work of Sir Stephen Dykes-Bower, architect and surveyor of Westminster Abbey and the designer of the rebuilt St John’s Church in Newbury. The memorial chapel of St Michael also has a reredos designed by Sir Stephen. The other major artistic contributions to St George’s are by John Hayward: the superb circular stained glass west window in reds and golds shows St George; the Lady Chapel reredos depicts the Annunciation; the St Michael Window; the pulpit, lectern and priests’ stalls; and the Processional Cross and Churchwardens’ staves.
In 1933 when the half-finished Church came into use, the former St Luke’s became the first church hall. As the needs of the community grew, it was decided to build a new hall and in 1970 two gifts were received towards the a new building. Work commenced in 1972 and after some delays completed in 1973. See the short memoire by Fr Piers Nash-Williams who was vicar during this period.
After 20 years of constant use and exposure to the elements the 1970s hall was starting to deteriorate and a number of bad winters forced its closure in 1995. Plans for a new hall to meet the current needs of the wide range of regular users, as well as to extend the Church itself to provide new facilities were drawn up. The Development Project raised some £0.6mn over nine years to complete this vision. The new Hall was opened in January 1997 and the Annexe rooms in September 1999 to form the St George’s Centre. The redecoration and relighting of the Church was the final stage of the project.