This is the oldest Church of Ireland in Belfast and was built on the site of two earlier churches, one of these  was a dependent chapel of the Church of Sancles or (Shankill).  In the Papal Taxations of 1306 it is referred to as the Chapel of the Ford and was widely used by pilgrims and travellers who would pray here for a safe crossing of the ford and mud flats.

 

When the Church of Sancles fell into ruin the Chapel at the ford took over. It was also known as the Church at Belfast, in 1613 when the Charter of James I was granted to Belfast, the Sovereign and Burgesses attended  the Church. They were known as the Corporation and the church became known as The Corporation Church (1613 - 1774).

 

Oliver Cromwell's troops arrived in Ireland in August 1649 and within a year had conquered the country, he left in May 1950 leaving Henry Ireton in charge of forces. Some of Cromwqell's troops billeted at The Corporation Church. While there they reputedly took lead from the roof to make musket balls.

 

In 1690 King William arrived in Belfast on his way to meet his father-in-law at the Battle of the Boyne, and it was here In this church he sat and listened to the famous sermon  'Arise, great King.....'   By 1774 the Church was in a bad state of repair, rather than repair it the patron Earl Chichester gave land for a new church to be built. this was called St Anne's and was replaced by the present day St Anne's Cathedral.

 

As Belfast developed the town needed another church, a group of parishioners created a chapel of ease on the site of the old church and it became known as 'George's Church' and later Saint George's Church (1816 to present).  The church was very popular and developed a tradition for music and openness which continues right to the present day.  The first organist was Edward J. Bunting who is known for his work in collating Irish Music as well as his close association with the Belfast Harper's Festival.

 

The church we see today was designed by John Bowden, interestingly the Greek style pillars were brought from Ballyscullion House, the residence of the Bishop of Derry, Frederick Hervey. The foundation stone was laid in 1813 by the Earl of Masserene and the church opened in 1816. In 1962, Newton Penprase who built Bendhu at Ballintoy, painted the blue and gold latticework on the pulpit which dates to 1867. Henry Joy McCracken, one of the leaders of the United Irishmen was executed for his part in the failed uprising of 1798, was originally buried near the Parish Hall door. His body was later moved to Clifton Street cemetary. Henry Joy was born on High Street.