Postcard of St. Georges Cathedral

St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Georgetown, Guyana is one of the tallest wooden churches in the world, at a height of 43.5 metres (143 ft).

St. George’s was designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield and opened on 24 August 1892. The building was completed in 1899. It is located on Church Street in Georgetown, and has been designated a National Monument.

The history of the Anglican Church in Guyana can be traced as far back as 1781, when the Reverend William Baggs, Chaplin to Sir George Rodney, came to this country.

However, his stay was short-lived and it was not until 1796 that the impact of Anglicanism was felt, when Reverend Francis MacMahon began holding services in a room on the ground floor of a building that was on the site of the present Parliament Buildings.

The first church dates back to 1810 and was erected on the site that now houses St. George’s School. This church soon became too small for its increasing membership. In 1839 the foundation stone for a larger church was laid and the small church was relocated at St. Matthew’s Parish, East Bank Demerara.

The second church was completed in 1842 and became the first cathedral, as a Bishop was consecrated and the Diocese of Guiana created on 24 August 1842. However, because of a fault in the structure of the building, it began cracking in several places and soon became unsuitable for habitation. It was subsequently dismantled.

The foundation stone for the present St. George’s Cathedral, built mainly of Greenheart, was laid on 21 November 1889, and the cathedral was consecrated on 8 November 1894 and dedicated by Bishop Swaby.

St. George’s Cathedral is characterised mainly by Gothic arches, clustered columns and flying buttresses.

Interior of St. George’s

The interior of the church makes for fascinating history. Whether it is an article of furniture, the chalices, the memorial tablets or the Baptism registers – they all tell a story. The story is not only about Guyana’s history, but glimpses of its Caribbean neighbours are also revealed. There is a small Gothic shrine of carved oak in the northern aisle that commemorates Bishop Coleridge, first Bishop of Barbados, who was responsible for British Guiana from 1826 to 1842. The brass lectern, near the central altar, was given by the Diocese of Barbados when the present Cathedral was opened in 1892. The Sedilia was donated by Chinese Christians.

The decorative stained glass windows reflect myriad colours in the sunlight. These windows depict scenes from the Crucifixion and the Ascension, among others. Consisting of two rows of six windows, The East window was donated by the McConnell family. The upper windows depict scenes from the Book of Revelation. The intricate ironwork depicts pictures of birds and flowers. The choir seats are beautifully carved.

A large chandelier, a gift from Queen Victoria, hangs prominently within the cathedral. The wooden Centenary Cross in front of the High Altar marks the 100th anniversary of the Province of the West Indies, founded in 1883. The Cross was carried around the Diocese in 1983, marking the centenary. The pulpit, donated in memory of the Jones family of Plantation Houston dates from 1866.