Gloucestershire Places of Worship

We have 11 Images St Peter's Church, Winchcombe (1) (91k) St Peter's Church, Winchcombe (2) (60k) St Peter's Church, Winchcombe (3) (58k) St Peter's Church, Winchcombe (4) (67k) St Peter's Church, Winchcombe (5) (73k) St Peter's Church, Winchcombe (6) (63k) St Peter's Church, Winchcombe (7) (67k) St Peter's Church, Winchcombe (8) (83k) St Peter's Church, Winchcombe (9) (74k) St Peter's Church, Winchcombe (10) (88k) St Peter's Church, Winchcombe (11) (79k) Above Photograph(s)
Copyright of Rosemary Lockie
St Peter's Church, Winchcombe
St Peter's Church,
Gloucester Street,
Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.


This Church has (or had) a graveyard.

Note: any church within an urban environment may have had its graveyard closed after the Burial Act of 1853. Any new church built after that is unlikely to have had a graveyard at all.

Church History

This Place of Worship was founded in 1175, and we understand it is still open.

"Dirty Gretton, Dingy Greet, Beggardly Winchcombe, Sudel[e]y Sweet" [Old Gloucestershire Rhyme]

The building of St Peter in its present form dates from 1468, however there was a place of worship in Winchcombe dedicated to St Peter long before this. Offa King of Mercia founded a nunnery here in 786, and his successor, King Kenulf, founded a Benedictine Abbey on the site. Jo Stevinson, in her booklet The Story of St Peter's, Winchcombe, c.400-2007 suggests the Abbey may have three associated churches, St Peter's for the townspeople, St Mary's for the monks, and St Pancras to serve the cemetery. Ms Stevinson also tells us of a tradition of a Saxon church of St Nicholas, standing at the corner of what is now Bull Lane and Chandos Street; and she suggests that the chapel, dedicated to St Nicholas, which was added to St Peter's in 1174, was possibly a replacement for the Saxon building.

She paints a vivid picture of a St Peter's of the 690s, as "a rectangular stone building, with an altar at the east end, glass windows, diffusing light; a beautiful covering for the altar; a gold cross adorned with silver and jewels".

She also recounts that in 1245, Henry de Campden, parson of St Peter's, applied to Henry III for permission to lengthen the chancel, and enlarge the incomplete south aisle. Permission was granted on condition that the entrance to the Abbey's precincts remained thirty feet wide, and the king's highway eighteen feet wide, to allow two carts to be able to pass one another. Thus traffic congestion is nothing new - on the day of our visit, history was repeating itself as portions of the road were cordoned off with traffic bollards, in preparation for the Mop Fair later in the day.

Turbulent times during the 14th century - the Black Death, and Hundred Years War, may have been equally, if not more devastating to the land than World Wars of the 20th century. As a consequence, by 1415 the old St Peter's had been declared as no longer usable, and a rebuilding programme was initiated under Abbot William. Work began in 1458, and with financial help from Lord Ralph Boteler of Sudeley it was completion 10 years later. This is the building we see today, largely unaltered, at least externally, from that time.

The porch over the south doorway has a carved stone figure of St Peter above the entrance. Inside it has a fan vaulted ceiling, above which is a living room, originally used as accomodation for a priest. The weather cock on top of the tower was brought in 1874 from St Mary Redcliffe Church in Bristol.

The East Window is by Hardman of Birmingham, and was installed in 1885 whilst Robert Noble Jackson, an ex-naval chaplain, was vicar. It depicts the legend of St Peter, in blue and gold, walking on water, whilst the figure of Jesus, in a silvery garment, is 'stilling the storm'. Birds fly above the waves, and there are angels with fishing nets at each end of the boat. The boat flies the 'Church pennant' - a hybrid of St George's Cross and the Dutch flag, which originated during the Dutch Wars of the 17th century. It was flown during church services, when fighting was suspended, and is still used by the Navy in the present day.

At the west end, the stone screen separating the nave from the base of the tower bears various coats of arms, and is flanked on either side by large statues of King Kenulf and of Henry VI. Both the screen and statues were given to the church in 1872 by Mrs Emma Dent. She and her husband John Coucher Dent were the instigators, and benefactors of the church's 1870 restoration.

Above the modern vestibule on the south wall (photograph four) is a Royal Coat of Arms of George III, dating from 1778.

A medieval oak screen, which once stood between the chancel and nave now separates - on opposite sides of the church - the choir vestry from the north aisle, and the Chapel of Our Lady (our fifth photograph) from the south aisle. The Lady Chapel was dedicated originally to St Nicholas and is the burial place of the Boteler family, Lords of Sudeley, whereas the vestry was formerly a Chantry Chapel.

On the north wall of the chancel is a monument to Thomas WILLIAMS of Corndean (photograph seven), who died in 1636, and was buried 28th May aged 54. He was born in 1582, the second son of Sir David WILLIAMS, Bart. "of Gwernewett in Brecknockshire on of his Magesties Judges in Westminster". He married Hester, daughter of James HAWKENS of Great Washbourne. Tradition has it that the empty recess opposite him, was intended for his widow, but she remarried after his death, and preferred to be buried with her second husband.

On an equally sad note, William TOWNLEY is buried in Winchcombe churchyard. He was hung at Gloucester Prison on 23 March 1811. Some 20 to 30 minutes after he was hanged, a letter of reprieve was received at the prison.

The south west and north west ends of the aisles (photographs eight and nine) have stone coffins, which were brought to the Church in 1815 from the east end of Winchcombe Abbey [qv Kelly, 1823]. There are also fragments of tiles from the Abbey in a display panel on the north wall. These are arranged in a diagonal design, and can be seen on the eighth of our photographs.

Arguably, St Peter's most treasured possession is its medieval altar cloth, shown on our tenth photograph. This was made up from vestment orphreys from the previous century about 1460-70. Its creation is traditionally attributed to Catherine of Aragon, during her stay at Sudeley, since it includes her emblem, the pomegranate, and a Tudor 'fishbone' border. [Sources: Rosemary Lockie, from a personal visit, and Mrs Emma Dent's Annals of Winchcombe and Sudeley (1877), and John Williams]


Now or formerly Church of England.

If more than one congregation has worshipped here, or its congregation has united with others, in most cases this will record its original dedication.


This Church is located at OS grid reference SP0230128224. You can see this on various mapping systems. Note all links open in a new window:

Information last updated on 3 Aug 2016 at 10:06.

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This Report was created 8 Aug 2022 - 03:01:42 BST from information held in the Gloucestershire section of the Places of Worship Database. This was last updated on 13 Oct 2021 at 14:13.

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