St. Peter’s church
The church is dedicated to St. Peter, the Apostle, although there is suggestion that it was originally dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Early 17th century records refer to the “Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul, Brandonferrye”. The existence of both saints in a stained glass window may hint that this is true, but the windows were installed in the 19th century, so may not provide concrete evidence as being the case. However it is feasible that “Paul” was left out of references to the church over the centuries, thus corrupting the name to St. Peter’s.
A brief history
The Saxon settlement of Brandon was at a point several hundred metres north of the church, close the river Little Ouse. It is thought that one of the excavated buildings discovered by archaeologists was a timber framed church. Over time the settlement then moved toward Town Street (Crown Street), west of the church. A separate settlement, Brandon Ferry, was established by the river end of today’s High Street. Over time the communities merged into one. The Domesday Survey states there was a church in Brandon in 1086 and Saxon remains recently discovered suggest Christians were in Brandon long before that. The present church is not the one in the Domesday Survey, it was built later, but it is not know whether the present church was built on the site of the one in the survey.
The earliest parts are late-13th century – nave, chancel, The Lady Chapel and the eastern most four ‘bays’ of the south aisle. It is likely the font dates from a similar period, or even earlier. The tower and westernmost bay of the south aisle (children’s corner) are late-14th century. The porch (front entrance) is early-16th century. The building is made from flint and stone – Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular styles.
Essential restoration work was carried out in 1842 and again in 1873, which all contributed to drastically changing the inner appearance.
- The roof was replaced, old brick flooring removed and replaced with coloured tiles, clear glass was replaced with opaque pink and green Cathedral Glass and new pine benches added.
- The old pulpit was replaced.
- A new and expensive marble and alabaster reredos (huge altar piece) was bought from Italy at the personal expense of Rev. William Foord Crocker, then Rector of the church.
- Galleries were took down.
- Stonework was repaired.
- The turrets at the east end were capped with ashlar (squared, wrought stone) cupolas and finials, with stone crosses added to the gables.
Therefore much of today’s appearance inside the church of Victorian origin. However there are still objects from before this period – several bench end (poppy heads), fragments of the original choir stalls and a holy water stoup in the porch.
The organ was installed in 1912, enlarged between the war years and was comprehensively overhauled in 1991.
The tower was once topped by a lantern until 1904, when the lantern had become structurally unsafe and so was removed. The tower contains six bells, five of which were cast in 1815, the year of Waterloo, the sixth was added in 1870. A new bell frame was installed, and the tower strengthened, in 1938. There is a sundial on the tower, added by churchwardens Cesar Life and Richard Neve in 1725. There are also several gargoyles, including one of a Cheshire cat.
The churchyard was closed for burials in 1903. Near the east entrance to the churchyard are two badly worn recumbent stone 16th century effigies, known as “The Crusaders”.
The above history of St. Peter’s church is taken from “A Brief History & Guide to St. Peter, Brandon”, on sale at the church for £2.