A Tour Of St Peter’s Church
First we come to the FONT. This was the gift of a previous vicar, the Reverend H Bromfield, and his churchwardens, G Robinson and W L Sutton, at a cost of £15 and was placed in the church on 25th April 1846.
Looking towards the TOWER. This was opened out in 1868 when the western gallery was removed. Presumably the BELLS had been rung from this level until then. They are hung for ringing and were last restored in 1810 at a cost of £100 7s 8d but are now in a very poor state of repair and are only chimed by means of Ellacombe apparatus in a cupboard in the tower.
The bells bear the following inscriptions:
No. 1 Cantate domino canticum novum 1641 (O sing unto the Lord a new song - Psalm 149).
No. 2 John Smith in Edgebaston made me 1706.
No. 3 Henry Bagley made me 1641.
No. 4 Christopher Tille, Minister, Mr Philemon Clarke and Mr John Goode, churchwardens 1706. Joseph Smith made me.
No. 5 By my voice the people may knowe to come to heare the word of God. Henry Bagley made me 1639.
Also in the tower can be seen a tablet listing some of the charities belonging to Grandborough.
From the tower arch pause and admire the view of the long length of the nave to the altar. The church was reseated in 1862-63, new material being used for nave and chancel and old mis-shaped pews used for the aisles. These had become so rotten and worm-eaten that in 1976 they were removed and burnt and the flagstones laid. During this work the barrel roof of a vault was discovered in the north aisle and on removal of a loose brick several coffins could be seen.
As we walk down the nave towards the altar we can observe on the north side of the CHANCEL what appears to be a small arched “window”. The HAGIOSCOPE or SQUINT is an opening through the wall of a church in an oblique position for the purpose of enabling persons in an aisle to see the elevation of the Host at the High Altar. This squint which is not oblique is ornamental only and was constructed in 1862.
We have now reached the ORGAN.
The organ is believed to date from 1872. Parish records refer to a new organ at that time. It is typical of its period, arguably the best period for tonal design in England. The builder is not certain. The London instrumental retailer, J Cramer, has affixed his label to the console, but it is believed that he acted merely as a selling agent. Above the console door is an inscription in pencil on the framework “Wilson Shaw, Huddersfield, 8th June 1887”. This must have been done before the frame was assembled, since it would be impossible to do in situ. The outstanding feature of this organ is the brilliance of the upper work. The three-rank mixture on the great organ produces a climax to full organ remarkable in an organ of this size. The full specification will be found near the organ. Three stops are not original, two having been transferred from the organ to the former Holy Trinity Church, Rugby, and the pedal trombone having been added in 1974. This rank appears to date from the late 19th Century, although the maker is unknown.
The organ was damaged by water ingress in the 1950s and restored by J W Walker & Sons in 1958. Electric blowing was installed at the same time. Apart from the pedal trombone, the action is tracker and the wind pressure 3¼ inches. The trombone has electric action and 6 inches wind pressure. The pitch is about a quarter tone sharp of the standard ‘A’ 440 Hz.
On the north wall of the chancel beyond the vestry is an AUMBRY or cupboard used to contain sacred vessels. It was discovered and put to use in 1849 when plaster was stripped from the wall.
The REREDOS of Caen stone was erected in 1849 and the floor laid with encaustic tiles.
On the south wall is a PISCINA, a water drain, placed near the altar used to receive water in which the celebrant washed his hands and the Communion vessels during Mass.
While standing in the chancel, a word about the WINDOWS. With the exception of the west window they were restored, repaired and reglazed with diamond panes in 1849. The east window was the gift of G L Johnston and that on the north side which had been stopped up was re-opened. That opposite the organ has been restored again (1989) in memory of a much loved local parishioner. The west window in the tower was reglazed and the mullions restored in 1996; the work paid for by a generous local benefactor.
On leaving the chancel, note the PULPIT on the left and the READING DESK on the right which were first used on 12th July 1846. The old pulpit complete with sounding board had been removed and
re-erected in Wolfhampcote Church.
As we retrace our steps down the nave spare a glance upwards at the ROOF.
In 1848 the nave and aisle ceilings were removed exposing old oak timbers. In 1862-3 they were taken down and the flat roof replaced with a pointed one resting on added clerestory walls. The aisle roofs were also restored to a ‘lean-to’. Since then there have been numerous repairs to the nave roof, that in 1879 (after damage by lightning) costing about £120 that in 1982 costing £7,347 and the latest in 1996 costing £11,000. We can also see from the nave the arcading which is 14th Century work (note the hand-cut stones).
The columns contain the usual characteristics of Decorated Gothic work - circular abacus, shallow moulding, octagonal pier and base. The arches are equilateral.
Before leaving by the south door, observe the presence of a second PISCINA in the south aisle which suggests that the south aisle was originally a Lady Chapel.
As we leave, we find there is no longer a porch. Apparently a rather handsome porch which only needed slight repairs was pulled down in about 1800.
ARROW MARKINGS - Extremely good examples of holes and slits made by the sharpening of arrows on the wall are a reminder that churches were originally built for civil defence, as well as worship.
The SPIRE is 18th Century work on a 15th Century tower and reaches a height of 150 ft. The spire was repointed and a lightning conductor fixed in 1899. In 1913 the weather vane and top 8ft were taken down and rebuilt. In 1984-85, at a cost of £21,307.38, the upper 4ft were again rebuilt, several holes filled in and the weathercock regilded as the second stage of modern restoration work.
The CLOCK was repainted in 1996. Stone paving was laid in front of the west door in time for the licensing of a new Vicar in 1997. This ceremony was the last service conducted by Simon, Bishop of Coventry before his retirement.
In the CHURCHYARD there are several gravestones to be noted. The fine tall memorials to the Gilks family line the eastern end of the church in front of the monkey puzzle tree. The oldest tombs, until recently smothered with ivy, date from the early 1600s and hold the remains of residents of Sawbridge and Woolscott, the latter a wool comber who also resided in London.