History of St Peters Church




Stained Glass

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St Peters church is 12th century in origin when its original dedication may have been to St Thomas. In c. 1189 King Richard I (Richard the Lionheart, reigned 1189-1199) granted the manor and church to the Knights of St John of Jerusalem (the Hospitallers) at Dinmore. This monastic order, founded in c. 1023 was dedicated to helping pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land, an aim which led to it becoming a military order. The necessary finance was achieved by the accumulation of assets, In fact, the Knights Hospitallers became very large landowners, with property locally in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire and Glamorgan until their Dissolution under Henry VIII in 1540.Dinmore Commandery, later Preceptory, an administrative centre, was founded and endowed by King Richard early in his reign.

The oldest parts of the church are the north doorway of the nave of circa 1200 and round-arched. There is a reset priest’s doorway in the south west of the chancel of similar date. The lowest stage of the unbuttressed west tower is 13th century and it has deeply splayed lancets and a double-chamfered tower arch. The upper stages and slate broach spire were added in 1858, when the Gloucester architects Thomas Fulljames & F.S. Waller violently restored the church. This was presumably at the instigation of the Rev. Archer Clive who had inherited the Whitfield estate in 1845 and whose deeply religious wife had described Wormbridge church at that time as a 'barn'. They had employed the same architects to build a wing on Whitfield earlier in the 1850s. The actual design of the spire was clearly the subject of great debate. Alternative designs exist in Gloucester Record Office and at Whitfield.

As part of the restoration, the 13th century nave, again with lancets, was heavily buttressed and a timber north porch added. The chancel was almost entirely rebuilt, with stepped east triplet but decorated side windows and a moulded chancel arch on foliated shafts. The neo-Norman font is also of 1858.

The pulpit is made up from woodwork from Newnham Paddox, Warwickshire, the childhood home of Lady Katherine Clive, given to the church in 1870. It has Netherlandish mannerist caryatids in strapwork fetters, plus a figure of Charity, and two English Jacobean figures.

There are excellent medieval fragments of stained glass in the chancel with small late C14 figures of saints, mostly in green and yellow and to the north a Virgin and Child of circa 1500, and a 14th century Massacre of the Innocents etc. The good east window is no doubt by Burlison & Grylls and of 1880.

The Monuments and Memorials
There are a number of of 18th and 19th century memorials in the church, mainly related to to members of the Clive Family. The alabaster altarpiece is the most important work of the suffragette sculptress Edith Elizabeth Downing (1857-1931). It is a memorial to Wilfrid Clive, a younger brother of Percy Archer Clive of Whitfield. Wilfrid Clive had been overcome by sulphurous fumes while visiting a volcanic lake on the Caribbean island of Dominica in late 1901, aged just twenty-six. The reason for the choice of a sculptress who was to become a key figure in the suffragette movement, being imprisoned and force fed in 1912 for window breaking, is not known. It may have been through a connection of Mary Grant, the sculptress of the two profile memorials of Charles Meysey and Lady Katharine Clive, on the right hand side of the chancel.

The Hatchments
At the back of the nave is a collection of five hatchments of the members of the Clive family dating from between 1724-1878.