The Wall Memorials
St Peter’s contains many fine examples of wall memorial dating from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century, the majority from the 18th and 19th centuries. These memorials commemorate those who were buried in the vault of the church, and their richness owes much to the relative wealth of many of the town’s inhabitants and to the position of the town on main routes of 18th and 19th transportation, which would have made it possible for the necessary materials and craftsmen to be available.
The finest memorial is that which commemorates three of the children of Sir Nicholas Hyde. Sir Nicholas was an influential local landowner who became very important in the court of both James I and Charles I as the Chief Justice of the King’s Bench.
Other Memorials of interest
St Peter’s also contains many fine examples of Victorian stained glass, nearly all of which was installed during the 1863 restoration. The finest is the new three-light east window above the altar made by Lavers and Barraud of London. The principal depictions in his window are the shepherds at the manger, the crucifixion of Christ, and the announcing of the resurrection of Jesus. [image3] The other Lavers and Barraud window is the east window in the Lady Chapel (the restored chapel of “Our Lady of Pity”) which was to become the War Memorial Chapel in 1924 after the end of the First World War. It is known as the “martyrs’ window” and features saints Peter, Paul and Stephen. The south side window in this chapel illustrates the stories of three significant Biblical women – Sara, Mary and Elizabeth.
Other windows of interest
The War Memorial Chapel
The Chapel was opened in 1920 as a memorial to those members of the parish who had died during the First World War. The panelling on which the names of the dead are inscribed in gold was made from the old box pews which had been taken out in 1863 and which had been found in the stable of the Rectory across the road. The reredos behind the altar is made of English oak and is divided into three panels: the central one shows the resurrected Christ rising from the tomb, beside which two Roman soldiers on watch have fallen asleep; the left panel depicts St George slaying the dragon; and the right one shows St Martin dividing his cloak with a beggar.
On the south wall of the Chapel is a framed scroll entitled “Roll of Honour” which is headed as follows: “Your prayers are asked for those who have gone to serve our King and Country by land and sea and air.” On either side of the list of 96 names are the symbols of the Helmet of Salvation, the Shield of Faith, the Breastplate of Righteousness, and the Sword of the Spirit. At the base of the scroll are these words: “Girt about with Truth and feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace.”
During the course of the four years commemorating the centenary of the First World War the stories of some of those named (as having both fought and/or died) will be featured in our biannual newsletters. Their stories can be accessed via this link, as well as being available in an album which will remain on the Chapel altar throughout the period of the centenary of commemoration.