St Peter's Church, Canterbury  Church

Image Source: Ian Hadingham


The medieval church of St. Peter the Apostle is one of only two Anglican churches within Canterbury's historic City Walls that survives in religious use today. Apart from Canterbury Cathedral, the only other Anglican church within the city walls to still be used for public worship is St. Mildred's. There are Roman Catholic, Methodist and URC churches, plus a Quaker Meeting House still active within the walls; but at least ten Anglican churches have been and gone. The historic churches of St. Paul's, St. Dunstan's and St. Martin's, plus the 20th century St. Mary Bredin and All Saints congregations, not forgetting Canterbury Baptist, all lie outside the ancient medieval walls. St. Peter's irregular floor plan owes much to the fact that it was built and later extended over many centuries. It was originally built over what might have been a Roman-era Christian place of worship that had long since been demolished when the present St. Peter's was built in the 12th century. Evidence of Roman tiles have been found in the tower, which is the oldest part of the church. It dates from the early 12th century along with the nave. The chancel was extended in the 13th century and the north and south aisles were added in the 14th and early 15th centuries. The chancel contains a recess that once held the Easter Sepulchre. The roof structure is a fascinating arrangement of 14th and 15th century wooden crown posts. Today the north aisle houses the Lady Chapel at its east end. There are some fragments of 15th century stained-glass in the window immediately behind the organ. The end of the south aisle has been designated as a chapel dedicated to St. John, with a stained-glass window designed by Ninian Comper and added in 1904. The font is a square piece of Bethersden marble, dating from around 1200. It is housed underneath the west tower and overlooked by the banner of the former St. Alphege church. For a while the churches of St. Peter and St. Alphege were joined together before St. Alphege was declared redundant in 1982. The three panels of the tryptych from behind its former altar have come to rest here, and are currently wrapped in a cloth behind the altar in the south aisle. The carved wooden rood beam dividing the nave from the chancel was erected in 1922 as a thanksgiving for the men from the parish that gave their lives in the First World War. The north wall contains a number of monuments, including a brass commemoration of a number of French Hugenot refugees, who had made Canterbury their home since the 17th century. There is also a restored copy of the Royal Arms, dating from 1704 (Queen Anne). In 1926 St. Peter's was closed, pending demolition. There were simply too many churches within Canterbury's city centre for them all to be viable. But where many others were either closed, destroyed in the war or demolished for road widening, St. Peter's managed to survive. It was reopened in 1953 and in 1959 it was restored as a Parish Church. Today it has a small but committed Anglican congregation, but it has also responded to the changing demographics of the area and has become the home church of the city's Romanian community. The wooden Orthodox icons in the church have been placed there by the Romanian community for use in their Christian worship. Text by Rob Andrews



Church Data


1851 Census Details


Seating Capacity: 455

Morning Attendance: 188

Afternoon Attendance: No service

Evening Attendance: No service


Architecture Details


Original Build Date/Architect: Medieval


Second Restoration:







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