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Church of St Peter, Sandwell

Description: Church of St Peter

Grade: II
Date Listed: 21 December 2012
Building ID: 1410492

OS Grid Reference: SO9810991846
OS Grid Coordinates: 398109, 291847
Latitude/Longitude: 52.5245, -2.0293

Locality: Sandwell
County: Sandwell
Postcode: B70 0HJ

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Listing Text


A parish church, built in 1857-8 to the designs of Thomas Johnson of Lichfield, with some late-C20 restoration following an arson attack in 1966.

Reason for Listing

The Church of St Peter, built in 1857-8 to the designs of Thomas Johnson of Lichfield, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: as a competent example of the early C14 Decorated style, showing considerable attention to detail with regard to its massing and composition;
* Intactness: although the west end was repaired following an arson attack in 1966, the overall degree of alteration is slight and the survival of original fittings is noteworthy;
* Artistic interest: the quality of the stained glass by A. E. Lemmon is high, in particular the 'Te Deum' east window;
* Historic interest: as a local response by the Diocese of Lichfield to introduce liturgical worship in the rapidly expanding industrial suburb of West Bromwich.


By the mid-C19, as the industrial expansion of West Bromwich was matched by a great increase in population, there was a need for a church in Greets Green. Although a site was offered by John Bagnall and Sons, local iron masters, it proved impossible to raise the funds for its construction and endowment. As a result a mission from Christ Church was subsequently set up in a room in Greets Green in 1851. The building of St Peter's finally commenced in 1857, on a site given by Sir Horace St Paul and Edward Jones, with the church being consecrated in 1858. It was designed by Thomas Johnson of Lichfield (1794-1865), a prolific designer of churches in the Midlands. Johnson was a founding member of the Lichfield Society for the Encouragement of Ecclesiastical Architecture, founded in 1841 to influence the development of church architecture in the Diocese of Lichfield. With the society advocating a return to the medieval form of church design, Johnson deployed the aesthetics and proportions of an early-C14 Decorated style for St Peter's. During the C20 the church was fitted with a number of stained glass windows of which the most notable were designed by A E Lemmon (1890-1963) who, in 1911, became assistant to A J Davies in the stained glass studio at the Bromsgrove Guild before establishing his own studio in Bromsgrove in 1927. In 1966 an arson attack caused some minor damage to the west end which was restored as a result.


MATERIALS: the church is of coursed and squared sandstone with ashlar dressings, a chamfered ashlar plinth and Welsh slate roofs with ashlar coped gables.

PLAN: the church is orientated north-east to south-west, though ritual compass points are used throughout this description. It comprises a clerestoried nave, lean-to aisles, south porch, west tower and a chancel with lower ridge than the nave and a south organ chamber and a north vestry.

EXTERIOR: the church has an early-C14 Decorated appearance and comprises a five-bay, clerestoried nave rising over five-bay, lean-to aisles. The aisles have offset diagonal buttresses to the east and west ends, offset buttresses dividing the bays and two- and three-light traceried windows with chamfered surrounds and head-stopped hoodmoulds. At the west end of the south aisle there is a gabled, south porch with offset angled buttresses and a double-chamfered, pointed entrance. An encaustic tiled floor leads up to a pointed, boarded and ledged double-door of stained softwood, set within a chamfered surround. Above the aisle are curved, triangular, clerestory windows with trefoil and elongated quatrefoil cusping. The east end of the church has offset diagonal buttresses and a large, pointed window of four cusped lights with trefoils and a quatrefoil to the top, set within a chamfered surround. The east elevations of the organ chamber and vestry both contain two-light traceried windows; the south elevation of the organ chamber contains a lancet window whilst the north elevation of the vestry contains a trefoil headed doorway with a C19 boarded and ledged door of stained softwood. At the west end of the church there is a four stage tower with offset diagonal buttresses rising to an embattled parapet. To the lower stage of the tower there is a pointed west doorway containing a late-C20, boarded and ledged, oak door set within a double-chamfered surround with roll moulded arch and hoodmould with continuous moulding extending to the returns. To the second stage there is a large, three-light traceried window with a quatrefoil to the top, set within a chamfered surround with a head-stopped hoodmould. The third stage contains lancet windows whilst the fourth stage has pointed belfry windows of two-lights. At the top of the tower there is a pyramidal roof surmounted by a cockerel weathervane. To the south-east corner of the tower, in the angle with the south aisle, there is a polygonal stair turret with a trefoil-headed doorway and small, rectangular windows that rises to the tower’s third stage. The west elevations of the aisles each contain a two-light traceried window with chamfered surrounds and head-stopped hoodmoulds.

INTERIOR: the church has a five-bay nave arcade of pointed, double-chamfered arches carried on octagonal piers and responds with block capitals. The arches to the nave are embellished with the same decorative detailing as the external windows in the form of hoodmoulds with headstops. The chancel arch is similar but is carried on carved angel corbels. The nave roof is comprised of scissor-braced trusses with wall posts supported on moulded, stone corbels at the clerestory level. To the chancel there is a trussed-rafter roof whilst the aisles have arched braces to the bay principals with struts down to the arcade spandrels, again with wall posts and moulded, stone corbels. Flooring to the chancel is of C19 decorative, encaustic tiles whilst that to the nave and aisle is of late-C20 plain terrazzo. Walls are plastered.

The fittings include a C19 font with an octagonal bowl decorated with trefoil-cusping, a tapered octagonal stem, a moulded base and a wooden font cover with scrolled metalwork decoration; the font was raised in height in the C20 with the insertion of a stone plinth. The C19 choir stalls and pews are of stained softwood; the pews with roll moulding to the cappings and fielded panels to the ends. A stone pulpit is partly built into the northern respond of the chancel arch and is of irregular, polygonal form with the same moulded profile as seen on the nave capitals. In the chancel there is a three-manual, pipe organ and case with decorative, painted, metal pipes by Nicholson and Lord of Walsall. To the east end of the south aisle there is an ex-situ organ screen which was purchased by the Rev W F Bradley from Tewkesbury Abbey and installed here in 1890 as a memorial to his wife, Susan Godfrey. At the east end of the north aisle there is an ex-situ oak reredos and set beneath the tower gallery at the west end there is an ex-situ oak screen with Perpendicular blind arcading; these fittings are of probable C20 date but their origins are unknown. The church contains a notable collection of C20 stained glass by A.E. Lemmon, including: the ‘Te Deum’ east window of 1930; a memorial window to Charles Lucas (died 1940), depicting ‘The Call of the Four Fishermen’; and a memorial window to Samuel Pearson (died1936), depicting the ‘Empty Tomb’.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.