Church of St Peter, Folkestone
Description: Church of St Peter
Date Listed: 11 March 1975
English Heritage Building ID: 175323
OS Grid Reference: TR2339436169
OS Grid Coordinates: 623394, 136169
Latitude/Longitude: 51.0813, 1.1881
Location: North Street, Folkestone, Kent CT19 6AL
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737/3/96 THE DURLOCKS
CHURCH OF ST PETER
1862-4 by R C Hussey. 1870 N aisle, N transept extended, porch, vestry and apse by S Slingsby Stallwood of Folkestone. 1874 fleche.
MATERIALS: Ragstone with limestone dressings. Slate roofs.
PLAN: Nave, apsidal chancel, N aisle, N and S transepts, small W bell turret, NW corridor porch, N sacristy.
EXTERIOR: The style of St Peter's is mostly Early English. At the W end there is a small square bell turret with a single bell opening and a shingled capping in two stages. Over the crossing there is an octagonal fleche with a slated base, timber central stage and a tall, lead-covered top. The N aisle is a lean-to and has a NW transverse gable covering a two-light plate tracery window. The rest of the fenestration is mostly of the 13th-century with cusped lancets in the aisles, a two-light plate tracery window on the S of the chancel, and a three-light E window of c.1300 with a cinquefoil in the head (this window is under its own gable). The canted sides of the apse have single light trefoil-headed windows. Both transepts have circular windows (differently treated) in their gables. A long corridor-porch runs from the W end of the N aisle beneath an extension of the vicarage
INTERIOR: The walls inside, originally of exposed brick, are now painted white in the body of the church and yellow in the chancel. On the N side of the nave there is a three-bay arcade with steep double-chamfered arches and round piers with capitals in the style of c1200 with protruding balls of foliage The roofs have arch-braces to a collar. The alleyways are laid with red and black tiles in chevron and zig-zag patterns.
PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The painted, wooden Stations of the Cross played a part in the ritual controversies that surrounded St Peter's and its first priest, Father Ridsdale (see History below). There is a delicate wrought iron screen of 1872 on top of the low walls between the nave and chancel and dates. The traceried oak panelling round the chancel was installed in 1894. At the W end there is an organ and choir gallery installed in 1947 to accommodate an organ of 1896 by Beale and Thynne of London (brought here from St Andrew's Home in Folkestone). The octagonal font is Perpendicular and was installed in 1924 having come, it is said, from a Norfolk church lost to the sea: it has shields on its bowl. The nave seats, traceried pulpit, and stalls date from the 19th century: the pulpit and stalls have traceried fronts and the stalls have poppy heads.
HISTORY: St Peter's was originally built as a chapel of ease to the parish church of St Mary and St Eanswythe. It was, as the application for funds in May 1861 to the Incorporated Church Building Society put it `exclusively intended for the fishing & marine population of Folkestone'.This went on to remark that when the parish church had been restored and the galleries where this section of the congregation used to sit were removed `They have absented themselves from church for the most part'. This result of improving the Church & making it more open & light was not foreseen. Lord Radnor gave the site for the new church, which was to be behind the fishermen's dwellings. It was designed by R C Hussey of London and the foundation stone was laid on 29 April 1862. Building seems to have proceeded very rapidly with the church being licensed for public worship on 9 September the same year. The consecration took place of 30 July 1868 by the archbishop of Canterbury. St Peter's became a separate parish the same year. It became known as the `Mariners' Church'. Enlargement was soon considered necessary and this was undertaken in 1870 under the local architect S Slingsby Stallwood. The chief change was the addition of the N aisle. Why Hussey was not resorted to is unknown.
The architects: Richard Charles Hussey (1806-87) was in partnership with Thomas Rickman who is famous for his still-accepted taxonomic categorisation of medieval architecture into various periods whose names we still use today (Norman, Early English, Decorated etc). Hussey had been responsible for work at the parish church in 1856-9 where he had built the new nave and N aisle. Spencer Slingsby Stallwood (1842 or 1843-1922) was articled to an architect in Marlow from 1857 to 1861 and then was in the office of the Salisbury architect, S Clarke until the end of 1862. He entered the office of Joseph Gardner of Folkestone until 1870 and began independent practice in Folkestone in 1873 but later moved to Reading and became diocesan surveyor for Berkshire.
In the 1860s and 1870s St Peter's, under its perpetual curate, Father Charles Joseph Ridsdale, became the centre of ritual controversy. In the mid-1870s in the `Folkestone Ritual Case' Ridsdale was accused on various points, such as the use of lighted candles on the altar, the use of Eucharistic vestments, and the adoption of Stations of the Cross, which had been adopted by advanced Anglo-Catholics such as himself. The case was heard before Lord Penzance at Lambeth Palace in January 1876 and eventually culminated in a landmark judgement of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in May 1877 on the legality of such matters of ceremony. Ridsdale had been the first clergyman to be prosecuted under the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874 and so he and St Peter's have a significant place in the development of the Church of England. A material reminder of all this are the Stations of the Cross which Ridsdale had removed after he was tried. They were stored at St Peter's school for nearly fifty years before being replaced when more freedom was allowed in Anglican worship.
An arson attack in 1996 caused much damage chiefly in the area of the N aisle roof which was renewed as a result. An earthquake in 2007 caused the S transept gable end to collapse and movement of the roof (damage subsequently repaired).
Incorporated Church Building Society papers, Lambeth Palace Library, files 5784, 6262.
Anon., St Peter's Church on the East Cliff, Folkestone: History and Visitors' Guide, n d , c2000
Roger Homan, The Victorian Churches of Kent, 1984, p 57
John Newman, The Buildings of England: Kent, North East and East, 1983, pp 324-5.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION:
The church of St Peter, Shepway, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It is of special interest as a 13th-century-style mid-Victorian church erected to provide a place of worship for working people in Folkestone.
* Architecturally it is quite modest but has a number of fixtures and furnishings of special interest, notably the Stations of the Cross which were part of the ritual controversy which surrounded St Peter's and its first priest. The `Ridsdale Judgement' that resulted from a high-profile court case defined the legality or otherwise of various Anglo-Catholic practices. Other items of note are the medieval font and wrought-iron screen.
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.