Church of St Peter, Tower Hamlets
Description: Church of St Peter
Date Listed: 27 September 1973
English Heritage Building ID: 206237
OS Grid Reference: TQ3435483029
OS Grid Coordinates: 534354, 183029
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5302, -0.0645
Location: St Peter's Square, Poplar, Greater London E2 7AX
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788/4/19 ST PETER'S CLOSE E2
27-SEP-73 ST PETER'S CHURCH
Parish Church. 1840-41 by Lewis Vulliamy, with early-C20 internal refurbishments and vestry to east.
MATERIALS: The main material is a well crafted knapped flint, framed by stock brick banding, quoins and pilasters, and with terracotta and stucco dressings.
PLAN: A large rectangular plan with a tower at the west end and a shallow apse to the east end, with a single storey range projecting beyond this to the east.
STYLE: In the Norman style, which was briefly popular at the time of its design, and overall bold in massing and austere in decoration.
EXTERIOR: The west end has a Norman portal of 4 orders, above which rises the mass of the tower, blind except for a roundel at the top, with a shield-bearing angel, and then the octagonal tower, enlivened by elegant columns and topped with a spire. The roof profile of the wide nave is visible behind this, with stepped round-headed lancets, alternately blind. Each bay of the side elevations is defined by a tall rounded lancet edged in brick between brick pilasters, these set on a flint and brick base. The glass is mostly clear, except for the windows to the eastern end. East end comprises main wide gable, with lower gable of shallow sanctuary with a triple lancet windows. In front of this, a single story vestry range with central door in moulded portal, and raised gables at each end. These lower ranges return to the north and south, with secondary entrances and faced with a wide blind arcade.
INTERIOR: The Norman style is seen in the large rounded sanctuary arch, within which is an arcade with paintings of saints in Greek Orthodox style, added in 2000 to designs of Gregory Papagiougiou. The roof is striking, comprising 8 queen-post trusses with bold trefoil spandrels, all in rich dark wood. Refurbishment of 1905 under the Rev. W.H. Maynard include removal of the galleries, addition of the vestry, and the moving of the organ to the East end. East window of 1909, with kneeling angels flanking a figure of Christ. The Gothic rood screen was installed in 1911 along with the pulpit, font and stained glass by Heaton Butler & Bayne, and is painted with names to form a War Memorial. The pews may also be alterations of this time, of good quality and with Perpendicular detailing. These early-C20 refurbishments moved away from the resolutely Norman styling of the exterior, but they are of quality and contribute to the interest of the interior.
HISTORY: The Church of St. Peter was the first of Bishop Blomfield's churches in Bethnal Green. Charles James Blomfield, Bishop of London, was determined to alleviate the dramatic shortage of churches and vicars in the capital (he calculated that in some parishes there was less than one church for every 19,000 people). Blomfield's campaign was part of the wider Church Commission of 1818 to build new churches. Bethnal Green had experienced considerable population growth in the early C19 and was a prime candidate for a Commissioners' Church. The church was originally in the centre of a square with terraced houses, although these are now mostly replaced, except for the grade II Vicarage, also by Vulliamy.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: A church of 1840-1 by the notable C19 architect Lewis Vulliamy, in an unusual Norman style with finely massed and detailed elevations, most notably in knapped flint. The interior has a striking truss roof as well as other good original and early-C20 fittings that contribute to its interest. The church forms a group with the listed railings and piers, the Vicarage and the former school, now Noel Mander Church Organ Works.
B. Cherry, C. O'Brien, and N. Pevsner. Buildings of England London 5: East (Yale University Press, 2005).
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.