Description: Church of St Peter
Date Listed: 12 January 1954
English Heritage Building ID: 245437
OS Grid Reference: SP4966809846
OS Grid Coordinates: 449668, 209846
Latitude/Longitude: 51.7851, -1.2814
612/17/8 FIRST TURN
CHURCH OF ST PETER
DATES OF MAIN PHASES, NAME OF ARCHITECT: Early C14 W tower. Remainder rebuilt 1860 to designs by Charles Buckeridge. Vestry 1835
MATERIALS: Coursed limestone rubble and limestone dressings. Reconstituted stone slates replaced the former Stonesfield stone slates in 1977.
PLAN: Nave, slightly lower chancel, N aisle with small mortuary chapel off, W tower, N transept, S porch.
EXTERIOR: The squat W tower, thought to date from the C14, survives from the medieval building and consists of two stages. The lower and taller has a W doorway with a square-headed Perpendicular doorway and above this a W window of three-lights with Perpendicular tracery. The upper stage has two-light belfry windows and the top of the tower has a restored embattled parapet. The body of the church was rebuilt in 1860 and has windows of one and two lights based on C13 prototypes. The E window is of five-lights with Geometrical tracery. At the W end of the N aisle there is a pair of trefoil headed windows with a sexfoiled circle above.
INTERIOR: The walls are plastered and whitened. The arcade to the N aisle has piers of quatrefoil section, moulded arches, capitals and bases. The chancel arch is plainer with a chamfered head, thin imposts and plain reveals with a simple chamfering.
PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The oldest feature is the Norman font. This is tub-shaped with a circular tapering bowl with incised diaper decoration. A medieval altar slab was set into the floor of the E end at the time of the 1860 rebuilding. In the first window from the E of the S side of the chancel there is some early C14 geometric grisaille glass painted with a design of oak leaves and acorns, and said to have come from Merton College. There are also some windows with C19 stained glass. Much of the C19 pewing remains but the stalls have been removed from the chancel. The most significant monument is that to Sir John Walter (d 1630) to whom the N chapel was conveyed in 1627. It was damaged during the Civil War and lost its canopy when the old church was taken down in 1859. The tomb-chest survives with recumbent effigies of Walter and his two wives. His three sons and three daughters kneel at their head and feet. Some original paint remains. There is a marble wall monument to David Walter (d 1679). Other C17 and C18 monuments from the old church were also resited in the new building.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: W of the tower is a First World War memorial cross.
HISTORY: A chapel of ease, dependent on St Peter-in-the-East, is first recorded in 1236 but the Norman font suggests there was a building on the site before that. Although it therefore seems to have had early baptismal rights, burial rights were not granted until 1414. The medieval church was taken down in 1859, apart from the W tower. The nave was rebuilt on its old foundations, the chancel rebuilt (by Merton College), a new S porch was built at the expense of Thomas Combe of the university press, and the N chapel was replaced by a wide N aisle with a small mortuary chapel approached by a re-used C13 stone arch at its NE end to accommodate the reconstructed Walter monument and enlarged. The rebuilt church was reopened in 1860. The tower was repaired and the belfry adapted for a larger ring of bells in 1967. The roof covering was replaced in 1977. An altar set up at the E end of the N aisle in 1947 was removed in 1974 when a new nave altar was erected.
The architect of the rebuilt church, Charles Buckeridge (1832-73), was admitted to a studentship at the Royal Academy school of architecture in 1854. He then worked in the office of George Gilbert Scott who had the most successful ecclesiastical practice of the day and through which many brilliant pupils passed. Scott passed a number of jobs to Buckeridge who set up in independent practice in Oxford in 1856. This was no doubt because in that year the great G E Street moved his office from Oxford to London thus opening up architectural opportunities for others. Buckeridge was a Tractarian in his churchmanship and this brought him a number of commissions from like-minded clients and he undertook many church restorations. He usually worked in the Gothic styles of the C13 and early C14 and his work, although not ranking with that of the greatest names of the Victorian Gothic Revival, often attracted favourable contemporary notices and contributed much to the built environment of Victorian Oxford and its surroundings.
Saint, A., `Charles Buckeridge and his Family', Oxoniensia, vol.38 (1973), 357-72.
Sherwood, J. and Pevsner, N., The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire (1974), 851
Victoria County History of Oxfordshire, vol.12 (1990), 320-3.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION:
The church of St Peter, Wolvercote is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It has a medieval W tower but is otherwise a rebuilding of 1860 by a well-known C19 Oxford architect, Charles Buckeridge.
* It has medieval fittings in its font, fragments of glass, and altar slab plus the remains of a once-fine C17 monument.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.