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Church of St Peter, Wilton

Description: Church of St Peter

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 4 August 1951
English Heritage Building ID: 319286

OS Grid Reference: SU1022231364
OS Grid Coordinates: 410222, 131364
Latitude/Longitude: 51.0815, -1.8554

Location: A36, Wilton, Wiltshire SP2 0AX

Locality: Wilton
County: Wiltshire
Country: England
Postcode: SP2 0AX

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Listing Text


Mainly 13th century, with a bellcote added probably in the 15th century.

Materials: Mixed rubble and freestone, some flint. Clay tiles.

Plan: Small three-bay nave with narrower chancel. On the south side, a very narrow aisle, porch and vestry. Small west gallery.

Exterior: A small church, its nave is of mixed rubble stone and the chancel of freestone. The west gable has a short octagonal bellcote added in the 15th century, with a frill of brattishing (ornamental cresting) and a stone spirelet. Below, on the outer face of the west wall is a heavy projecting round-headed arch, presumably additional buttressing to take the weight of the stone bellcote. The masonry joins at the nave angles and the continuous string-course low down make it clear that the west wall was entirely rebuilt, probably when the bellcote was added. The west window is a two-centred opening, with two plain mullions going right into the head of the arch, unrelieved by any form of tracery or cusping. The date of the mullions is uncertain. The buttressed north wall of the nave has two windows with timber Y-tracery, possibly c1780-1810. The chancel has three uncusped lancets on the north side. The east window is a triple-stepped lancet with narrow shafts, typical of the E.E. style, though almost certainly renewed. The south side has a small lean-to vestry against the chancel, probably mid-19th century, and the aisle and brick south porch are painted. The aisle has one window, with timber tracery of two four-headed arched lights; perhaps c1800-30. At the south-west corner of the nave is a heavy projecting buttress, clearly of one build with the 15th century west wall. This may have formed the west wall of a broader medieval south aisle, replaced by the present narrow one perhaps in the late 18th or early 19th century, dates which would correspond with that of the porch and window.

Interior: The walls are rendered and whitewashed throughout. Two broad chamfered arches, probably 13th or early 14th century, lead into the south aisle (now only wide enough for two pews facing across the church). The piers are square, with a slight chamfer. The size of these arches also suggests a bigger medieval aisle. The ceiling is plastered, probably 18th or 19th century. The chancel arch too appears to be of plaster, and moulded with a four-centred opening. It may be c. 1800-30. The nave floor is of stone flags, with the pews on oak-planked platforms. There are black-and-red quarry tiles in the chancel. At the east end of the south aisle can be seen in the wall towards the chancel arch the remains of an access and steps to a rood loft. The north face of the opening has been bricked up. A small trefoil-headed piscina and credence shelf have been inserted in the south wall of the chancel, interrupting the line of the window opening. The outer face of the door between chancel and vestry (originally an outside door) has a good medieval hoodmould with headstops.

Principal Fixtures: The communion rail with turned balusters is in the style of c1700, but the new-looking oak and the inauthentic flat topped profile of the hand rail suggest it may be a late 19th century imitation (c.f. C.E. Ponting¿s work at St Andrew Bemerton). Late 18th century stone font with a gadrooned and moulded bowl on a stem of inverted pear shape. The chancel stalls are of pine, with panelled and buttressed fronts, and perhaps from the restoration of 1848. The pulpit, reading desk and box-pews are all of oak, with cusped blind arches (cusped square panelling on the pulpit): they are perhaps earlier 19th century. The dados for the pews are made up of reused 17th century oak with patterned friezes of fan motifs. These came from the former pews, and bear marks of door hinges etc. The gallery is on cast-iron columns, and has on the front cusped blind arcading, similar to the pews. Some of the gallery benches may be 18th century. The east window has good stained glass c1852. A small organ on the gallery has a Gothic case, 1850. The church has no electricity; remarkably it is still lit only by gas, using original Victorian fittings including wall brackets and several gasoliers. That in the chancel has decorative turquoise enamelling. In the sanctuary is a small Purbeck marble coffin lid with effigy in relief of a woman with her arms crossed over her chest; reportedly the matron of St Giles¿s leper hospital (about ¼ mile east, probably founded 1135). In the nave is a marble tablet to Martha Wansborough d. 1767, with broken pediment. Above the chancel arch, the painted Royal arms of George III.

History: A church at Fugglestone is first mentioned in 1291. It may well have been in existence at least a few years before that, since the chapel of St Andrew, Bemerton, which was probably always a dependent of Fugglestone, existed at least by 1287. St Peter has no trace of any Norman work, and its earliest features seem to be 13th century. It was administered as a single parish with Bemerton until 1649, when it was recommended that Bemerton be made a separate parish. Although separate vestries, churchwardens and registers were established by 1654 and continued until recent times, the split was never implemented. The extant 17th century panelling in the church indicates a major refitting with box pews, perhaps during the incumbency of George Herbert (1630-3), who did much similar work to dignify St Andrew, Bemerton. By the 19th century, the settlement of Fugglestone had shrunk almost to nothing. Several phases of restoration and refitting from c1780-1900 are evident in the fabric, but none seems to have been adequately recorded. One reportedly took place in 1848. St John Bemerton, built in 1859-61, became the main church of the parish, since which time St Peter has been used for occasional services only. This accounts for the survival of its gas lighting, and the lack of significant changes since that time.

Victoria County Histories: A History of the County of Wiltshire; Volume 6 (1962), 37-50.
Pevsner, N. and Cherry, B., The Buildings of England: Wiltshire, (1975), 580.

Reasons for Designation: The church of St Peter, Fugglestone, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* A small 13th century village church with much original fabric, largely unchanged since 1861

* 13th century Purbeck marble coffin lid with effigy

* Excellent 17th century pew panels and doors re-used as a dado

* Good early 19th century box pews of oak; pulpit and gallery in similar style and of the same date.

* Working Victorian gas lighting: a very unusual survival.

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.