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Church of St Peter and lych gate

A Grade II* Listed Building in Leckhampton, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.8732 / 51°52'23"N

Longitude: -2.0842 / 2°5'3"W

OS Eastings: 394299

OS Northings: 219402

OS Grid: SO942194

Mapcode National: GBR 2MJ.FX5

Mapcode Global: VH94F.T5JW

Entry Name: Church of St Peter and lych gate

Listing Date: 4 July 1960

Last Amended: 30 May 2014

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1340121

English Heritage Legacy ID: 135060

Location: Leckhampton, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53

County: Gloucestershire

District: Cheltenham

Civil Parish: Leckhampton

Built-Up Area: Cheltenham

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Leckhampton St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester

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Parish church. C12 origins but mostly C14. Re-ordered in 1831-34, and enlarged in 1866-8 by John Middleton.


Parish church. C12 origins but mostly C14. Re-ordered in 1831-34, and enlarged in 1866-8 by John Middleton.

MATERIALS: it is built of limestone ashlar under roofs of Cotswold stone slate.

PLAN: it consists of a short chancel with tower and spire over its west end, a nave with north and south aisles, north porch and a south vestry. Unusually there is also a room above the chancel.

EXTERIOR: the north wall of the chancel has a small plank priest's door within a flat-chamfered ogee-arched doorway to the lower right and a tall C19 two-light window with cinquefoil-headed lights and a quatrefoil. There are diagonal buttresses at the east end which has a two-light Decorated east window similar to that previously described, but with a restored mullion and a moulded hood with carved head stops, and a two-light window with trefoil-headed lights, quatrefoil and hood with ballflower ornament above. The latter lights a room above the chancel. The south chancel wall has a tall C19 two-light window as on the north wall, with a large circular scratch-mass dial on the buttress to the left. The early-C14 tower has to its south side a tall two-light window matching that in the north wall of the chancel; stone steps up to a C19 door to the stair turret above the chancel; and single-light belfry windows with stone louvers. The octagonal ribbed spire has trefoil-headed lucarnes and a decorated finial with a weathercock.

The east end and south wall of the south aisle are C14. The former has a C14 square-headed, three-light window with reticulated tracery, and there is a similar window with a restored lintel to the south-east end of the south aisle. The east side of the C19 vestry has windows matching those lighting the south aisle; a projecting gable-end stack with two circular shafts; and a plank door within a pointed surround and a two-light window with reticulated tracery to the west-facing wall. To the west of the vestry, the south aisle has C19 three-light windows with relieving arches and C19 buttresses. The west end of the south aisle has a C19 three-light window with a segmental-pointed head and reticulated tracery. The C19 west end to the nave has buttresses with offsets either side. It has a C20 panelled door within a pointed-arched surround with red sandstone columns with foliate capitals either side from which rises a moulded arch with a scroll-moulded hood with king's and bishop’s head stops. Above the doorway is a C19 three-light window with reticulated tracery and a moulded hood with uncarved stops. The buttressed C19 north aisle has a C19 three-light window at the west end, matching that at the west end of the south aisle, and five C19 three-light windows with segmental-pointed surrounds to its north wall, the easternmost giving onto the organ chamber. The C14 gabled porch has diagonal buttresses, and a plank door with fillets within an almost round-headed moulded surround. Within the porch is a C14 image niche containing a C19 statuette of St Peter; a stone flag floor and stone bench seats; and a plastered ceiling with moulded wallplates. There is a C20 panelled door within a C19 pointed arch with columns with foliate capitals either side supporting an ovolo-moulded arch; and a moulded hood with carved head stops one of which is reputed to represent John Middleton.

INTERIOR: the nave has a late C19/early C20 facetted roof with three C20 roof lights to each side. It is of five bays and has C19 pointed-arched arcades with circular piers. The respond at the east end of the south aisle incorporates parts of an in situ late-C12 respond with foliate decoration of Transitional character. At the east end of the north aisle is an organ of 1936, built by the London firm of Hill, Norman & Beard. Against the east wall of the south aisle are the remains of a medieval altar. The early-C14 pointed tower and chancel arches have double chamfers, and there is a large carved stone head, probably C14, over the chancel arch. To the right of the chancel arch is a blocked doorway formerly leading to the tower steps. Below the tower is plain chamfered rib vaulting with angel headstops to the ridge ribs and a hole at the centre to accommodate the bell ropes. The chancel has a simple one-compartment, quadripartite vault with carved heads at the springing and angel stops to the ridge ribs; the central boss is carved with the head of Christ. The aumbry at the east end of the chancel has a C20 wooden door, and there is a blocked priest's doorway in the north wall. The floor is stone flagged.

FITTINGS: the C12 limestone circular font has simple cable mouldings to the top and bottom of the bowl, a cylindrical pedestal, and renwed base and plinth. The pews are C19, and at the east end of the north aisle is a mid-C20 organ. The communion rails of 1915 and the octagonal wooden pulpit with linenfold panelling, vinescroll frieze and angel statuettes, dated 1913, are both by Leonard William Barnard. In front of the chancel arch is a mid-C20 greystone altar, and the east end of the south aisle has a C20 limestone altar with C19 image corbels to either side. Above the left-hand corbel is a cross, probably from an early grave. In the south wall, now largely obscured by a brass is a trefoil-headed piscina. The chancel has a C20 limestone altar.

STAINED GLASS: the windows in the north porch, dated 1903-4, are by Lavers, Westlake & Co., as are two in the south aisle and the east window of the north aisle. The westernmost window in the north aisle, probably c 1891; the east window of 1866; that in the crossing of 1868, and the east window in the south aisle, also 1868; are all by Hardman. The south-west window in the south aisle of c 1864, and the two central windows in the north aisle aisle, c 1888, are by Clayton and Bell. The south chancel window is probably by Lavers & Barraud, c 1858; and the north window of c 1900 by Heaton, Butler & Bayne. The three west windows of 1866 are by Wailes.

MONUMENTS: recumbent stone effigies of Sir John Giffard, died 1327, and his wife which probably date from the 1340s at the west end south aisle (re-located from the north side of the south aisle chapel). Set towards the east end of the south aisle is a brass to Elizabeth Norwood, died 1598, with kneeling figures of herself, her husband, sons and 2 daughters (q.v. Leckhampton Court); also in the east wall is a C12/C13 headstone with splay arm cross. The north aisle has a late C15/early C16 recumbent stone effigy of a priest in Eucharistic vestments. There are also numerous C19 monuments, mostly of white and black marble, on the north and south walls of the aisles to various Cheltenham notables; several by G Lewis of Cheltenham. One C18 monument has a twin inscription panel with a broken segmental pediment with a pointing finger at the top; foliate scrollwork and a four-winged angel at the bottom. Two C17 and one C18 ledger within the south aisle, two to members of the Norwood family, and one marble bust of a youth by Sir Thomas Brock.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURE: at the entrance to the churchyard, to the north-west of St Peter’s, is a lych gate that was dedicated in 1893. It is timber framed with ashlar side walls with a chamfered stone capping. The gabled roof is clad in plain tiles and has ornate bargeboards. It has a moulded four-centred arched entrance with double gates with pierced panelling at the top


The first building to be constructed on the site was a Norman chapel, which had been built by c 1133 when Henry I endowed the collegiate church at Cirencester. The foundations, stone font and remnants of Norman work at the base of the tower facing the nave survive from this early church.

Much of the current building was constructed in the early C14 by the wealthy landowner Sir John Giffard, for whom the nearby Leckhampton Court (Grade II*) was probably built in c 1320-30. The C14 church consisted of the nave, chancel, east end of the south aisle and the ribbed broach spire. The owners of Leckhampton Court continued to be benefactors to the church; members of both the Giffard and Norwood families who occupied it are commemorated in its monuments.

The church was re-ordered in 1831-34, overseen by the rector, Canon Charles Brandon Trye, who had a vestry added to the south side at his own expense. The work also included re-pewing and the erection of a gallery over the south aisle. In 1838 two buttresses were added to support the tower and spire, which was believed to be moving.

In 1865-66 Cheltenham-based architect John Middleton (1820-85) was commissioned to radically enlarge the church. The medieval walls, previously whitewashed, were stripped back to stone and new pine pews were introduced in the nave. The nave was also extended westwards, the gallery was taken down and a north aisle was added, necessitating the repositioning of the C14 porch. New arcading was constructed and the priest’s doorway was blocked. The tomb of Sir John Giffard and his wife which was previously situated in the Lady Chapel has been moved to the south-west corner of the south aisle. In 1967 the east end was re-ordered and a forward altar was set up in the chancel.

Reasons for Listing

The Church of St Peter Church which has C12 origins but dates mostly from C14, was re-ordered in 1831-34, and enlarged in 1866-8, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: for its substantial survival of early-C14 work, including the tower and chancel with room above, and some Norman fabric from an earlier chapel;
* Historic interest: the church and graveyard house a significant collection of monuments, including groups of C14 effigies and coffin lids which, although not in situ, are important as the largest surviving medieval ensemble of such graves in the county;
* Fittings: important features within the church include the Norman font, the ribbed C14 vault with angel corbels below the tower, and a similar unaltered vault in the chancel featuring a carved head of Christ and angel corbels. The two C14 effigies said to be of Sir John Giffard and his wife are also of particular note.

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