The Church Building
St Peter’s Church is not an historic building, but a worshipping community. We do however appreciate that many people like to know a bit more about the building and it’s past.
St Peter’s church was consecrated as a place of worship by the Archbishop of York on 30 August 1830. The church building has been changed and adapted over the years to meet the needs of the congregation and the community it serves. As a result the building today has significantly changed from the original church. There have been two major reorderings and many more minor changes along the way.
Internally the body of the church is much changed from the original interior, which included box pews and side balconies. It is likely that there would have been much less light - the galleries obscured part of the windows and extended down almost as far as the central chancel arch. The side windows were undecorated. In fact when the church was first built there were no stained glass windows at all.
The first major reordering took place in the mid 1880‘s and the church was reopened on 14.9.1885. The side galleries and box pews had been removed; ‘more comfortable’ bench pews installed; the chancel area and the vestries added. The organ had been moved form the West gallery to the new chancel area and gas lighting installed for the first time.
The second major reordering of the church took place in 2005 - the pews were removed and replaced with even more comfortable chairs, a solid floor constructed, new areas of York stone floor, carpeting added, a new platform made to the front of the nave and the font moved to the south side of the nave. This makes the church building an attractive and flexible worship space that can also be used by local community groups and for concerts etc. A recent upgrade to our heating system makes it warmer too !
The original 1830’s chancel area was quite small. The depth (back from the plain chancel arch) being just sufficient to contain the high altar. The current chancel was extended in 1885 with a new east window and organ chamber. This followed a movement within the Church of England (the Oxford Movement), that argued for a return to lost Christian traditions and believed the Church of England had become too ‘plain'. It appears this movement was favoured by Rev. Jackson, the vicar at the time, as he commented that the church was built too late (to be in the gothic style) and too early (to be in the style of those built by the Oxford movement). This movement also argued for a return to traditional liturgy from medieval times and favoured the use of more ornate church decoration and vestments. In recent years the congregation has moved towards a more modern and accessible style of worship. Services range from a more traditional Eucharist to informal ‘Café Church’ service.
The chancel was reordered in 2010- when the choir pews were removed, the floor made good and the area carpeted. The chancel can be used as a small worship space or a quiet space for prayer. The chancel step makes disabled access difficult and the area is not currently used during main services.
The current congregation continues to consider what needs to be done to ensure the facilities are appropriate for the church in the 21st century. In doing so we will follow the example of our forefathers in ensuring any changes take into account our heritage and are in keeping with the existing building,