Tuesday, 10 September 2013

St Peter, Petersham

Petersham is quite unexpected: a true village within suburban London, sandwiched between Kingston and Richmond. The quaint and large Georgian brick-built church of St Peter lies just off the main road, a little corner of tranquillity away from the bustle beyond.

It is thought a Saxon chapel existed here in the 8th century, and a church was mentioned in Domesday. The earliest part of the present structure, however, is the chancel, rebuilt in 1266 and now retaining a single simple lancet window. The rest of the church was rebuilt in 1505 and again in the 1700s with the expansion of the transepts, which effectively reorientated the church north-south. The south side was enlarged again in 1840, but has been little altered since.

Inside, the feeling is overwhelmingly of a well-loved Georgian chapel, with high box pews and galleries, a lofty hexagonal pulpit with a spiral staircase, and round-headed windows with pale glass. There are two memorials of note: a fine Jacobean memorial to George Cole (d. 1624) and his wife, and in the churchyard, that of George Vancouver (1757-1798), whose expedition in 1791-5 charted the north west coasts of America and Canada.

On my visit the church had two delightful and informative welcomers.

St Peter, Church Lane, Petersham, Surrey, TW10 7AB

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