A brief History of St Peter's

 

 

 

There was a Saxon church here, as the  Domesday Book mentions a priest in Coggeshall at the time of the survey.  The Normans built a church on the present site, and during restoration work in the 19th century fragments of Norman and Early English masonry were found.  In the year 1140 King Stephen and Queen Matilda founded the Savigny Order at Little Coggeshall.  In 1147 this Order was merged with the Cistercian Order who kept flocks of sheep in all the fields around Coggeshall, and it is to them that we owe the importance of the wool trade which became so established in this part of Essex.

The parish church of St Peter ad Vincula

It was the wealthy wool merchants who built our present glorious church in the first quarter of the 15th century.  It is one of the very few churches in the country dedicated to St. Peter ad Vincula (St. Peter in chains). It is reputed to be one of the very best specimens in the County of the Perpendicular period , and Hadfield notes that there are very few churches in the kingdom to equal it.  On 16th September 1940 our magnificent church was bombed. The roof of the nave collapsed, dragging down the north arcading and the roof of the north wall.  Part of the tower was badly damaged, most of the stained glass windows were blown out, but all the chancel, east end, south wall and south arcading remained.

The Porch and Main Entrance

The tower had to be completely rebuilt, and its eight bells rehung on a new frame; so the church you see today has its original south wall and east end, south arcading and some of the pillars, but the north wall, tower and roof have had to be rebuilt. 

A project for the millennium was to install a further two bells, the heaviest bell weighing about 1.25 tonnes, giving the church the heaviest peal in the county. 

The church tower now contains a fine ring of ten bells, .

The church was re-hallowed in 1956, the restoration work having taken three years.  What a triumph of faith and hard work, and what a challenge to future generations to keep in good order that which others have striven so hard to rebuild. 

The Choir and Sanctuary

 

 

 

As St Peter's church does not receive any State or central church funding it was decided on 1st April 2000, at the annual church meeting, to launch an appeal to all who live or work in the parish of Coggeshall to help with the costs involved in the building of an extension to the church of St Peter ad Vincula, Coggeshall.

As well as a real need for toilets, main drainage, meeting and storage space and a kitchen area, all of which the extension provides, the church had to make changes to come into line with new Health and Safety regulations (such as better access for the disabled).

Architects Drawings of the Extension

 

Extending a Grade I listed building such as St Peter ad Vincula does not come cheaply. The regulations of both church and civic authorities had to be followed; for example, the new construction had to be in keeping with the appearance and character of the existing 15th century church building.

The sale of assets including the old church hall in Queen Street and the use of a bequest meant that 130,000 was available towards the project cost of 200,000. Personal donations, fundraising and grant applications provided the balance of the funding.

 

 

The finished Extension