The Restoration of St. Peter's Church in 1856

An exhibition was held in St. Peter's Church in 2007 to mark the 151st anniversary (don't ask!) of the restoration of the church in 1856. These pages provide an account of the project.

1 - The State of St. Peter's before the Restoration

Most church buildings change over the years as they are extended, renovated, modernised and generally made more suitable for contemporary use. St. Peter’s is no exception. The current church building owes much to a mid-Victorian restoration.

The state of the church was starkly summarised by the Dorset County Chronicle :

“The old east end was an unsightly finish of a domestic character, having a projecting bay window of a debased style, and is supposed to have been brought from the priory.  It was surmounted by an ugly elliptical window, of large and obsolete proportions, in wood. … If we were to describe the variety of the internal arrangements of the pews, it would be to term them ‘all sorts and sizes’; many of them might be designated as ‘sleeping apartments’ of unusual capacity, whilst others were pinching their occupants so closely as to have a tendency to divert the attention of the worshipper from the solemn teaching of the pastor.  These incongruities, together with the dilapidated conditions of some of the sittings, floors, roofing etc., the piers being cut away in many cases for the insertion of pews, … gave ample evidence of the want of a restoration of such a noble pile of architecture.”

The old east end, including the “ugly elliptical window” are shown below in a pre-restoration picture, and an architect’s drawing.