St Peter's Church, Devizes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
St Peter's Church, Devizes
St. Peters Church, Devizes (geograph 5086124).jpg
Coordinates: 51°21′14″N 2°00′22″W / 51.354°N 2.006°W / 51.354; -2.006
Country England
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Traditional Anglo-Catholic[1]
Dedication St. Peter
Consecrated 24 July 1866
Status Active
Functional status Parish church
Heritage designation Grade II listed
Architect(s) William Slater and Richard Carpenter
Groundbreaking 30 June 1865
Completed 1866
Parish Devizes
Archdeaconry Wiltshire
Diocese Diocese of Salisbury
Province Province of Canterbury
Bishop(s) The Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall SSC (AEO)
Vicar(s) Interregnum

St Peter's Church is one of four Anglican churches in Devizes, Wiltshire. It is a Victorian church and is situated on the Bath Road, Devizes. It is in the Anglican Diocese of Salisbury but is under the Episcopal care of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, having passed the Act of Synod. It is also a member of the Devizes Partnership of Churches, an ecumenical charity of all the Christian churches in Devizes (except from the Old Baptist Church on Maryport Street).


St Peter's Church was built when Rev Benjamin Dowding, the Priest of St James' Church, Devizes, decided that Devizes needed another church that was nearer to the Kennet and Avon Canal, which flows through Devizes.

The foundation stone was laid on 30 June 1865 by Revd. B.C. Dowding.[2] The construction took from 1865 to 1866 and was built by Slater & Carpenter. The church was consecrated on 24 July 1866 by Rt .Revd. Walter Hamilton, Bishop of Salisbury. The consecration service was attended by the Royal Wiltshire Militia who marched to the church with the clergy in procession.[3]

The south aisle and organ chamber were added between 1884 and 1885 by Weaver & Adye.

The first priest of St Peter's was Fr Harold Grindle, who was loved by the parishioners and who was very giving, and did a lot of work to help the poor. However, he died in 1885, aged 50, whilst he was still the Priest of St Peter's. His successor was Fr Arthur Devas, who also died in office and who built the chancel screen inside the church. However, he never lived to see its completion.

The third priest of St Peter's was Canon Fr Frederick Phipps, who served for 34 years until his death, aged 76. Canon Phipps was a prominent Anglo-Catholic and introduced the use of incense in worship at St Peter's. A photo of Phipps still remains on the postcards of St Peter's, which can be bought from the back of the church. Phipps also served as Rural Dean of Devizes for many years and was well known in the diocese.

Canon Phipps was succeeded by Canon Fr George F. George, an architect by trade who had been in Holy Orders for 18 years and had previously worked in South Africa. Canon George designed the new High Altar and moved the original one into the Lady Chapel.

During World War II, St Peter's Church had three short-serving priests. They were Fr Cyril Reeves Palmer (1939–1941), Fr Sydney Wyman (1941–1944) and Fr George Hamilton Douglas (1944–1950).

In 1950, Fr Douglas Bryant became priest. He was priest of St Peter's for seven years and in that time, he did much to increase the church's devotional atmosphere. He eventually became a Canon of Guildford Cathedral. Whilst he was at St Peter's, Bryant also installed a new electric heating system in the church, to replace the old boiler. Bryant's son, Mark Bryant, is now the Bishop of Jarrow.

Fr Vernon Thomas, who was from Wales, was the next priest, and he launched a Christian Stewardship campaign to raise money for the church. As a result of Fr Thomas' campaign, the church was able to raise enough funds to re-wire the whole church and re-roof the South Aisle.

Fr Henry Maude was then priest from 1966–1974, and was replaced by Fr John Croft, a conservative Anglo-Catholic who was a former Lay-brother of the Community of the Resurrection, at Mirfield. However, Fr John died in 1985, aged 58.

Fr John Croft was succeeded by Fr Brian Tigwell, a more liberal Anglo-Catholic who did away with traditions such as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament that had been advocated by his more Catholic successor (most of these traditions, including Benediction, were restored for a period). However, Fr Brian increased the amount of money given to the poor and disadvantaged. He also forged a strong link between the church and the school, and attracted large congregations. He could especially connect to the children and was loved by the students of St Peter's School. Fr Brian also completely re-decorated the inside of the church, and installed a new electrical lighting system. He also served as Rural Dean of Devizes from 1993-1998. Although Fr Brian was fairly liberal on the issue of the ordination of women in the Church of England, it was whilst he was priest that the church PCC voted in favour of passing Resolutions A and B (No female Priest to preside, and no female Incumbent). When Fr Brian left St Peter's in 1999, he gave the church a thurible that he had previously owned as a gift of thanks. Fr Brian sought early retirement in 1999, aged only 63, and was replaced after an interregnum of one year by Fr Leslie Attwood, a priest from Cornwall. Fr Leslie had only served as priest at St Peter's church for two years.

After Fr Leslie resigned in 2002, the church then went through the longest interregnum of any Devizes church. It wasn't until 2005 that they finally appointed another priest. During this interregnum, the Assistant Priest, Fr John Goodman, took over the day-to-day running of the church as acting priest. This was a dark period for St Peter's and there were fears of its closure. However, in 2005 a new priest, Fr Peter Moss, was appointed. Fr Peter had done a lot to improve the worship at St Peter's by introducing the use of the Angelus and focusing on the Communion of Saints. Under Fr Peter, St Peter's also passed Resolution C (to come under the care of a Provincial Episcopal Visitor - a Bishop acceptable to Catholics in the Church of England), becoming a full member of Forward in Faith. Recently, St Peter's has refurbished their pipe organ, redecorated the entrance porch and replaced the old Stations of the Cross with new ones that were given to St Peter's by the local Roman Catholic Church. He retired in the summer of 2013 to enjoy but only three and a half years of retirement, dying on the 2nd January 2017, aged 75 years.

The present Incumbent is The Rev'd. Dr Vincent Perricone.

Stations and icons[edit]

St Peter's has a lovely, hand-carved, wooden collection of Stations of the Cross that decorate the walls of the church. It also has a collection of icons, including one of St Paul and one of St Peter, which was given to the church by a parishioner, Estelle Holloway.

Ecumenicalism and relations with other churches in Devizes[edit]

St Peter's is heavily involved in ecumenical activities with the other Christian churches in Devizes of other denominations. It is a member of the Devizes Partnership of Churches and recently took part in the 'Believing in Devizes' week.

St Peter's is also very close to the Catholic Church of Our Lady the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic church in Devizes.

List of priests of St Peter's Church, Devizes[edit]

Priest's Name From To Notes
Harold Grindle 1866 Was the first Priest of St Peter's
Arthur Devas 1885 Oversaw a period of growth, built chancel screen
Frederick Phipps 1901 Started Anglo-Catholic tradition, introduced incense, focussed on ceremonial, was Rural Dean
George F. George 1935 Designed the new High Altar
Cyril Reeves Palmer 1939 1941 -
Sidney Wyman 1941 1944 -
George Hamilton Douglas 1944 1950 -
Douglas Bryant 1950 Increased devotional atmosphere, installed new heating system
Vernon Thomas 1957 Re-wired and re-roofed the whole church
Henry Maude 1966 1974 -
John Croft 1974 1985 Increased ceremonial, encouraged boys' choir and child involvement at the church
Brian Tigwell 1985 1999 Toned down ceremonial in favour of a more subtle Anglo-Catholicism, was Rural Dean, re-decorated church, passed Resolutions A and B (no female Priest to preside at Mass, and no female Incumbent)
Leslie Attwood 2000 2002 -
Peter Moss 2005 2013 Brought St Peter's fully into Forward in Faith, increased ceremonial, passed Resolution C (to come under the care of a Provincial Episcopal Visitor)
Vincent Perricone 2014 2016 -


The church has a 2 manual pipe organ by Griffin and Stroud dating from 1898. A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.[4]


  1. ^ "Devizes: St Peter, Devizes". A Church Near You. The Church of England. Retrieved 2 November 2016. 
  2. ^ "New District Church near Devizes". Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette. England. 26 July 1865. Retrieved 2 November 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ "Consecration of St Peter's Church, Devizes". Frome Times. England. 25 July 1866. Retrieved 2 November 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ "NPOR N08429". National Pipe Organ Register. British Institute of Organ Studies. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 

External links[edit]