St Peter


If you have arrived here from a search engine, this site uses frames. If your server supports frames, link here.

You will then need to navigate back to this page using the County Index



History of the Church

The earliest record of this village is that in 666AD certain lands here were endowed to the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter's at Chertsey. From the Domesday Book of 1086 we learn that there was a church in the village at that time, but of that Saxon church nothing now remains.

Surprisingly, the name Petersham is not derived from St Peter, for in Saxon times, before the Norman conquest, it was called Piterichesham which means a home or enclosure of Patricius or Patrick. However, by the sixteenth century the village was commonly known as Petersham.

In 1266 a Norman church was built of which only part of the chancel is left.

In 1505 the church was rebuilt except for the chancel, and in about 1600 small transepts and a north gallery were added.

Early in the 17th century north and south transepts were built and also the tower at the west of the church. The gallery in the north transept was added shortly afterwards. In 1790 the west porch and vestry were added and the upper half of the tower rebuilt. The gallery at the west end was probably erected about 1800 and originally used by the musicians.

In 1840 further enlargements were made which included extending the south transept and widening it on the west side, the construction of galleries in that transept and an enclosed staircase leading to them.

In 1899 a chancel screen was erected, but in 1972 this was removed, together with two box pews obscuring the altar. The altar step was extended forward and the present rail provided.

In layout the church is much wider than it is long, owing to the position of the road outside. 



The west gallery, looking into the chancel.
Note the north gallery and the position of the pulpit.


The general impression of the church is made by the retention of the Georgian box-pews. Only a few survive in such an entirety, and none closer to London than at Petersham. A fee used to be charged for each family pew, but there were not enough to seat all the members of the parish, and one vicar in georgian times noted that parishioners were "constantly complaining of the injustice of their being obliged to contribute to the Church rates, without the power of obtaining a sitting in the church".  Pew fees, however, were long since abolished.

The font dates from 1740, and has an attractive Jacobean cover.

The pulpit was made in 1796 by a local carpenter, John Long, and retains the original candle-holders.

The Vicar's desk probably dates from the same year as the pulpit and may well have formed part of an earlier three-decker which was dismantled at that time.

The Royal Arms under the chancel arch are those of George III, and date from 1810. The adjacent shields represent St Peter and the Dioceses of Canterbury and Rochester.

The lower part of the tower dates from 1505. In about 1800 a choir and a small group of musicians were accommodated in the lower part of the tower and the gallery above. In 1838 a barrel Organ was installed in the same gallery, made by J C Bishop. This had three barrels, each containing 10 hymn tunes. Ten years later a fourth barrel was purchased.

In 1853 this instrument was enlarged by Bishop, into one of two manuals and pedals, and soon afterwards this was moved to near its present position. It was again altered in 1914 by Speechly, who made the present case, and again in 1976. However, in 1981 Bishop's original specification was restored and some of their original pipework remains. In 1988 an electric action with a detachable console was installed and two new ranks of pipes added by Hill, Norman and beard. 

More detailed information about the church can be found by reading the history of St Peter's Church, Petersham, Surrey by Charles D Warren (sidgwick and Jackson, 1938)

The uniform and staff of the former parish beadle are on display in the Museum of Richmond.





The Bells:

A single bell, weight unknown, inscribed:    'Bryan Eldridge Made Mee - 1620'


The Vicarage, Bute Avenue, Petersham, Richmond, Surrey TW10 7AX
Tel: 020-8940 8435

Go to Richmond station by either overland or underground train, and take a 65 or 71 bus from the station forecourt to 'The Dysarts' public house in Petersham. Cross the road, walk on and take the lane to the right. The church is kept locked, but are obtainable from nearby houses which are listed in the church porch.




Information very kindly supplied by Tim Henderson 
Not the pictures!



Please see our Home Page for important copyright notice

Up Arrow
the Webmasters
NB To prevent unwanted spamming of mail, replace -at- with @ before sending 


This site has been constructed by, and remains the copyright of its authors,
Edwin and Sheila Macadam, 30 Eynsham Road, Botley,
Oxford OX2 9BP
July 2001 -