St. Peter's Church Diddlebury

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St. Peter's church was founded before the Norman Conquest, and was a minster served by a college of canons. Following lengthy disputes between the abbeys of Shrewsbury and Seez in Normandy, both of whom claimed patronage, in 1237 its substantial revenues were transferred to Hereford Cathedral. The church building was substantially extended in the twelfth century, and a south aisle added a century later. In 1860 the south side was rebuilt and the church roofs replaced, and a more extensive restoration in 1883 (T. Nicholson, architect) removed most of the post Reformation furnishings.


Points of interest


The north wall of the nave, built of square ashlar blocks, is largely Anglo-Saxon work, with a fine double splayed window and blocked north door. Some pre-Conquest stonework may be seen in the lower part of the tower, which is mainly twelfth century with later buttresses (upper storey rebuilt 1900). The west wall of the tower contains a large blocked outer arch of uncertain origins and purpose. Above this is a string course supported on carved animal heads. On the south wall are two sheila-na-gigs, obscene female figures of possibly pagan origin found in several local churches.

The Chancel is largely twelfth century work, with some later windows. Notice the heads of Victoria and Albert on the dripstones of the east window of 1860. On the north side is the present vestry, built as the Baldwyn family chapel in 1609.


Points of interest - interior


The great surprise of the church is the herringbone walling on the north side of the nave. The dating of this work has led to a century of controversy, but the consensus is that it is pre-Conquest. To the east of this section may be seen three pre-Conquest sculpted fragments, one of which - part of a cross-shaft with tree and figures - is tenth century work and pre-dates the present building. Above the west door (c.1200) is a large painted Royal Arms of William III dating between 1694 and 1702. Note the corbel heads at the base of the roof trusses. These are early seventeenth century work of the Ludlow school of woodcarvers, and were retained when the church was re-roofed in 1860.

In the Chancel are two medieval tomb recesses decorated with characteristic fourteenth century ball flower ornament. One contains fine heraldic brass of Charles Baldwyn (1674). On the walls are a number of eighteenth century mural tablets to members of the Fleming family of Westhope, including a governor of the Leeward Islands. The north window contains glass by David Evans of Shrewsbury depicting Saints Peter and Paul. In the head of the window is a small fourteenth century Crucifixion, the oldest glass in the church. The east window is by Hardman of Birmingham, who also made the two windows at the west end of the south or Corfton aisle.

The Churchyard contains few monuments dated before 1800. The former schoolroom was rebuilt in 1840, on the site on an Elizabethan grammar school which boasted Lord Herbert of Chirbury among its pupils. The Lychgate dates from 1908.

Martin Speight, local historian

Further information can be found at The Diddlebury Parish Church Site