Barton-upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire
St Peterís history spans over 1000 years. The church site was used as far back as prehistoric times. An oval enclosed settlement was found alongside, and next to the site is Tyrwhitt Hall, a medieval manor house.
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The area was invaded by Vikings resulting in a boom in church building, hence St Peterís. The site was Christian from the early 10th century when a wooden church was in use. A stone church was erected around 970, and part of this church still survives. In the Middle Ages the church had richly furnished altars, painted sculptures, and decorated walls. St Peterís was extended and a chapel built beside the market place (now St Maryís church).
By 1291 the church was one of the wealthiest in the area. Henry VIIIís reformation destroyed much of the church interior. Surviving are some carved heads, two large Saxon stones that were used for doorways, windows, and corners, and a 10th century carved face of Christ above the eastern arch. The Anglo-Saxon tower and baptistry are of special significance.
The church was restored in Victorian times with a Gothic Revival style font, pews, and pulpit. At the same time the chancel was refurbished and given a new organ chamber and vestry. In 2000 the eight bells in the tower (dating from 1598 onwards) were brought back to use.
The church was declared redundant in 1972 and is in the care of English Heritage. It is one of Englandís most studied churches due to the excavations that have taken place. These and the history of the church are detailed in an exhibition in the church. The exhibition also highlights the changes in the church over the years.
In 1980 the extensive excavations of the nave revealed the Anglo-Saxon and early Norman foundations and a series of post-medieval brick-built family burial vaults. There are estimated to be 14,000 burials at the site, ranging from Anglo-Saxon to Victorian times. The archaeologists have studied skeletal remains of 2800 of the burials, weighing two tons.
St Peterís Church
Tel. 0 1652 632516
Open: April-end Sep, Sat, Sun, and BH, 11am-3pm
English Heritage property
Photos and text © by Barbara Ballard