The large Heversham village church, St Peterís, is supposedly the former county of Westmorelandís oldest, dating from the 7th century. The site is thought to have originally been an Anglican monastery as evidenced by the remnants of a 7th century cross in the church (decorated with foxes and grapes). The church didnít become a parish church until 1180. From 1050 the church was the property of the Benedictine abbey of St Mary at York.
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It was a smaller church then than now. It would have had no aisles in the nave and only a simple bellcote at the west end. In the 13th and 15th centuries the church was enlarged and rebuilt. The Levens Hall chapel was constructed at this time as was the west part of the Dallam chapel. Further changes took place after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. At this time a north aisle and clerestory were added.
Most of the building on view today dates from after 1601. At that time a fire destroyed practically all of the church contents including the bells and organ. Surviving was a 14th century parish strong box and parts of the massive porch door. The fire was caused by a careless workman on the scene. The south arcade of the nave is Norman and still has its late 12th century piers. Paintings were added to the walls at the time of the rebuilding. The church was restored in 1868, and Paley and Austin, well known church architects, built the west tower in 1869-70.
A number of stained glass windows with good detail are in the church. The east window of the chancel is from the 15th century. The north chapel dates from the rebuilding but does have a window c1300. The aisles have some 15th century windows.
Sandstone gargoyles decorate the churchís east exterior wall. In the churchyard are a number of chestnut trees, a sundial with parts dating from 1690, and over 650 monuments.
The church is joined with Saint Thomas's church in Milnthorpe and St John's in Levens as joint parishes.
The church is located in the village of Heversham, on the A6 north of Milnthorpe and near Levens in south Lakeland. It is handicap friendly. It has a lending library.
Church exterior, interior, gargoyles, parish strong box by Matthew Emmott
Other photos courtesy Geograph UK as follows:
Church window, organ, font by Alexander Kapp courtesy
Cross by Karl and Ali
Heversham and community website: Heversham