Church of England Diocese of Worcester Pirton

History

NAVE

The Norman Church consisted of a Nave and short Sanctuary without transepts divided by a massive central tower. Of this late 11th century Church the Nave (apart from the West wall, which was rebuilt in the 14th century) survives. Notable features of it are the dog-tooth moulding round the South door, the gargoyle above it (a survivor of seven representing the seven deadly sins), two small windows with stepped splays in the North wall, the North door of which the iron moulding is a fine example of Norman craftsmanship, and above it in excellent condition a mass-dial-clock which was originally incorporated into the South wall. The Font with its octagonal stem is also probably Norman; and in its surrounds are some  tiles excavated in the 19th century.

CROSSING

The doorway which led to the roof-loft can be seen in the South wall; and the foundations of the original central tower are clearly visible inside and outside the massive buttresses which supported its weight. The Chancel-arch is a particularly fine example of 13th century construction, semicircular in form and resting on simple but massive piers. It includes a reproduction of St. Peter, the Church’s Patron Saint, upside down, the position in which he was according to tradition, crucified in 64 A.D.

CHANCEL

The Chancel dates from the 14th century, to which time the mullioned window on the South side belongs. The glass of the East window is a memorial to Hugh Bennett, Rector 1878-1892. In the South wall is an interesting tablet in memory of Mrs. Elizabeth Lole who died in 1664.

TOWER

The half-timbered square tower at the North-west of the Nave replaced the central tower in the reign of Henry VIII. It has an oak framework filled with wattle and daub, and is a magnificent example of Tudor construction. The pyramidal roof is modem. The tower houses three 17th century bells and an 18th century clock.

FURNISHINGS

The Pulpit is a good specimen of Jacobean woodwork, octagonal in shape with arched panels. Of a similar period are the Altar-rails and Altar-table, though the latter has been much restored. The reredos is Victorian. In the Sanctuary stands a fine carved chair dated 1674; and the oak chest by the main door, used for the safe keeping of parish registers, is of the same date.

CHURCHYARD

In the Churchyard can be seen the remains of a 14th century preaching cross.

This resume of the main architectural features and furnishings of this fascinating little Church is published to make a visit more enjoyable. It is compiled from notes left by the Rev. P. Chccsman, Rector 1945-1971. An important relic from the past, which for safety reasons cannot be displayed in the Church, is the Pirton Stone, a small object 3 1/2in. by 2 1/2in. discovered during repairs in 1870. A mediaeval seal, it was used for the reproduction of certificates for pilgrims to the shrine of Thomas Hughbeckett. The registers go back to 1529; and the names of Rectors are known from 1300.    J. S. Billings 1972

In 1988 as a result of an appeal for £23000, the tower was restored and the opportunity taken to improve the lighting system and install a new heating system. Thanks to the generosity of many, this was achieved within thirteen months of the launching of the appeal. During this restoration, experts determined that the tower dates from the earlier period of the 14th century. Kenneth C. Martin, (Rector) 1989

RECENT

St Peter s Church located in the Worcestershire village of Pirton has a striking timber framed bell tower; one of five to be found in the county. This one is thought to be unique however for its side aisles. The tower measures over 9 metres high and is believed to date back to the 14th or early 15th century. The church is Norman in origin, with the outer walls retaining the form of the twelfth-century three cell church. This consisted of a nave and chancel joined by a central tower. The tower evidently collapsed at some time in the late middle ages, when the present timber-framed belfry was erected on the north side of the church. The date is uncertain but dendrochronologists, using tree ring analysis, have found that much of the tower is constructed from trees felled in 1507. There are also older timbers present: two being felled between 1480 and 1490, and others felled between 1390 and 1415. The tower has recently undergone significant repair and restoration which was completed in December 2014. Grant support was secured from a number of organisations including The Heritage Lottery Fund, The National Churches Trust, Church Care, The Laslett’s Charities and Welcome to our Future (the Severn Waste Environmental Fund). In addition, the local community have raised in excess of £35,000 towards costs. The Church clock has also been renovated. On Tuesday 11th August 2015, a clock face was refitted to the west face of the tower by The Cumbrian Clock Company Ltd. It is a late 18th century turret clock and is believed to be a fine example of the work by Pershore clock maker John Steight (1696 to 1777). The clock face has only one hand as it is from a period when knowing the exact time was not so relevant. The cockerel which sits on top of the weather vane was re-gilded in August 2014. It is unusual in that it was made with legs that appear to be running and has two bullet holes in the main body. The restored cockerel was installed on the 16th December 2014. The repairs completed during 2013 to 2015 have cost in excess of £100,000. We continue to raise funds to enable us to continue with a programme of on-going maintenance and repair, so preserving this magnificent building for future generations.