Church of England Diocese of Rochester Pembury

History

“The District Church of St Peter” was consecrated as a Chapel-of-ease to the Parish Church on the 28th September 1847, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Howley, when the Revd. George Woodgate was Vicar. It was built because of the increasing population around the Upper and Lower Greens on the main highways through the village.

The stone and the site within the present wall, with the sum of £100 were the gifts of the Marquis Camden of Bayham. The building cost £2465. Many of the local aristocracy attended the dedication service, led by Lord and Lady Camden.

The ground round the Church was open grazing and wire doors kept the sheep out. Later, the wall with its two gates was built. The clock on the tower was given to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary and by 1886 part of the steeple had to be renewed. In 1894 the north aisle was extended and the William Hill organ was moved from the back of the Church into this extension. Here it remained until 1972 when it was moved to the back of the Church again. When the Church was re-ordered in the early 1990s the organ was disposed of and replaced by a modern one of good repute.

It was also in 1894 that choir stalls were put in the chancel, the pulpit was moved and the altar was raised up by three steps and stood immediately below the east window.

The Church building that we see here 150 years later is a very different one from the original. By 1984 the stone of the 92 foot steeple was crumbling and so it was removed. Vision ‘91, the campaign for the reordering of the Church, has resulted in a completely new interior, changing it from a not particularly interesting Victorian place of worship into a building better suited for congregations of all ages. The sensitive and simple layout of the chancel blends well with the colours of the east window, and instils an atmosphere of peace and reflection.

The provision of new meeting rooms, a well-equipped kitchen and a flexible seating arrangement demonstrates that this Church is looking forward to wider community use in this millennium as well as to serving its own congregation.

The “icon” of St Peter on the east wall of the south aisle is the work of Sister Mary Simon of the Benedictine community at West Malling Abbey. It was presented to the Church in 1997 and was dedicated on Sunday 28th September that year, the 150th anniversary of the consecration of the Church.