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St. Peter's Church, Eaton Square
St Peter's Eaton Square.jpg
Southwest front of St Peter's
Location Eaton Square,
Belgravia, London SW1
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Anglo-Catholic
Website St Peter's Eaton Square
History
Status Parish church
Dedication Peter the Apostle
Events 1837 rebuilt after a fire
1987 gutted by fire again
1991 rebuilt again
Architecture
Functional status Active
Heritage designation Grade II* listed
Designated 24 February 1958
Architect(s) Henry Hakewill (1824 design)
Arthur Blomfield (1875 chancel and transepts)
Braithwaite Partnership (1991 rebuilding)
Style Neoclassical
Completed 1827, 1837, 1991
Administration
Diocese London
Province Canterbury
Clergy
Vicar(s) Ralph Williamson
Assistant Julie Khovacs

St. Peter's Church, Eaton Square, is a Church of England parish church at the east end of Eaton Square, Belgravia, London. It is a neoclassical building designed by the architect Henry Hakewill with a hexastyle portico with Ionic columns and a clock tower. On 19 October 1991 The Times newspaper wrote "St Peter’s must now rank as one of the most beautiful churches in London". It is a Grade II* listed building.

History

St Peter's Eaton Square, Belgravia
St Peter's in 1827

St Peter's was built between 1824 and 1827 during the first development of Eaton Square. The interior was, as was common at the time, a "preaching box", with galleries in three sides and the organ and choir at the west end. James Elmes called the effect "chaste and simple".

This building burnt down, and in 1837 was rebuilt from Hakewill's drawings by one of his sons. The original building was a Commissioners' church, receiving a grant from the Church Building Commission towards its cost. The full cost of the building was £22,427 (equivalent to £1,630,000 in 2018),2018 towards which the Commission paid £5,556.

In 1875, the church was enlarged and reordered to designs by Sir Arthur Blomfield, who added a chancel at the east end and north and south transepts and "fiercely normanized" the interior. Internally Blomfield's chancel and transepts are Romanesque Revival, but externally they conform with Hakewill's neoclassical style.

From its founding St Peter's, Eaton Square, Pimlico and until at least 1878 was usually recorded as St Peter's, Pimlico. In 1951 the crypt containing some 400 burials was cleared and the remains reinterred at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey.

Choristers for the choir were provided by London Choir School until 1958 when the choir school closed.

On 20 October 1987 an anti-Catholic arsonist set fire to the east end, in the mistaken belief that the building was a Roman Catholic chapel. Within hours the church was engulfed. By the next day the fire was out but only the Georgian shell of the building remained. It was roofless, with most of its furnishings destroyed.

The church needed total rebuilding. The Braithwaite Partnership of architects was appointed to completely redesign the building with a new and simpler interior, and to incorporate within the site a vicarage, offices, flats for a curate, verger and music director, a meeting hall, nursery school rooms and a large playroom for the church's youth club.

Work on the new church began at Easter 1990 and was completed in 1991. It retained the grand Georgian portico but beyond that the interior is described by visitors as clean, bright and modern. The choir and organ are at the west end, as in the 1827 plan, but the fittings are thoroughly modern. The church is accessible and has disabled-accessible toilets. Behind the altar is an apse that is decorated entirely with gold mosaic. Around the side of the apse, part of the 1873 sanctuary which survived the fire can be seen, and also a side chapel now used as the vestry office, complete with stained glass.

St Peter, Eaton Square, London SW1 - Organ - geograph.org.uk - 2018345
The organ inside St Peter's after the 1991 rebuilding

Notable weddings

  • Edith Helen Chaplin and Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, 28 November 1899
  • Margaret Campbell Geddes and Prince Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine, 17 November 1937. The wedding had been planned for the day after but was moved forward after Prince Ludwig's family perished in the Sabena OO-AUB Ostend crash.
  • Lady Camilla Bingham and Michael Bloch, 12 September 1998
  • Lady Agnew of Lochnow and Baronet Andrew Noel Agnew (barrister), 15 October 1889. This is the Lady Agnew of the famous John Singer Sargent's portrait from 1992, now in the National Galleries of Scotland.
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