St. Peter's Church
The ancient church of St. Peter's dominates the centre of Wolverhampton. A history dating back over seven centuries makes it a focal point of both local and national importance.
The present building stands on a site originally occupied by a minster church, built by Lady Wulfruna in 994 AD. This church was replaced in the early 14th Century by a new one in the 'decorated' style and in 1425 work on the present cruciform took shape. This was paid for by the wool merchants and principal families of the town and just as the previous church had been, was called St. Peter's.
In 1479 the deanery was unified with Windsor by Edward IV. At this time he also appointed the Bishop of Salisbury, Richard Beauchamp, as the first dean to the towns of Windsor and Wolverhampton. The union managed to escape the Reformation.
In 1846 the deanery was abolished; St. Peter's falling under the Diocese of Lichfield and becoming a rectory.
In its present mode and after constant restoration the church stands much as it did in the 16th Century, with the exception of the chancel which was rebuilt completely by Ewan Christian in 1867. On restoration, the then rector, J.Osmond Dakeyne said that the restoration committee should view the task as "illustrative of humble Christian gratitude to the Almighty ruler of all things, who has made their industry to prosper and amidst the crash and uprooting of surrounding nations, sanctified their own land to be the Goshen of a darkened and stricken world."
Many further restorations have had to take place. These include; 10,000 pounds ( raised in fourteen days ) in 1937 and 35,000 pounds in 1970. Further restoration in the future will undoubtedly have to take place. The cost will be rather high but the preservation of hundreds of years of Wolverhampton's heritage is of great importance.
The interior of St. Peter's has the appearance of a modest cathedral and entertains any visitor with fine examples of art and sculpture. On entering one can admire the inner south porch (finely carved), given to the church in memory of Sir Charles Tertius Mander, a former Mayor and Freeman of the Borough who died in 1929. The Mander family recently paid for its cleaning and good order. The nave, which shows one of the few remaining stone pulpits, dates from mediaeval times. Richly decorated at one time, traces of decoration can still be slightly defined and an imposing Griffin stands at the base of the staircase, apparently to drive demons away. The font dates from the same period and is of interest for the figures which surround the base; each of which has some connection with St. Peter's and the unification of the deanery with Windsor. The north transept was one of the last parts of the prereformation church to be completed and dates from the early 16th Century; the burial place, for many centuries, of important local families.
The gallery at the west end of the nave was erected by the Worshipful Company of Merchant Tailors for the use of the boys of the Grammar School of which they were governors. It bears the date 1616 and the herald of Sir Stephen Jenyns the school's founder. The stained glass of St. Peter's within the chancel, was collected by Miss Theodosia Hicks. It is by several schools of glass painters, one notary being C.E. Kernpe, a glass painter for fifty years, who painted panels in the south aisle.