Sandwich, St Peter's Church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The timber-framed medieval roof is impressive, and the windows feature Decorated Gothic tracery. The interior is sparsely furnished, allowing the bones of this impressive medieval building to show.
Over the south door (the main entrance) is a coat of arms to Charles II, dated to 1660. Immediately beside the door is the 14th century of Sir John Grove of Staple (d. 1350). Grove helped build the south aisle, and his tomb originallystood there, but after the aisle was destroyed by the falling tower in 1661 the effigy was brought inside the church. On the nave arcade, opposite the entrance, are richly coloured wall paintings dating to about 1330. You can clearly see several crosses of St George and white shields against a red background.
On the south side of the chancel is a three-seat sedilia with wonderfully carved capitals atop circular shafts. One ususual feature is a massive sounding board hung on the wall behind the font. This huge wooden construction dates to the 17th century and hung over the pulpit to amplify the preacher's voice during sermons. On the wall above the font is a funeral hatchment, probably made for Francis, wife of poet William Wordsworth, who died in 1813 aged only 29.
One of the most interesting historic features of St Peter's is not inside the church at all, but outside the west end. There, set upright in the churchyard, is a section of beautifully carved medieval window. This is all that remains of St Thomas Hospital, a 14th century almshouse, which stood near the church.
The Bell Tolls ...
In the medieval period it was common practice to ring a curfew bell. This was not simply to let people know they should leave the streets and go indoors, as you might expect. Rather, it let householders know it was time to release geese and pigs into the street to eat all the rubbish that accumulated during the day. And in the Middle Ages that was a lot of rubbish! A second bell, called the 'goose bell', was rung at 5am to tell householders to take their animals back indoors lest they be impounded. The 8pm curfew is still rung from the tower of St Peters.
St Peter's is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and is normally open daylight hours.
About Sandwich, St Peter's Church
Address: Market Street, Sandwich, Kent, England, CT13 9EQ
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: Pay and display parking beside the church in Market Street
Website: Sandwich, St Peter's Church
Churches Conservation Trust
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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