St. Peter's Church


St. Peter's story begins in the grounds of Buckland House, where a 'chapel of ease' was originally built for the use of the family and staff. It was known to be in existence in 1426. Other parishioners were attending this small chapel by 1683, but by 1782 it was recorded that "This chapel had long lain in ruins."

It was rebuilt on its present site in 1778 by John Henry Southcote, then owner of Buckland House, to serve the family and staff and the villages of Goveton and Ledstone. A path was made from Buckland House to the church, via a kissing gate still in situ. The stone slabs used to make a path from the kissing gate to the church door were re-used in recent years, to replace worn slabs from the road gate to the church. The church continued to be known as St. Peter's and was consecrated in 1779.

The ground plan was a simple cruciform, with a tower to the West end. There was no porch and no vestry. The inner door of the present porch was the door of entry. By 1841 it had once more fallen into disrepair.

The 22nd September 1890 edition of the 'Western Morning News' reported its reopening, after restoration the previous year. "A porch and a new floor laid with the contractor's patented wood blocks". (To be seen in between the pews and in the North and South transepts.) "It has been re-seated, with new windows in the perpendicular style. A new stained glass window placed in the East (above the altar), was a gift of Mrs. Irwin of Buckland House." This window is dedicated to Mrs. Irwin's first husband, William Fawcett Brunskill, who died 5th December 1875, aged 26 years and their sons, William Fawcett Brunskill, who died 28th August 1887, aged 15 years, and Arthur Edward Brunskill, who died 16th September 1875, aged 5 months 2 weeks.

Stained glass window

St. Peter's Church Stained Glass

The windows in the North and South transepts are dedicated to Mrs. Annie Irwin, born May 11th 1854 and who died June 9th 1910. The memorial plaques in the North and South transepts and the nave commemorate William, Ernest & Matilda Clark, William & Arthur Fawcett Brunskill, Charles & Anice Warden, Herbert Morgan and Henry Clark Cole. When the churchyard was consecrated, in 1903, on land given by Hubert Brunskill, the present surrounding wall was built. Stone from the demolished Lodge, at the west end of Buckland House drive, was used. Before this burials had taken place in the grounds of Buckland House and latterly at East Allington.

In 1954, Country Services were introduced, Plough Sunday, Rogation Tide and Lammas Tide in addition to Harvest Thanksgiving and the Carol Service, which we continue to celebrate to this day. The church has a single bell, inscribed: John Henry Southcote Esq. JP 1779. The brass cross (brought out for Sunday services) was obtained in 1924. The lectern was brought up from Goveton School, when it closed in 1926. The present is a replacement as the original was stolen in 1996. Goveton School was formerly a mission chapel, in use when St. Peter's fell into disrepair, from 1841 to 1890.

The church used to be heated by a solid fuel boiler. Electricity was installed in 1956. Prior to this, the church was lit by oil lamps. These decorative lamps are still hanging in place today. The tapestry communion kneelers in front of the altar, were dedicated on 2nd July, 1989, the quincentenary of the birth of Thomas Cranmer. They portray the life of the parish:

The keys of St Peter In the centre, flanked by a chess rook, representing the rookery at Buckland Tout Saints
and by a mill-rind (the iron fastening of a millstone), signifying the binding together of the community.

Our four country festivals are symbolised by; a plough for Plough Sunday, a chaplet of roses (Rosary) for Rogation Tide, a wheat sheaf for Lammas Tide and a scythe and flail for Harvest Thanksgiving.

The buzzard, the badger, the primroses and the chestnuts exemplify the local wildlife and the ewe and cider apple tree, our local produce present and past.

Today St. Peter's is one of a group of nine churches in the Start Bay Benefice as the result of the coming together in 2008 of Buckland tout Saints, Charleton, Chivelstone, South Pool, East Portlemouth, Sherford, Slapton, Stokenham and Beesands chapel.

They are all beautiful places of worship and all well worth a visit, starting with St. Peter's of course.

This bench within the Church yard was purchased in 2016 by St. Peters Church & the Parish Council to commemorate the lives of Pauline and Harold Mitchell.