ST PETER AND ST PAUL’S CHURCH
Mr John Bridges tel: 01275 843380
Mr Ian Robinson Tel: 01275 399097
10.00 am Family Communion (1st and 3rd)
6.00 pm Choral Evensong (2nd and 4th)
6.00 pm Holy Communion (5th)
9.30 am Holy Communion
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The church is the jewel of the Village. There may well have been a church on the present site before the Norman conquest but unfortunately there is no evidence of this. However, this Church was erected in the 12th Century by Sir Ascelin de Perceval, Earl of Yvery, son of Robert, who accompanied William the Conqueror on his expedition to England.
Richard, the Grandson of Ascelin, was a Commander in King Richard’s army on the Third Crusade to the Holy Lane, and his tomb is just opposite the porch door. Although now quite plain, it was originally very ornate with railing and brass covers.
The church was much restored in the 15th Century by Sir Richard Perceval, a descendant of Ascelin, who died in 1483 and whose tomb is on the north side of the nave. The chapel of St Mary Magdalene is mentioned in 1536 in the will of Sir James Perceval, who built the chapel. In his will it is noted that he wishes to be buried there but no monument remains.
Entrance to the churchyard is gained through the lychgate, of 15th Century deign, which was erected by the Villagers in 1897 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. On the left is the churchyard cross, erected by the Villagers in 1912, on the site of the former cross, by members of the Perceval family.
On the most interesting features of the church is the choir gallery in the porch. Similar galleries were found in about a dozen local churches but they have now all disappeared and it is thought that this one in Weston is the sole survivor. These galleries were probably used for the accommodation of the choir on special occasions and usually were only temporary.
The ancient font remains at the back of the nave. It was almost certainly produced in Normandy and shipped across the Channel.
At one time the church had four altars, now only two remain in position – the high altar and that in the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene. In 1895 when the organ was replaced the ancient slab of the altar of St Mary Magdalene was discovered beneath the organ platform and returned to its original position.
The 13th Century stone pulpit, on the south wall, is one of the earliest specimens of the fixed kind and a quaint and interesting feature in the church. The other pulpit, on the north side, is Jacobean. The rood screen would have been more ornate than it is today but it was damaged in a fire in the 19th Century.
The seating in the chancel is of heavy oak stalls and Miserere’s which are roughly carved. It is thought that these could have come from Portbury Priory and, if so, could date back to the 12th Century.
Elements of the east window are the oldest and were removed during World War 2 for safe keeping. The glass is medieval and depicts a variety of musical instruments. The west window was placed in the Church in commemoration of the Perceval Family and depicts three past members of the family.
The tower clock was installed just after the second world war; the clockworks having been brought from the Channel Islands. The mechanism was not very good, and as a result the clock was never a very good timekeeper, and the decision was made in 1999 to cease winding it up.
Above the chancel, the ancient santus bell remains, which from pre-Reformation times until today, is rung at the raising of the Host in the Holy Communion service.
A list of Rectors dates from 1314, but the church registers date only from 1684 and have large gaps. Particularly interesting are the burial records post reformation when Charles II decreed that the dead should be buried in wool and not linen, in order to protect the English cloth trade against the Irish. Relatives would have to swear that the deceased was “buried in woollen” and this was recorded in the register. A false declaration was dealt with very severely! During the 19th Century, graves could be dug 14 ft deep, presumably to accommodate large families. The churchyard was extended at the west end by donation of the land from the Miles Estate and was consecrated in October 1926.
For further information please contact the Churchwardens.